Returning to the usual two-day format, GT Cup rolled into an unusually sunny Snetterton to start round three of their 2021 campaign. There were some notable absences with many of the British GT regulars who appeared at Brands Hatch deciding not to make the trip to the Norfolk circuit. However, there was a high profile entry in Top Gear’s Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris who piloted a Team HARD-prepared Ginetta G55 Supercup car in GTA.
Bouncing back from an impressive performance last time out, Richard and Sam Neary looked to continue their impressive form in the most successful Mercedes-AMG GT3 car in the world.
Race 1 saw Richard Neary lead away from pole position and fend off the GTO class leaders into Riches for the first time. From then on it was plain sailing as he cruised to a 17-second victory despite a late-race safety car.
Behind him, things were a bit more frantic as John Dhillon made contact with another car which caused a front-left puncture to his Scott Sport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo.
Lucky Khera would ultimately have a quiet race running in fourth until the CTR Porsche 935 and JMH Lamborghini came together and put him right onto John Seale’s gearbox. After several laps of sizing him up, Khera made his move into Williams with two minutes to go.
This turned out to be a crucial move as Grahame Tilley was rapidly closing in the Tecserv/TripleM Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, with the lapped John Dhillon right behind him. Luckily for Khera, he was well up the road once Tilley made his move on the final lap of the race.
Race 2 saw Neary lead away from pole but this time the monstrous Porsche 935 started alongside him and powered through into the lead by the time they reached Riches. Although this wasn’t for class position, Neary didn’t waste any time in getting back through. Ultimately, he would hand over to Sam who brought the car home for another dominant victory despite a 20-second pit success penalty.
John Dhillon’s troubled weekend continued as Seale lunged up the inside into the Wilson hairpin and spun Dhillon around and forced the RAW Motorsport Radical RXC onto the grass. Fortunately, Dhillon was able to get going quickly whilst Seale remained stationary until the entire field had passed.
This didn’t seem to trouble the team too much as they would still come home in second place thanks to a stunning drive from co-driver, Phil Quaife. Not only that but finishing 12-seconds behind the race-winning Mercedes was no easy feat.
Grahame Tilley and Will Tregurtha rounded off the podium after a thrilling closing stage to the race.
Race 3 once again saw Sam Neary behind the wheel and storm off to a victory by 47-seconds from Lucky Khera in the Simon Green Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán and the ever consistent Grahame Tilley in the Nissan.
The final race of the day saw Neary, Dhillon, Khera, and Tilley all engaged in a fierce battle as they navigated the safety car restarts. After the second restart, things started to spread out until the final round of pitstops.
The success penalty for the Nearys’ Team Abba Racing Mercedes led to a thrilling moment. Will Tregurtha, having taken over the Nissan, fired up his tires brilliantly and as Sam Neary emerged from the pits on cold tires, Will attempted an audacious maneuver around the outside of Riches and almost made it stick. Neary kept his wits about him and maintained his position heading into Wilson.
From then on Neary cruised to the fourth win, Phil Quaife managed to power past Tregurtha in traffic to claim another second place with Tregurtha rounding out the podium in third.
For the first time in 2021, the SB Race Engineering Brabham BT62 would take part in a race weekend. It was, however, a rather truncated weekend for the open class.
Race 1 saw the JMH Automotive Lamborghini of John Seale start from second overall and P1 in class with Richard Chamberlain behind in third in the orange CTR Developments Porsche 935.
For the majority of the race, it would be the white Lamborghini of Seale trying to find a way past the bright orange Porsche. Ultimately it would come to a head at Oggies just after the safety car restart.
Seale lunged up the inside of Chamberlain but couldn’t stop in time and clattered into the side of the Porsche, ultimately ending its race. Seale didn’t get off scot-free either as his pace dramatically reduced and was passed by Ben Dimack in the RAW Motorsport Radical RXC GT3 on the final lap.
A crucial move by the Radical as it secured them the class victory from Seale and Paul Bailey brought the Brabham home third in class after a quiet race.
Race 2 saw yet another blinding launch by the 935 who managed to briefly take the lead from Richard Neary before settling back into second.
It also marked another collision for Seale as he punted John Dhillon’s Lamborghini and dropped to the very back of the field.
Ultimately, it was a quiet race in class with Chamberlain dropping out after mechanical issues struck and the RAW Radical just not showing the pace it did in the earlier race. And with Seale at the back, it was left to Paul Bailey to keep his nose clean, which he did.
Handing over to Ross Wylie, the car truly came alive. Setting fastest lap after fastest lap, he was on a charge to catch the Tecserv Nissan now piloted by former British GT GT4 champion, Will Tregurtha. Taking seconds per lap out of the Nissan, it would be a last-lap pass which didn’t affect class position but did secure an overall podium position in third, taking the first win for the Brabham BT62 project.
Jamie Stanley took over from Seale and brought the car home second in class with the Radical coming home a distant third.
Race 3 would be the last for GTO this weekend. Chamberlain’s Porsche required significant repairs, so they didn’t compete during any of Sunday’s action.
