The 2021 GT Cup championship arrived at Silverstone ready for round 5 of what has already been an enthralling year.
Team Abba made their return having missed last weekend’s British GT event at Snetterton with a newly reshelled car. An impressive feat seeing as the car was only finished at 1:30 am on Friday morning ready for testing later that day.
In the remaining classes, there was no shortage of action with wheel to wheel action aplenty throughout the field.
As has been the trend throughout the rest of the year, Team Abba’s Sam and Richard Neary were on top form despite the new car. Taking three outright race victories and four class victories on what was described as a shakedown run.
It almost wasn’t to be however with a couple of close calls on Saturday. Race 1 seeing Richard lead away from pole but not realizing that the SBR Engineering Brabham BT62 was alongside him, he shut the door hard into Copse making contact with the Brabham which caused it to spin in front of the entire field. Neary managed to exit unscathed and only lost one position which was quickly made back up.
Race 2 saw a fantastic duel between Sam and Ross Wylie who had taken over the Brabham from Paul Bailey in the pitstop race. Although Neary emerged from the pits ahead of the Brabham, a mid-race safety car bunched up the field and brought the Brabham back into contention after a pitlane start. What then followed was a defensive masterclass by the Mercedes driver to keep the much faster Brabham behind for a few laps.
Wylie then made a move into Stowe corner but was balked by traffic and Neary squeezed his way through, forcing Wylie to launch over the inside kerbing to avoid contact. Ultimately, this just fired up Wylie even more and the next lap, he repeated the move and made it stick. Neary had no answer this time and brought the car home in second.
The following two races featured much less drama for the now all-black Mercedes as they scooped up the remaining victories to further bolster their title chances with a 37-point advantage over Topcats Racing in second place.
John Dhillon had an eventful weekend but still managed to claim three-second place finishes, and this was despite his co-driver, Phil Quaife, falling ill before the weekend. His replacement however was no slouch. Factory Lamborghini driver, Phil Keen was drafted in for Sunday’s action and helped Dhillon to secure second in race 4 after Dhillon struggled driving solo on Saturday.
It was also a solid weekend for Grahame Tilley and Will Tregurtha in the Tecserv / TripleM Nissan GT-R GT3. They would claim two podium placings over the course of the weekend with Tilley / Tregurtha finishing second in race 2 and Tilley finishing third in race 3. Race 4 saw Tregurtha all over the gearbox of the FF Corse Ferrari but despite his best efforts and the fastest lap less than 0.1-seconds away from the Nearys, he couldn’t find a way past and had to settle for fourth just 1.1-seconds behind.
This was an impressive effort considering the car was carrying gearbox issues as explained by Tregurtha. “Basically we have a problem with the gearbox meaning that we can only shift up above 75% throttle. As the car isn’t the best on traction, this really hampers corner exit speed as an early upshift risks blowing up the box entirely”.
The aforementioned FF Corse Ferrari was an invitational entry to Silverstone. Piloted by Ferrari Challenge racer Laurent de Meeus and Jamie Stanley, they clocked up three third-place finishes including an impressive drive to fend off a charging will Tregurtha. An impressive feat for the car’s series debut.
There were only two entries for GTO at Silverstone. Richard Chamberlain having taken some time away from the series to focus on improving his Porsche 935 to further boost its performance. Therefore that left RAW Motorsport and SB Race Engineering to duke it out around the home of British Motorsport.
RAW brought along a new car (still a Radical RXC GT3) to this event sporting a striking red livery. Drivers Steve Burgess / Ben Dimmack took to the new car like a duck to water, winning three from four races in class albeit with a little bit of luck on their side. The SB Race Engineering Brabham would start all four races from the pitlane giving the Radical a huge advantage in the 40+ car field.
Paul Bailey would once again be piloting the Brabham BT62 and almost secured a class win in race 1 finishing just one place behind the Radical. It almost certainly would have been a different story had the Abba Mercedes not have turned in on the Brabham into Copse causing Bailey to spin in front of the entire field.
Race 2 would be the only time the Radical was headed as a mid-race safety car for an incident in GTB bunched up the field after the mandatory pitstops and allowed pro-driver, Ross Wylie to chase down Sam Neary in the Abba Mercedes for the overall win. With just 10-minutes remaining he lunged up the inside of Stowe but Neary was having none of it and sent it right back into Vale, forcing the Brabham onto the kerbs to avoid contact.
Next time by, Wylie used his experience to make the same move and this time keep the Mercedes behind him. From then on it was an easy run to the flag to claim the first outright win for the Brabham in GT Cup history.
Sunday saw the Radical win both races as a chaotic first lap saw race 3 red-flagged and then restarted with just 20-minutes rather than the full 25. This gave Bailey less time to catch up and the Radical was on form, even taking the lead at one point from the Abba Mercedes.
Race 4 saw the Brabham retire at the halfway stage leaving the way clear for Burgess / Dimmack to coax the Radical home to another class victory. They now sit just 15-points behind the Brabham in the GTO class standings.
GTC saw an influx in entries for Silverstone and for the first time in 2021, there were four different class winners from the four races over the weekend.
