Having battled a mild illness in Spa-Francorchamps, Anna Walewska was hoping she could bounce back in Snetterton and keep her British GT Championship hopes alive. The second weekend of the year to feature two single-hour long races, Walewska and teammate Nathan Freke were hoping they could utilise the past success of their Century Motorsport team to aid their challenge at the Norfolk circuit.
The University of Bolton and Westons entered pairing got their weekend off to a mixed start on Saturday morning during Free Practice. Keeping themselves inside the top 10, a slight off for Anna as she started to improve her lap times at the end of Free Practice One gave her part-University Student staffed team of mechanics some early repair work to get the crew back out for the second session.
Working hard to find a suitable balance on their car for qualifying, Anna was out on track first on Saturday afternoon to place her Ginetta tenth on the grid for Sunday’s first of two hour long races. Handing the car over to Freke for the second part of the session, he managed to secure ninth on the grid for race two, but crucially, both drivers felt their lack of pace was due to a strange braking issue that they hadn’t been able to solve during the morning’s running.
The warm and sunny conditions carried over from Saturday into Sunday, providing an ideal scene for the day’s two races. As the lights went out on race one, Anna made a superb start to the race, avoiding most of the bumping and pushing in what she described as a ‘Touring Car start’ at the first corner. At the end of the second lap she had already climbed one place to ninth and set about getting into a consistent groove. Despite slipping behind Aaron Mason’s Ginetta on lap six, Walewska remained in touch with the main pack as the pitstop window opened at the 25 minute mark.
Diving into the pits, a busy pitlane prevented them from capitalising on a smooth pitstop and dropped them slightly down the order as Nathan Freke took to the track for his stint. After just one lap on track, Freke was now lighting up the timing screens, instantly setting one of the fastest GT4 lap times as he hunted down Bradley Ellis for ninth. Closing the gap by almost one second on one lap alone, Freke shot past the Ellis Ginetta on lap 25 to move into ninth. There he would remain after 60 minutes of racing with both drivers complimenting the overnight work by the team to resolve their braking woes.
This time it was Nathan’s turn to start round eight of the British GT Championship for the second and final race of the weekend. Hoping he could propel the University of Bolton and Westons Ginetta quickly up the order during his stint, Nathan initially got a strong start into the first corner. However multiple knocks to the rear of the car during the latter part of the opening lap would ruin their race from that point onwards, with Freke clearly struggling to match his pace from earlier in the weekend. Pitting the car just before the pitstop window closed, Anna climbed on board aiming to hustle the car home and secure as many championship points as possible. Given the now severe handling issues from the earlier contact, Anna put together a very good stint and fought right to the very end. Hunting down the SuperRacing Aston Martin for 12th during the closing stages of the race, she just missed out on climbing one more position by a slender four tenths of a second and the chequered flag.
Anna Walewska – #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“We’ve had a challenging weekend here in Snetterton, but to be honest the team have done such a good job to get both cars back on circuit. In Free Practice One we had some damage on my car and an engine let go on my teammates car so hats off to them. The first race was good and we picked up some valuable points, which was good from a one-hour race. The second race was tricky, Nathan picked up some unfair damage on the opening lap. Nathan radioed through that the car was hard to drive so I knew what I was getting myself into. Despite this we managed to stay in 13th place and coming out of the last corner on the last lap I pushed as hard as I could to try and pass the Aston for 12th but I was just a couple of inches short at the line. I’m looking forward to Donington now to finish the season. I’ve gone well there last year and so have the team so hopefully we can finish the season on a high.”
Donington Park, Derby, UK – Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th September 2016.