The race itself saw no finishers as the Radical hit serious mechanical issues whilst the remaining two cars came to blows.
Seale driving once again looked to make a move around the outside of Coram (giving him the inside line to Murrays) but misjudged his speed and smashed into the side of the Brabham before embedding himself in the tire wall. This put both cars out immediately with the damage on the Brabham too much to fix before the final race.
The JMH Lamborghini ultimately was declared responsible for the incident and disqualified from Sunday’s sprint race and banned from the final race of the day with the same penalty as Leo Machitski was slapped with last time out at Brands Hatch.
This left no winners for race 3 and no starters for race 4.
Yet another dominant performance from Topcats Racing saw Jensen Lunn and Warren Gilbert sweep the weekend’s races to maintain their overall and class championship lead.
Such was their pace over the weekend that they continually mixed with the tail end of the GT3 field, unheard of in a Huracán Super Trofeo. Only a mechanical issue in race 2 saw them drop down the field but with the two Stanbridge Motorsport cars having already retired, their class lead was not in jeopardy.
Chris Kemp and Stuart Hall now are 71 points adrift of the class lead and already it looks as if Topcats have the momentum on their side to claim the GTC title.
Sam Randon continued his championship fight in good style by winning both of Saturday’s races in dominant fashion. The Porsche driver coupled with co-driver, Richard Marsh, expertly controlled his Team HARD Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to worry the competition heading into day two.
Ultimately, it wasn’t Randon who scored the glory the next day, it was rather Nick Phelps in the Valluga Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The sprint race would see Phelps take his first-class win in the championship after scoring two podiums on Saturday, coming home a lap clear of James Hillery in the 24/7 Motorsport Porsche and Randon.
Sunday’s endurance race saw Phelps partnered with a pro driver for the first time this year. Former ELMS competitor, Sean Doyle, would take over from Phelps and even saw the Porsche overtake the Topcats Lamborghini and the Ultimate Speed Aston Martin Vantage GT3 on track to claim an impressive fifth-place finish and the class victory.
It was a disaster for Team HARD whose race ended early after Marsh ran wide at Murray’s and head straight into the barriers, causing terminal damage to the fragile Porsche.
The remaining podiums were claimed by Andy Robey in the Gemini Motorsport Marcos Mantis and David Frankland and James Hillery in the 24/7 Porsche.
For the first time in 2021, GTH saw four class winners from the four races over the weekend.
Josh Jackson continued his great form by winning race 1 by 2.6-seconds from Moh Ritson in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren 570s GT4. He would continue this form by taking two further podiums with a second in race 3 and a third in race 4. This now leaves him sixth in the overall standings and first in GTH.
After their success in race 1, Ritson and co-driver, Tom Rawlings, claimed not only their maiden victory but also the first victory for the newly formed Paddock Motorsport which was set up by British GT fan favourites, Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher.
Up to this point, the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 had quietly claimed two third-place finishes, the first podiums for Mike Price and Callum MacLeod. Race 3 would further boost the team’s momentum as Mike Price took his first win. However, with three cars separated by less than a second, it was a well-earned victory in what was a dramatic finish. Jackson took the flag just 0.4-seconds behind the McLaren whilst Morgan Tillbrook made up for his British GT error by finishing third, just 0.5-seconds behind Jackson in his Mercedes-AMG GT4.
The final winner was the Greystone GT pairing of Mark Hopton and Adam Carroll. It was another close finish as just 2.3 seconds behind was the charging Tom Canning who took over from Darren Turner this weekend. He would finish second in the Feathers Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 which was shared by James Guess.
Once again it was Simon Orange in his Ginetta G55 Supercup car. Having elected to drive this car for the entire weekend, it turned out to be a good choice. Winning two races and finishing third in the other two, his championship hopes were further strengthened. Now third in the overall standings and first in GTA, if he can keep up this form, he has a strong shout at retaining his crown.
Race 1, however, was not won by Orange, in fact, it was Stephen Walton in the Make Happen Racing Ginetta who took the victory ahead of Craig Wilkins in the Scott Sport Ginetta. His weekend would go downhill from here as contact in race 2 caused an early retirement and even for the car to be ruled out for the weekend. Wilkins and team owner, Aaron Scott, would ultimately borrow a car from Team HARD but would make the podium again.
After Orange claimed race 2, Walton and Chris Hart secured another podium, just 3.5-seconds behind the Orange Ginetta. After some strong performances in 2020, Alex Stevenson and James Kellett added a third-place finish to their repertoire. This would not be the highlight of their weekend as race 4 saw the Century Motorsport car claim their first victory of the season.
Race 3 saw Ian Duggan in the mismatched Fox Motorsport car take another podium finish with second place and Seb Melrose claimed third on his debut. He took over the #10 Ginetta from BBC Top Gear’s Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris who piloted the car with mixed results.
Melrose would continue his impressive pace by slotting between race winners Stevenson and Kellet and the third places Orange in the final race of the day.
GT Cup returns for round 4 on the 3rd of July for another one-day meeting at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.
Will the Neary’s continue their win streak, can Jackson maintain his advantage in GTH and will we see GTO bounce back?
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