The first of these was Kan-Yan Racing and their Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo piloted by Andie Stokoe / James Swift. Winning by 12.4-seconds over 2019 championship runner-up, James Webb, and Laki Christoforou came home in third before withdrawing from the weekend.
Chris Kemp / Stuart Hall yet again claimed an endurance victory with a stunning last-lap pass over the Ferrari 488 of Roy Millington / Benny Simonsen (brother of the late Allan Simonsen). The Stanbridge duo overcame a drive-through penalty in their Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo to overhaul their rivals having set lap times in the region of 2.5-seconds faster than the Ferrari.
James Webb handed over to brother Tom for Sunday’s races, and Tom would go one better than James in race 3, taking victory after fending off the Topcats Lamborghini in the early stages before a spin for Warren Gilbert allowed Webb to cruise home and take his first-class win since Donington in 2020. Gilbert would recover to finish second albeit 9.5-seconds down on the older spec car ahead.
In race 4 however, it was Topcats who went one better. Continuing their great form throughout the season, they claimed victory over the Millington / Simonsen Ferrari by 5.5-seconds despite a 5-second time penalty for exceeding track limits. As a result, they maintain their class lead over Kemp / Hall by a considerable margin of 111 points.
Like with GTC, GTB also saw new entries for Silverstone with familiar faces making a welcome return to the series.
It would be one of these new entries that would claim victory for race 1 with the Valluga Porsche of Jan Klingenberg / Ian Humphris as they fought off the Team HARD Porsche of Sam Randon / Richard Marsh and the sister car of Nick Phelps.
Race 2 would mark the end of the weekend for the Team HARD Porsche. An early safety car restart saw Marsh lose control of the car and slam into the inside wall exiting Club corner. Ultimately, this caused terminal damage to the Porsche and it was withdrawn from the weekend, a huge blow to their title chances.
The resulting safety car bunched the pack up right as the pit window was ongoing, allowing the JMH Automotive Porsche of Sean Winder / Adam Wilcox to close up and snatch victory by a whopping 50-seconds from the Saxon Motorsport BMW M1 of Tom Barrow. Nick Phelps rounded out the top three in his Porsche.
Not content with two third-place finishes, Phelps was on a mission come Sunday. Winning both races and this time without the aid of a pro sitting alongside him. Not only this but a winning margin of over a minute in race 4, both pole positions, and both fastest laps truly was a remarkable achievement. This success has put him at the head of the GTB points table, 10 ahead of the Randon / Marsh Porsche who will look to make amends at Donington next time out.
For the second time in 2021, GTH saw four different winners from the four races. Race 1 looked like it would go the way of Josh Jackson in the JMH by Orange McLaren 570s but he was overhauled by Porsche Sprint Challenge GB racers, Alex Malykhin / James Dorlin who took the win for Paddock Motorsport. With the top three separated by just 0.5-seconds, it was set to be a thrilling weekend in GTH.
Race 2 continued this trend as Greystone GT took their second win of the season courtesy of Richard Mason / Jon Lancaster. But it was no easy feat for them as Callum MacLeod in the Balfe McLaren 570s was charging up to them but could not find a way past. Coming home short by just 0.032-seconds in a thrilling end to the race.
Morgan Tillbrook / Marcus Clutton rounded off the podium with consistency being their key. Managing to stay out of trouble and claim two podiums on Saturday before being caught in the melee of race 3.
The Balfe McLaren also suffered a similar fate after a spectacular incident where Mike Price flew over the top of Iain Campbell’s Greystone McLaren eliminating his car from the rest of the weekend whilst the Greystone car was repaired just in time for race 4.
Josh Jackson would finally take his first win of the weekend after escaping from the squabbling pair of James Guess in the Feathers Motorsport Aston Martin and Tom Rawlings in the other Paddock Motorsport McLaren who finished in that order.
Race 4 was much less chaotic but packed with close racing throughout. Guess and co-driver, Darren Turner held off everything that Jackson and co-driver for the weekend, Michael O’Brien could throw at them. The Aston Martin drivers faced huge pressure all race long but did not crack and even used the Saxon Motorsport car to create a buffer between them and the Orange McLaren behind. Fox Motorsport claimed the final podium position with Tim Docker / Jordan Albert at the wheel of a McLaren 570s GT4.
Simon Orange was once again on top form as he claimed two class victories and a second-place finish. The remaining race saw him upside down, sliding on his roof after contact with the Valluga Porsche Cayman heading through the Maggots and Becketts complex. Fortunately, Simon was perfectly ok and teammate Russ Lindsay even stopped to make sure he was ok.
Orange’s Ginetta was another to only make Saturday’s races as the damage was too severe. So teammate Lindsay and co-driver Patrick Collins decided to give up their car for Sunday’s races to allow Orange to continue on and fight for the overall title once again.
The remaining victories were claimed by the Century Ginetta G55 of Alex Stevenson / James Kellett and Chris Hart / Stephen Walton in the MakeHappenracing Ginetta G55.
GT Cup returns on the 17/18th of September for their second visit to Donington Park. The penultimate round of the championship is set to throw up some fireworks with it all to play for.
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