The 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship made its annual trip overseas this weekend to the famous Spa-Francorchamps for the second two-hour race of the season. The Belgian circuit is a known favourite for Aleksander Schjerpen, who was hoping to put the disappointment of Silverstone behind him with a strong result.
Schjerpen and teammate James Birch made their intentions of making their debut visit to the podium this season very clear in free practice. Finishing third fastest in FP1, the pair went on to set the fastest time in FP2.
Carrying their impressive pace into qualifying, the pair’s combined times from the 30 minute session placed them third on the grid for Saturday’s 120 minute race and the leading GT4 Ginetta. However after the session, the team discovered a minor engine issue, which required a precautionary engine change over night.
With no morning warm-up session this weekend, it was straight into the race just after 12pm on Saturday. Aleksander was chosen to start the two-hour battle, and got things underway in excellent style to remain in third exiting the first corner. A textbook early series of laps allowed Schjerpen to secure his third place before mounting a charge to move up to second position. However his progress was hampered when his Ginetta developed a gear selection problem, later identified to be an issue with the car’s steering wheel after a visit to the pits. Now a number of laps down, the team opted to make their driver change pitstop just after the half waypoint in the race. James set about trying to make his way back up the order and secure some all important championship points, however his charge came to an abrupt end as a result of contact with an Aston Martin shortly into his stint.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“We started this weekend a little unsure of where we would be against the other drivers. James and I found a really good pace in FP1 and went really quick. In FP2, James and I was the fastest car in GT4, which we were really happy with. The team did a brilliant job with the car to find a great balance and setup. Qualifying also went really well getting P3 for the race. This was James’ first time here, so I was able to share some of my experience with him. In the race, I had a really good start to hold my position. Unfortunately we had a steering wheel issue so I had to go to the pits. But before that I felt like I could have pushed really hard in this race. Hopefully we can bring this pace to the next race and not have anymore bad luck!”