Following on from a sensational British GT debut at Brands Hatch where the Dubliner almost finished his maiden outing aboard the Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 on the podium, Niall Murray was back alongside Jacob Mathiassen for the final round of the 2017 season and keen to achieve that result he narrowly missed out on last time out.
With the team having had the opportunity to test their #43 Ginetta at Donington Park with Mathiassen at the wheel prior to the event, confidence was high coming into the weekend at a circuit that has proven to be strong for the Yorkshire marque in recent seasons.
Saturday morning’s free practice sessions quickly proved that GT4 was going to be ultra-close throughout the weekend with just tenths of a second separating the majority of the field. Going into qualifying, Murray and Mathiassen along with their Engineers worked hard on their G55 to try and address some braking discomforts and find a better overall balance. However luck wasn’t set to go their way in qualifying. A red flag stoppage in the middle of Jacob’s session and Niall’s best lap hindered by another competitor coming out of the final corner would see the pair start from fourteenth amongst the GT4 runners on Sunday.
Remaining unhappy with the brakes aboard their Ginetta, some overnight alterations proved to be the solution. Mathiassen reporting a much nicer car from Sunday morning’s ten minute Warm-up leaving the young Silver/Silver duo confident of a big performance going into the race.
Getting underway just after 13.30, Mathiassen got a superb start and lit up the timing screens making it clear that he was ready for a big charge. After just ten laps the Dane was already inside the top ten and showing no signs of backing off. However his progress was about to be dealt a blow when contact coming out of the final corner from the Rollcentre Mercedes spun him around, instantly costing him over ten seconds and one place in class in the process.
Quickly dusting himself off, Jacob got his head down and coming into the pits just into the second hour was eighth in class as he handed the car over to Murray to complete the race. A superbly executed pitstop from the Century Motorsport mechanics allowed Niall to return to the circuit in eighth and resume their charge. Charge he did, Niall was instantly one of the fastest GT4 drivers on circuit and during the early part of his stint was in a nail biting two lap battle for position with former Ginetta Junior rival Jake Giddings that eventually saw the Irish man come out on top going onto the Melbourne loop.
As the race went on, Murray’s progress combined with those around him faltering now had him up to fifth and next on his shopping list was teammate and Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson in the #111 Ginetta. Eating into an almost six second gap with every lap, inside the final five laps the battle now became a race for the final podium position when a puncture for the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren put them out of contention.
Niall didn’t need any more incentive, and with two laps to go he got a superb run on Simpson coming through the chicane. Despite the #111 driver trying to defend the inside line, Murray already had his nose ahead to complete the move at the Melbourne Hairpin. Over the final laps, Niall continued to push and he built his advantage in third to over two seconds as he took the chequered flag.
Niall Murray – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“I’m absolutely over the moon to be on the podium here at one of my favourite circuits. We knew after Brands that we could be strong here. Qualifying didn’t really go to plan for us, but Jacob did a great stint at the start of the race and then in the second half the car was great and allowed me to push with every lap. I’ve enjoyed my two outings in the British GT Championship and it’s definitely given me something to think about in the off season. A big thank you to everyone at Century Motorsport for having me and to my sponsors for helping to make this happen including Murray Motorsport and CL Brakes.”