Nathan Freke is no stranger to top results at Donington Park. Over the past three seasons, Freke has been on the British GT podium twice in that time and was keen to pull off a repeat performance this time around. The longer races have suited Freke and co-driver Anna Walewska this season, so Donington Park’s two hour format presented the ideal format for another top result.
Free practice on Saturday morning was hampered with red flags on a heavily wet circuit during the two sessions. Lighting up the timing screens in both sessions however was the #73 University of Bolton and Westons Ginetta of Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska. Pleased with their performance, they were hoping this would be a sign of things to come for qualifying, to soften the blow of a five-place grid penalty carried over from the last round at Snetterton.
Qualifying was a typically hard fought shootout. Anna felt her best lap was compromised during the session, with her best time putting her 13th in the AM class. Just one second split the top ten in the Pro, Nathan’s best effort just six tenths shy of the pace sitting Beechdean Aston Martin. On combined times, the pair would place their G55 11th overall in GT4.
A drama-free morning warm-up set the scene for a good day on Sunday, with glorious blue skies lighting up the picturesque former Grand Prix circuit. Now starting from 16th on the grid courtesy of their five-place grid drop from Snetterton, getting a good start was going to be vital. Anna did just that and she had already jumped three places on the opening tour as the Safety Car was deployed to deal with a first corner incident.
Racing resumed on lap four and Anna was now locked onto Aaron Mason’s Ginetta hoping to continue her speedy promotion up the order. By the mid-point in her stint, Walewska was now up to thirteenth in GT4 and lapping consistently on every tour. As the pitstop window opened at the 50-minute mark, shortly afterwards Anna dived into the pits, a superbly executed stop sent Nathan Freke out on circuit, fully fueled and with new tyres, ready for a big push to the end of the race.
Once the pitstop shuffle was complete, Freke was now up to tenth in GT4, and eagerly looking to move further up the order. Starting to put a sequence of strong laps together, Freke had catapulted himself up to seventh before capitalising on the struggling Ross Gunn five laps from the end to move into sixth. There he would remain as he crossed the finish line, but some post race penalties would promote the duo to fifth and with it, reward their challenging season with third overall in the 2016 British GT4 Pro/AM Drivers Championship.
Nathan Freke – #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It’s been one of those bitter sweet weekends really. Free Practice suggested that we could be in with a good chance of a podium to finish the season, but in the race it just wasn’t to be, especially with the penalty from Snetterton. However both Anna and I never gave up and it paid dividends in the end as the fifth place finished helped us to third overall in the GT4 Pro/AM Championship which is a nice reward for everyone’s efforts this year. I’d like to say a special thank you to the University of Bolton and Westons for supporting both myself and Anna this year. We’ve had some brilliant races and results, so roll on 2017!”