British GT Championship frontrunners Century Motorsport claimed SP3 class honours at the Dubai 24 Hours on Saturday thanks to a dominant performance from series regulars Anna Walewska, Nathan Freke, Tom Oliphant and Aleksander Schjerpen aboard the #229 Ginetta G55 GT4.
Elsewhere, Optimum Motorsport warmed up for its forthcoming British GT campaign with a fifth place overall finish on its first outing with the same 2016-spec Audi R8 LMS GT3 it will race domestically this season.
Century’s strong practice pace and second place on the grid suggested the Fenny Compton-based squad would be amongst the frontrunners throughout, and so it proved. With only a minor fuel tank issue and premature brake pad failure hampering their progress, the crew was able to come home four laps clear of their nearest rivals.
Walewska, whose links with the University of Bolton saw a number of student engineers help run the car, said: “I am absolutely thrilled, the team and car did an excellent job. The car was faultless other than one minor fuelling issue. I drove with a quality line-up and my thanks to all the drivers for doing such a superb job. My first Dubai 24 Hours and we won. A great start to the year with Century Motorsport. My thanks to The University of Bolton, the students who were with us all weekend and Westons.”
There was British GT interest on all three SP3 podium steps, with Academy Motorsport boss Matt Nicoll-Jones part of the second placed driver crew. Third went the way of JWB Motorsport’s all-British GT driver line-up of Jake Giddings, Rory Butcher, and Griffin brothers Liam and Kieran, while Century’s second, albeit delayed, Ginetta finished fourth.
Meanwhile, Optimum’s impressive showing resulted in a fourth place A6-Pro class finish and fifth overall. British GT title protagonist Joe Osborne qualified the Audi sixth amongst a world class field before his and the crew’s efforts, including those of former British GT4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe, moved the R8 to the head of the field. Lengthy repairs for crash damage ultimately scuppered their chances of victory, but the team will nevertheless be buoyed by their pace ahead of the domestic season.
Elsewhere, British GT stalwarts David and Godfrey Jones took their Preci-Spark Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to a mightily impressive sixth overall and second place in the A6-Am category.