The 2021 GT Cup season finale took place at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk in mixed conditions over the course of the weekend. After a dominant performance all season long, Team Abba Racing’s Sam / Richard Neary claimed the outright GT Cup title after a season-long battle with Topcats Racing driver, Warren Gilbert coming just short in second place.
After a dry qualifying, the expected rain arrived just in time for the start of Saturday’s sprint race.
Enduro Motorsport resumed their GT3 effort after their successful run at Donington Park. They kicked off with a class victory in Saturday’s sprint race after a late-race mistake from Scott Sports John Dhillon in the intensifying rain. Just 0.4-seconds separated the pair at the flag in what looked like it was going to be a comfortable win for the Lamborghini driver.
Saturday’s endurance race saw a plethora of safety car interruptions due to the worsening conditions from the earlier race. The race looked to be going the way of Richard Neary as he led away but a combination of pitting at the wrong time and a 33-second time penalty for a short pitstop cost Abba a likely victory.
Having timed their pitstop to near perfection, Ultimate Speed emerged from the pit window in the lead of class and third overall. This was down to the safety car being scrambled during the pit window and benefitting the early stoppers. The race would then be red-flagged with 20-minutes still remaining leaving Ultimate Speed still in the class lead and they would take their first class victory of the season.
Sunday saw much better weather with the sun making an appearance from midday just in time for the sprint race. This time Sam Neary took the wheel of the Abba Mercedes and despite losing the lead off the line to the RAW Motorsport Radical RXC, he would quickly regain the lost position and cruised to another dominant victory, lapping nearly 2-seconds quicker than his nearest rival.
The final endurance race of the weekend once again looked like it would go to the Neary’s but Tillbrook consistently picked up his pace and managed to catch and pass Neary who let the McLaren go as he was not in contention to score any points. When Marcus Clutton took over, he brought the car home for its second-class victory of the weekend.
Sam Neary brought the Mercedes home in a distant second with the championship clearly playing on his mind. As the leading McLaren was classed as an invitational entry, second would give Abba maximum points and therefore the title along with it. And this is exactly what happened as they brought the stealth black Mercedes home to clinch the first title for Team Abba.
It was a great weekend for RAW Motorsport who picked up three of the four class victories on offer.
Saturday’s sprint race saw them unchallenged and even fighting amongst the GT3 machinery of John Dhillon and Morgan Tillbrook. A great drive from Steve Burgess in the Radical left him second in the closing stages but a mistake from Dhillon ahead closed the gap. The resulting drag race to the line saw the Radical take another overall victory with a winning margin of just 0.240-seconds.
The truncated endurance race on Saturday left strategy as the key to victory. SB Race Engineering pulled off the perfect strategy by pitting at the earliest possible opportunity and by the time the rest of the field had pitted, they were up to second overall and first in class. A position they would hold when the red flag was deployed, ending the race. An impressive feat considering Paul Bailey had never driven the car in the rain before.
Sunday saw normal service resumed as the Radical swept both races with Burgess driving solo. Richard Chamberlain followed home in second having also secured two-second place finishes over the course of Saturday’s running.
Despite the late-season form for the Radical pairing, it was the SB Race Engineering pair of Paul Bailey and Ross Wylie who clinched the class title despite competing in three different cars over the season.
Topcats Racing entered the weekend as the closest rival to the all-conquering Team Abba Mercedes. Warren Gilbert would once again drive solo as teammate, Jensen Lunn recovered from a recent surgery.
Two class victories and a further two podiums couldn’t quite clinch the overall title for Warren in an impressive first season after switching to the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo. He did however manage to clinch the GTC class title as consolidation to a hugely impressive season.
The remaining class victories were taken by Roy Millington / Benny Simonsen in the Millington Motorsport Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo and Chris Kemp / Stuart Hall in the Stanbridge Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo.
With Team HARD out of the picture, Nick Phelps held a commanding advantage in GTB heading into the final round.
Three class victories and a second-place were more than enough to clinch the class title by 99-points from Charlotte Gilbert in the Topcats Marcos Mantis.
Considering this is Phelps’s first season racing cars, to win the class title and finish fourth in the overall championship is no easy feat.
The remaining victory was taken by Charlotte Gilbert during Saturday’s endurance race, in an incredible strategy call by the team. Leaving her pitstop to the last possible moment meant that she was leading overall before her stop. The red flag was displayed a lap later meaning that the results were taken from the lap prior which also meant that Gilbert was leading at the time and claimed her first overall victory in GT Cup.
With the class title already wrapped up, Josh Jackson / Michael O’Brien set about adding to their collection of victories collected over the season.
Saturday didn’t quite go to plan with a retirement in the sprint race and seventh place in the jumbled endurance race. However, they fought back with a vengeance on Sunday and snatched the victory from Tom Rawlings in the sprint which they coupled with a dominant display in the endurance race to cap off a successful season.
Moh Ritson benefitted from Jackson’s misfortune as he would win Saturday’s sprint race in the tricky conditions. This victory would help him and co-driver, Tom Rawlings secure second place in the GTH standings in what was their first season in the McLaren 570s GT4 and the first season for their team, Paddock Motorsport.
Things would get even better for Paddock in the crazy endurance race as former series champions, Steve Ruston / John Whitehouse claimed their first victory of the season. The AM/AM pairing getting the better of the pro drivers in the treacherous conditions.
GTA was the most hotly contested class at Snetterton seeing four different winners from the four races.
Chris Hart excelled in the greasy conditions for Saturday’s sprint race finishing 30-seconds clear of nearest class rival, Simon Orange. In fact, he was only 1.1-seconds behind the GTB Porsche 911 of Nick Phelps and even beat the Topcats Lamborghini in class GTC. Russ Lindsay / Patrick Collins would claim the chaotic endurance race later in the day.
Sunday marked a special occasion for Fox Motorsport’s James Townsend. Helped by the first lap carnage which took out Orange and MakeHappen Racing’s Stephen Walton, he brought home his and the team’s first victory of the season.
Simon Orange bounced back after a tough weekend to win Sunday’s endurance race and cap off what was a successful first season with his own team. He also claimed the GTA title in the process.
GT Cup returns in 2022 with a relatively unchanged calendar. Round 1 will take place at Donington Park on 9/10th April.
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