Century Motorsport will graduate to the British GT Championship’s GT3 class for the first time in 2017 after being confirmed as Ginetta’s official factory squad in a deal that sees two heavily revised G55s entered on a full-season basis.
The first of the cars will be driven by Century stalwart Nathan Freke and 17-year-old American Harry Gottsacker, who contested last season’s Pirelli World Challenge at the wheel of a GT4-spec Ginetta.
The second of the team’s driver pairings will be announced in the coming weeks.
Century are no strangers to Ginetta having campaigned all manner of the Yorkshire firm’s products over the past decade, including both the G50 and G55 in British GT. It also assisted with the original G55 GT3’s development in 2011 and is now responsible for overseeing the model’s latest iteration in domestic competition.
The 2017-spec G55 differs significantly from its predecessors thanks to an all-new 570bhp Chevrolet LS3 engine - the same as found in Ginetta’s G57 sports-prototype - which has been repositioned to improve weight distribution. A revised front splitter has also been added, while key changes to the brakes and driver interface are also expected to aid performance.
Century and Ginetta will both be hoping that the changes allow them to fight for the G55’s maiden British GT3 victory. Its best result remains the second place finish achieved by Steve Tandy and Mike Simpson at Oulton Park in 2015.
Former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award Nominee and Formula Ford champion Freke is considered one of British GT’s fastest GT4 drivers, but this season will be his first aboard a factory-supported GT3 car.
“This is a really exciting year for both Century and Ginetta as together we’re mounting a serious attack on British GT,” he said. “We helped run the GT3 car when it first came out in 2011, but this year marks the first time we’ll be involved with a properly competitive GT3 entry.
“The changes to the car are massive. The new Chevrolet engine offers more low-down torque and usable power and the chassis changes will aid slow-speed traction.
“It will be interesting working with Harry as he’s a promising young driver. He’ll have a lot to learn with the UK tracks and style of racing, but we’ll work with him and he’ll only get stronger as the year goes on.”
Ginetta technical director Ewan Baldry hinted that more changes were on the horizon for 2018.
“We know the Chevrolet engine so well from the development in the G57-P2 and it’s perfect for GT usage,” he said. “The Nissan was a very aggressive engine and we had some vibration issues with it. The Chevrolet is a lower-revving unit with a better torque band. The investment in GT3 this year is a big one as we want to get that win, and also use what we find to build towards our new plans for 2018.”
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DID YOU KNOW?
Ginetta, British GT’s most successful GT4 constructor, might never have won a domestic GT3 race, but one of its cars has taken the chequered flag first on several occasions.
In 2009 its Barwell Motorsport-prepared G50Z, running as an Invitation entry outside of the general classification, claimed three ‘victories’. The first two came at Rockingham with Joe Osborne and Ollie Bryant, before Phil Quaife and Leo Machitski added a third at Brands Hatch.
The G50Z’s engine was the same, albeit de-tuned, Zytek V8 unit as used in A1GP and LMP1. Its pending GT3 homologation meant it was unable to compete in the general classification but did pave the way for the Ginettas that have raced from 2011 onwards.