nathan-freke-rockingham-1.jpgNathan Freke moved to Rockingham for round two of the 2017 British GT Championship hoping to build on his GT3 debut at the opening rounds in Oulton Park. Apart from some selected one-off outings in the past, 2017 was the Kidderminster driver’s first fully committed season racing in British GT’s top class, and he was keen to make the most of the opportunity.

Benefiting from a full pre-event test day at the unique American-themed circuit, Freke, already a Rockingham race winner was hoping this would be the weekend to show the potential of the improved Ginetta G55 GT3. Following a trouble free run in Free Practice one, Freke and co-driver Harry Gottsacker found themselves searching for more time from their car compared to their teammates in the sister #19 G55. Working hard between the sessions with their engineers, Free Practice two was far more representative of the improved pace of the GT3 Ginetta. Nathan and Harry completed the session inside the top ten, Freke’s best effort placing them just over a second off the sessions best time.

Rejuvenated following their Free Practice two form, the pair were set for Qualifying which would run in the customary two ten-minute session format. Gottsacker was first on circuit to complete his part, achieving the 11th fastest time in the ultra-close session. Freke was next on board to post his best effort. Improving on his earlier time, Nathan’s 10th fastest time helped the pair to start the race from tenth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

With everything going to plan during Sunday morning’s ten-minute Warm-up, the crew were setup nicely for round three of the 2017 British GT Championship, this weekend with a running distance of two hours that would see drivers complete their scheduled pitstop at the one hour mark. Harry Gottsacker took the start in the #69 Ginetta and when the race got underway, he looked set to repeat his Oulton Park early performance, moving up one position by the end of the opening lap. However all his good work was undone during the second lap, when an ABS sensor issue caused him to run off the track at Tarzan, necessitating a Safety Car to aid his recovery. Limping his Ginetta back to the pits, the team quickly gave the car the all clear, enabling him to re-join the race. Using the remainder of his stint to increase his GT3 experience, Gottsacker’s race took a further blow when the officials deemed him to be exceeding the track limits, handing him a five-second time penalty for the offence.

Pitting after one hour and fifteen minutes on circuit, Nathan Freke took over to complete the race. However their race was set to take a further twist, with the officials deeming their pitstop to be inside the minimum stop time and earning them a 30 second stop and go penalty. It later turned out that the penalty was caused by a calculation error on the part of the event Timekeepers, but cruelly Freke had now served the penalty and the damage to their race was done. From there it was a series of development laps for Nathan over the closing stages of the race, gathering some valuable data ahead of the next rounds at Snetterton.

Nathan Freke - #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“Coming away from this weekend the big positive to focus on is our vastly improved pace. We’ve been able to get much closer to the front runners which is a real confidence boost. Harry did a great job again and had it not been for the off on lap two, I think we could have had a real shot at a top result. If we can take this pace to Snetterton I think we could be in with a good shout for a strong finish.”

Harry Gottsacker - #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“The pace has been there this weekend which is good. I think if we can fix our little breaking issues and work out how to be fast at the start of the race I think we should be on point. If we can get these things sorted out we should be running with the guys out front at the next weekend.”

Next Round:
Rounds 4 & 5, Snetterton 300, Norwich, UK - Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th May 2017.