Since joining the British GT Championship in 2014, Snetterton has been one of the strongest circuits on the calendar for Aleksander Schjerpen. Having scored at least one podium each year, the Norwegian was hoping for a repeat performance this time round along with his rapid British GT rookie teammate Sean Byrne.
Unfortunately the pair would suffer some cruel luck on the opening lap of Free Practice One, with their engine letting go coming out of Bomb Hole corner. From there, the Century mechanics set about the mammoth task of swapping the engine out, and unbelievably just two and half hours later, Sean pulled out of the garage to start the final 22 minutes of Free Practice two – testament to the efforts of everyone working on the car.
With just enough time for the pair to get some introductory laps each, Qualifying looked set to be a real test as they worked on the balance of their VA Tech Ginetta. Sean got Qualifying started for the opening 10-minute session and put in a superb performance to put himself ninth on the grid for the first race of the weekend. Taking over the car for the second part of qualifying, Aleksander Schjerpen was hoping he could put himself in a place to move up the order in race two. However compromised laps during the early part of the session meant it would be a last lap shoot out for the Norwegian. However with a car off at the end of the Bentley Straight, the red flags were shown just before Schjerpen could complete his lap, leaving him down in 17th place for the second race of the weekend.
A clearly on-form Sean Byrne made a good start on Sunday morning for the first of two 60-minute races. By the second lap Byrne was now in eighth and starting to put in some consistently fast lap times. By lap ten, Byrne had slipped to ninth as the pitstop window opened. As one of the lucky ones to find a gap in the traffic on pitroad, Aleksander returned to the track in record time as he set off in hot pursuit of the main pack.
However all was not well in his #40 Ginetta, initially calling in that he had a puncture after suffering a wild spin into Brundle, Schjerpen had now slipped down the order as he struggled with poor rear handling rather than any puncture. From that point onwards, Schjerpen nursed his car to the finish crossing the line in 12th.
Starting the second and final race of the weekend from the back of the grid, Aleksander got a good start to remain with the main pack. As the race progressed, Schjerpen worked his way up to 15th at the pitstop window. With the rapid Sean Byrne now in the car, he picked up where Aleksander left off to move the crew further up the order. Another superb stint saw the British GT newcomer move up five places to finish the race in tenth position.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #40 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It’s been a challenging weekend really. It didn’t start off too good with a blown engine in Free Practice One. But the Century guys did an incredible job to get us out for the end of Free Practice Two, which was really great. We struggled a little bit in qualifying to find a good balance after not getting much running in Free Practice. In the races on Sunday Sean did a brilliant job all day. I struggled a bit in the first race but in the second race we managed to work hard and finish 10th which was ok. Now I’m really looking forward to Donington. It has been kind to us in the past and the Ginetta goes very well there so I think Donington is going to be a good one too finish the season on a high.”
Donington Park, Derby, UK – Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th September 2016.