The increasingly popular GT Cup series made their first of two visits to the Donington Park circuit over the weekend. The midway point in the season saw a few familiar faces make an appearance in preparation for the upcoming weekends British GT round also at Donington.
What is GT Cup?
Founded in 2007, GT Cup is the preferred series for Gentleman Drivers looking to make their start in motorsport.
Unique to this series is the ability for older specification GT cars to compete against modern machinery and still have the ability to compete for the overall championship. Spread over six different classes based upon the lap time potential of the specific vehicles, each class is awarded the same amount of points.
An example is the winner of each class gets 25 points, second place gets 18, and so on. Providing a further incentive for drivers to compete for the entire season to claim the crown.
GT3: Homologated GT3 Cars
The arrival of Sam and Richard Neary had the remainder of the grid worried and rightfully so. Race 1 showed these fears to be correct as Richard Neary pulled away from the field with relative ease. It wasn’t all plain sailing though as a mid-race attack from Mike Manderson in his brand new Aston Martin forced the Mercedes to go on the defensive, this turned out to be Neary taking it easy and he once again gapped the Aston to take victory by 5.6 seconds.
Race 2 wasn’t quite so straight forward. Manderson got the jump at the start and held this advantage until an issue put them a lap behind the Neary duo and the JMH Lamborghini of John Seale and Marcus Clutton. With the pitstops out of the way and the Pro drivers in the cars, what followed was a titanic battle for the win between the aforementioned duo.
Neary put on a defensive masterclass to keep Clutton at bay but on the penultimate lap, Clutton made his move. Positioning his car perfectly to get the cutback on the exit of Redgate, he dived up the inside of the Mercedes into Hollywood and astonishingly ran side by side through the fearsome Craner Curves into MacLeans where the Lamborghini eventually came out on top.
Neary wasn’t done yet and set about fighting hard to get his lead back but with the clock ticking down, there was no time and Clutton took victory by just 0.451 seconds. The Manderson, Mike Brown Aston Martin came home in third albeit one minute behind the leading pair.
Race 3 of the weekend was a Sunday morning cruise for Sam Neary who finished an astonishing one minute ahead of the G-Cat Racing Porsche. James Webb narrowly took the final podium position and the win in GTC.
The final race of the weekend saw yet another dominant performance from the Neary Mercedes. Looking to make amends for losing Race 2, there was no stopping them out on track with the closest battle being for the second position. G-Cat (with an all AM lineup) put on a mega performance to keep the gap large enough to fend off the charging Marcus Clutton.
However, a post-race investigation saw the Mercedes excluded from the results after a yellow flag infraction. Therefore handing the win to the Porsche with JMH in second and John Dhillon finishing in third, taking the GTC win in the process.
GTC: Challenge Cars
Heading into the weekend there were only three GTC cars entered into the event, however this had no effect on the quality of racing with the trio spending the majority of the time bumper to bumper.
Races 1&2 went the way of the Scott Sport Lamborghini of Jim and Glynn Geddie. Great defensive work and great racecraft saw them place their car in the right places at the right time to fend off the multitude of attacks from their fellow GTC competitors. Even catching a lucky break in Race 2 with the car parting ways with one of its wheels on the post-race slowing down lap.
Races 3&4 didn’t quite go their way with last year’s championship runner up, James Webb, taking command of the third race of the weekend, just three seconds clear of the Scott Sport Ferrari of John Dhillon and Phil Quaife. The Geddie duo was the last car to be lapped by the dominant Neary Mercedes and ultimately were off the pace of the other two cars.
Race 4 saw an absolutely faultless performance from Dhillon and Quaife as they stormed off to win the final race of the weekend. Fourteen seconds back was Webb in second place and unfortunately, that rounded out the weekend with the Geddie Lamborghini not taking the start and packing up early.
GTB: Cup Cars
GTB saw the return of Saxon Motorsport and its V10 powered BMW 1 series. They put it to good use by absolutely dominating Races 1&2. Both occasions ahead of the Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis with team owner Warren Gilbert on good form to put in some consistent performances to bag plenty of crucial championship points.
Championship leaders, Ben Clayden and Sam Randon claimed the third position in both races to maintain their championship lead heading into the final two races of the weekend.
Race 3 saw Gilbert find the pace to overhaul the Saxon BMW and win the race by five seconds at the line. It was Charlotte Gilbert (Warren’s wife) who rounded out the podium after making her return to racing during the previous event at Silverstone.
The final race of the day went the way of David Franklin who had enlisted the services of Pro driver Will Tregurtha after his regular drive wasn’t ready after grenading its gearbox during the previous round. It was Tregurtha who put on a masterclass in the older spec 991 Porsche cup car who threw caution to the wind and set sail to finish a lap ahead of their nearest rivals.
These just so happened to be Randon and Clayden who had now lost their championship lead to their teammates who are running in GTA. Saxon Motorsport rounded out their weekend by claiming a fourth podium from four races.
GTH: Homologated GT4 Cars
A crushing performance from reigning champions, John Whitehouse and Steve Ruston, saw them throw themselves right back into championship contention after winning all four races from the weekend. Now in third place overall, they have every chance to haul in the leaders with two rounds (8 races) remaining in the truncated 2020 season.
Behind the all-conquering McLaren, the action was frenetic with a variety of different drivers making an appearance to the rostrum. Most notably was the Speedworks Toyota Supra GT4 driven by Ron Johnson and BTCC ace Tom Ingram.
Having already shown a strong pace in the British GT it was no surprise to see this car up the sharp end. Taking a podium in the eventful Race 2 they were followed by Motus One who survived to take third after their rivals faltered.
British GT regular, Alex Toth-Jones, also made an appearance this weekend driving the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin GT4 claiming two podium positions in the process.
The remaining podiums were taken by Feathers Motorsport, Scott Sport and Whitebridge Motorsport meaning all cars in the class managed to secure a Top 3 over the course of the weekend.
GTA: Lower Specification & One Make Cars
GTA saw the Team Hard Ginetta of Joshua Jackson and Simon Orange take over the championship lead from their GTB teammates as mentioned earlier.
The weekend didn’t quite go to plan though. Contact early in Race 1 saw the Ginetta beached in the gravel at MacLeans. Luckily the marshals were able to quickly recover the car but no safety car meant they dropped laps behind.
To make matters worse, Orange (who was driving at the time) was fined £150 for racing with his sleeves rolled up and therefore exposing bare skin, a big no-no in motorsport.
It came good for Races 3&4 though with easy victories for the Ginetta. Race 1 was taken by the sister car of Russ Lindsay and Patrick Collins who held off the manic battle for second in the GTH class. Four cars were covered by just 2.4 seconds showing that interclass battles are a possibility in GT Cup. Orange still managed to crawl home in third after his early skirmish, albeit four laps down.
Race 2 went the way of Century Motorsports Alex Steveson and James Kellett coming home 18 seconds clear of Jackson and Orange with Lindsay and Collins rounding out the Top 3.
GTO: Open specification cars
GTO saw the hugely anticipated return of Richard Chamberlains extravagant Porsche 935. However, it was not to be, with technical issues limiting running to only Race 2 of the weekend. Having missed qualifying, a back of the grid start was in order but this didn’t seem to bother Chamberlain as he carved his way through the field in arguably the fastest car on the grid.
Technical demons would unfortunately strike again midway through the race, not only ending the race for the Porsche but also the weekend.
The championship resumes on the 10th October at Brands Hatch for the penultimate round of the season. I will be in attendance providing coverage from that meeting to see if Randon and Clayden can reclaim their championship lead or if the JMH boys can thrust their way up to the front.