Century Motorsport were robbed of what should have been a double podium in round nine of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch.
Reigning British GT4 Champion Rick Parfitt Jnr and Tom Oliphant got their weekend off to a good start showing their known strong pace on Saturday during free practice. Carrying this into qualifying earned the pair a second place starting position for Sunday’s two-hour encounter safe in the knowledge that they had yet to show their full potential. Scandinavian pairing of Aleksander Schjperpen and Morten Dons who have already visited the podium twice this year in their debut British GT season also put on a strong display for their first visit to Brands Hatch. When their qualifying times were combined they would place their car in seventh place, equally confident that with more time on track they could quickly move up the order.
Rick Parfitt Jnr started the teams #42 Ginetta G55 GT4 and straight away looked very comfortable in second. Managing his position and waiting for the right moment to mount a challenge for the lead, Rick’s efforts were literally dealt a blow with a front left puncture coming into Paddock Hill Bend. Limping his Ginetta around to the pits for some fresh rubber, Parfitt lost a lap and ultimately the chance to challenge for a podium. When he returned to the circuit, Parfitt proved why he was last years champion as the fastest GT4 driver on circuit for the remainder of his stint. Tom Oliphant took over the car at the half way mark and complimented Rick’s pace to eventually bring their car across the finish line sixth in GT4.
Starting the race for the #43 crew was Aleksander Schjerpen. A superb job in the opening laps promoted him to fourth as the Safety Car was deployed. Once racing got back underway, Aleksander maintained his position before pitting just after the one-hour mark to hand over to Danish driver Morten Dons. A superb job in the pits by the team allowed Morten to leap frog the rival Fox Motorsport Ginetta to move into the first podium place in third. Settling into a very comfortable pace, Morten looked set to record their third podium of the season. However further poor luck would strike the team as Dons reported a steering issue over the radio inside the final 10 minutes. Loosing over seven seconds per lap, Morten would eventually fall to fifth at the flag, robbed of what looked set to be a sure podium finish.
Rick Parfitt Jnr – #42 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“We struggled during free practice however we got a decent set-up on the car on new rubber. We missed pole by just six hundredths of a second, which is a shame, but it proved that we were on the pace. The race started absolutely perfectly to plan, we sat behind the Aston waiting for them to use their tyres, I’d already lined up three possible passing spots where I noticed he was weak and it was all going to plan, we were building a gap and although it was easy in the race, it was obvious Ross and I were the pace-setters so I was happy to sit behind him and let him use his tyres, that was our plan from the team.
“Then turning into Paddock Hill Bend, at full throttle at the bottom of the bend under full compression the tyre burst through the pressure, a completely freak incident and one that cost us the race. After the puncture I just went out and got my head down, there was no more worrying about anything and I just drove as fast as I could. It’s nice to be fastest and we were catching, but the gap was insurmountable. Yet again another weekend where our luck has killed us, but at least I’ve proved that I’m quick.”
Tom Oliphant – #42 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Up and down weekend for us. I felt I got to grips with the track very well having never driven here before in my life. Rick performed really well and I think we got the car really nice on the tyres both new and old. Our pace at the end showed that we could win but unfortunately I don’t think there is one part on the car that hasn’t failed yet but that’s nothing to do with the team. I think if we have a race at Donington without any issues we will win it by a mile.”
Morten Dons – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“All in all it has been a really good weekend. It’s not quite the result we had hoped for. We were in quite a solid third place after starting seventh. The car was really really good. Towards the end of my stint, the steering wheel started to feel a bit weird. For every right turn, I had to turn the wheel right the way around and that slowed us down a lot. We dropped back to fifth position, which was quite disappointing. Championship wise, we are still where we want to be. Our rivals didn’t score very well. The team did a really good job, but just the wishbone let us down. We’ve still got some good points for the championship going to Donington.”
Aleksander Schjerpen – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“A really demanding race, and what a great circuit. All in all I am really happy with the weekend. The team did a brilliant job giving us a close to perfect racecar, so we could push the times down all weekend long. Both Morten and myself showed that we got the pace to fight for the podium again.”
“Of course it is frustrating ending up fifth after we where running third for that long, but that’s racing. Now we will focus on putting everything into the last race at Donington, and we will be up there fighting in the top again and give the team another podium in the end of the season.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“The guys in car #42 did a fantastic job in qualifying putting the car on P2 and knew they had a little more pace available from the new tyres. The race started fine, Rick was doing a great job sitting with the Aston Martin in front until lap three when we picked up a puncture. We lost so much time with the in-lap and changing the puncture that we went a lap down so the race was pretty much done for us then. When he went back out he did a mega job, a faultless stint and consistently the fastest GT4 car on circuit pulling in quite a lot of time to try and give the car to Tom in a good position. Unfortunately it just didn’t go our way and they finished P6. Aleksander in the #43 car didn’t get the best out of his quick Qualifying lap running slightly wide. Morten on the other hand did a great job and they put the car in seventh for the race. Aleksander started the car and had a perfect stint pulling the car up to fourth before the pitstop. The guys in the pits did a great job and we managed to leapfrog the Fox Motorsport Ginetta in the pits. Morten now running in third, 19 seconds behind the Aston in front and 24 seconds ahead of the Ginetta behind reported an issue with the steering minutes before the end of the race. Loosing almost seven seconds per lap just before the end of the race cost them two places, which is a shame as both Aleksander and Morten, drove two mega stints. Hopefully we can finish the season on a high at Donington!”