Having made his British GT podium debut at the Cheshire circuit in 2014, the Norwegian driver was hoping to make a similar start to his 2015 season.
A wet track and some minor teething issues with the car in Saturday’s pair of Free Practice sessions hindered a large part of their track time. The afternoon qualifying session ultimately became an extended test session with James setting the third best time in the Amateur session before Aleksander, who was effectively getting his first clean laps of the weekend, set the fifteenth fastest time for the second and final race on Monday.
After the traditional Easter Sunday break, the action recommenced on Easter Monday with a ten-minute morning warm up. The team opting to send both of their drivers out for a single flying lap to acclimatise themselves with some setup adjustments following Saturday’s running.
Teammate James Birch got round one underway starting from third in GT4 at Noon. A good opening sequence came to a dramatic close, when James was forced to take to the grass in avoiding action of a GT3 incident up ahead. Following the incident, the Safety Car was deployed and instantly the team called for a driver change pitstop to capitalise on the opportunity. What appeared to be a superbly executed pitstop, was later deemed to be too quick by a mere 0.7 seconds, incurring a stop and go penalty in the early stages of the second stint, now under Aleksander’s control. Slipping from the class lead to fifth, Aleksander consolidated the position to the flag to secure some solid points for the championship.
Now much happier in the car, Schjerpen lined up on the grid to start the second and final 60 minute encounter of the weekend. Getting off to a good start, Aleksander quickly dispatched the Lotus up ahead before loosing the position a couple of laps later. With the race evidently becoming more of a sprint race than a one-hour endurance, Aleksander put in a solid stint to stay with the pack before handing the car over to James just inside the pit window. Taking advantage of an early stop, the team was now up to ninth position with Birch putting in a series of personal best lap times to close the gap down. While running in seventh in the final minutes of the race, a steering issue from an earlier corner cutting incident sent James off the road, leaving the #43 Ginetta stricken within sight of the finish line. When the final results were posted, the pair were classified twelfth in GT4, and with it, earning some more all important championship points.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“The start of the weekend was a little bit difficult. We had some small electrical issues, but once we got that sorted we got a good setup and found some good pace. Both James and I needed some track time, which we lost during free practice, so we just used qualifying more like a test. Race one was pretty good; we were leading the race after the safety car but then fell down to fifth with the penalty and a small suspension issue. Race two was really tough; we had to treat it like a sprint race. All the other guys out there are just so fast. Unfortunately James didn’t make it to the finish but now we will focus on having a better run at Rockingham next time out.”
Rockingham will play host to the next round of the 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship featuring a single two-hour race on Sunday 3rd May 2015.