Aleksander Schjerpen signed a last minute deal with his long standing team Century Motorsport in the days leading up to the Silverstone 500 round of the 2017 British GT Championship that would see him make his GT3 debut and a return to a series that he’s competed in over the last three seasons.
Coming straight from a test at the Nürburgring with his new team for 2017 Leipert Motorsport, aboard their Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo that he will race in the remaining rounds of the 2017 Creventic 24 Hour Series, Schjerpen opted to take the opportunity with Century Motorsport to secure some additional track time ahead of his Lamborghini race debut at Imola in two weeks’ time.
Boasting a 4.3 Litre Chevrolet LS3 engine with 570bhp and weighing just over 1000kg capable of reaching a top speed of 180mph, Aleksander climbed aboard Ginetta’s flagship GT3 machine for the first time on Friday for some brief test laps. Schjerpen used the time to settle into his unfamiliar surroundings and get to grips with the new systems and procedures within the advanced Ginetta G55.
Refining the setup with Charlie Robertson his new teammate for the weekend, Schjerpen went into Saturday’s Free Practice one aiming to build up his speed and close the gap to Robertson. Improving with every lap, the true pace and performance of the heavily revised for 2017 Ginetta G55 GT3 was starting to shine through, significantly highlighted by Charlie’s third fastest time overall in Free Practice two.
Going into Qualifying, starting positions for Sunday’s three hour race would be decided based upon a combination of both driver’s best efforts. Schjerpen went first, with his best run from the ten minute session leaving him in tenth as he handed the car over to the flying Scotsman. Charlies best lap left him in ninth and on combined times, the pair would line up on the outside of row five for Sunday’s 180 minute extravaganza.
A drama-free and clean run in Sunday’s 10-minute warm-up paved the way for a confident approach to the afternoon’s race. Aleksander started the race for the #19 team and making sure he was in it for the long run, kept his nose clean on the opening lap to remain in tenth. From there, Schjerpen now found himself in battle for ninth with the experienced Lee Mowle aboard the Mercedes AMG-GT3, with the Norwegian’s skill in the corners allowing him to close the gap before the German marque would stretch it’s legs on the straights.
Pitting just before the turn of the hour, Robertson took over and aimed to build on Aleksander’s progress. He too found himself enjoying the improved pace and performance of the G55 since his last outing in the car earlier this year and wasn’t afraid to mix with some of the championship favourites.
Such was Robertson’s pace that when he pitted on lap 51 to hand the car back to Schjerpen for his second stint, the duo were now up to seventh as Aleksander left the pits. However the crew were about to be dealt a blow to their chances of a fairy-tale result when the pitlane marshals deemed their pitstop to be too short and handed down a stop and go penalty. Getting that quickly out of the way, Schjerpen resumed his charge and another drama free run saw him back into the pits from fifth on lap 68 to allow Charlie take the car to the flag.
Approaching the final ten-minutes, Robertson was back in the pits with a braking issue, quickly diagnosed and resolved by the team in record time he was back on circuit to take a significant and highly deserved finish in tenth overall, second in class of the Silver/Silver pairings.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #19 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“All in all it’s been a really good weekend and very nice to be back with Century Motorsport driving the Ginetta G55 GT3. It’s been a steep learning curve that’s for sure, but I think we found some speed with every lap. The race started good, we were a little unlucky with the pitstop penalty and the braking issue, but we got to the finish line and I’m really happy with it. It was really nice to race with Charlie Robertson this weekend, he’s been really good to work with and help me settle into the car, so thank you to Century Motorsport for the opportunity, it’s been a great car to drive.”