Podium celebrations at British GT
Posted on Monday 18th April 2016
There were celebrations all round for the University of Bolton staff, students and drivers on Sunday (17 April 2016) at the first round of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch.
Century Motorsport announced their brand new partnership with the University of Bolton and the Centre for Advanced Performance Engineering last November that would see Anna Walewska team up with former British GT4 runner up Nathan Freke for the 2016 season. The all-new partnership got their season started at the Dubai 24H and won their class, marking themselves out as a combination to watch this season.
Pre-season testing had increased their confidence, with both Anna and Nathan feeling very happy with the balance of their Ginetta G55, prepared and run with the assistance of current students from the University of Bolton as part of their course.
Getting their weekend started with two free practice sessions on Saturday morning, free practice one was utilised to settle into the Brands Hatch GP circuit, before showing their hand in free practice two; topping the sheets by five hundredths of a second.
Buoyed by their free practice pace, qualifying started just after 5pm in what were now dry weather conditions. Initially setting a banker lap, Walewska’s session was split in two with a red flag in the middle, compromising her chances of making a big improvement after the restart. Taking over the #73 Ginetta for the second part, Nathan lit up the timing screens, topping the times on his first flying lap and remained there throughout. When combined with Anna’s best lap, the pair secured their first pole position start of the season.
Sunday got underway with a drama free 10-minute morning warm-up before the first two-hour encounter of the season began. Anna Walewska was nominated to start the race and she continued to show her good pace over the opening laps. Now running in third, Anna was maintaining her position, as the track was placed into a full course yellow at lap 21. Confusion about the new full course yellow rules, which require all cars to reduce to a maximum speed of 80kph, caught out Walewska who slowed immediately upon receiving the call, which controversially allowed those around her to pass for position leaving her in sixth. Looking to seize an opportunity, a good call from the Century Motorsport pitwall brought Walewska into the pits just as the pitstop window opened. A rapid pitstop sent Freke back out onto the track, climbing two places to fourth.
Anna Walewska - #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
When the track eventually returned to green flag conditions on lap 35, a determined Freke set off in hot pursuit of the GT4 class lead! Despite looking like a sizeable task, the Fenny Compton native was already up to second after two laps, and just 13 seconds back from the class leader with over 30 minutes remaining. As he brought the gap down to 10 seconds, the race was abruptly halted with 20 minutes remaining, robbing Freke of a shot at class victory, but crucially securing the team’s first podium of the season.
‘I’m really pleased with this weekend. For this year it’s a new team and a new teammate for me but it works and I’ve got confidence in everyone who are definitely bringing out the best in me. There was definitely some pressure starting from pole for the first time, but I just took it in my stride, did the best I could to ensure I could hand the car over to Nathan in a good position. We got a really good result today and now I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.’ Nathan Freke - #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
‘Coming into the weekend, I thought a podium was a possible outcome, but straight away on Saturday Anna was setting some great times and the car felt great. From there I thought, maybe we could go for a win here! Qualifying was great, Anna’s session was difficult with the red flag and I think she could have gone quicker with a clean session, when I went out I just drove as fast as I could and in the end it was enough to give us pole. In the race, Anna did a great job. The new Full Course Yellow regulations certainly cost us during Anna’s stint, but overall the car was great. It was a shame to be robbed of the final 20 minutes as I think we could have gone for the win. We’re a new pairing but a strong one and I think Rockingham should be good.’ Next Round:
Round 2 – Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby, UK, Saturday 30 April & Sunday 1 May 2016.