GT Cup commenced its 2022 campaign in fine fashion with four hugely competitive races at a sunny Donington Park. In a feat matched by last season’s second Donington Park meeting, four different driver pairings would taste outright victory in what is set to be a stellar season ahead.
10 entries in GT3 along with the sheer calibre of the entries meant there was no clear favourite heading into the opening round.
Ian Loggie did his best to change that by winning the first pole position of the year and coupled it with a dominant victory in Saturday’s sprint race. He very nearly coupled it up with an Endurance race victory but a small mistake heading into Coppice led to a trip through the gravel costing not only a win but also a podium.
He was about to make up for this in Sunday’s sprint race but a late-race charge from the Team Orange McLaren 720s GT3 of Simon Orange led to a last lap kerfuffle at the Old Hairpin. Loggie got baulked by backmarkers and Orange pulled off an audacious manoeuvre around the outside of Starkey’s (with two wheels in the grass for good measure). Unfortunately for Loggie, this was the final lap and he had to settle for second.
A fourth place in the final race leaves him sixth in the overall points standings and second in GT3.
Simon Orange made his GT3 debut at the weekend but you wouldn’t have thought it. Podium finishes in all four races leave him and co-driver, Michael O’Brien in the GT3 points lead and fourth overall.
His aforementioned overtake on Loggie leading to victory already proved he is not afraid to get stuck in and reclaim his 2020 championship title.
Enduro Motorsport returned for a full-season campaign with Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton once again piloting the bright Orange McLaren 720s GT3. Their weekend couldn’t have gone much better on Saturday with second in the sprint race and an overall victory thanks to Loggie’s misfortune in the endurance.
Sunday however didn’t quite go the same way. A fourth place in the sprint wasn’t disastrous but an eighth place in the endurance was. A stop/go penalty for a short pitstop with just 6-minutes remaining well and truly put them out of contention and left them in the lower end of the top ten.
The final race victors were Greystone GT with Iain Campbell and Olli Webb claiming their first-class and overall victory within GT Cup. An impressive performance on Campbell’s GT3 race debut. This coupled with a third place in Sunday’s sprint rounded off a pretty good weekend for the popular track day promotors.
Reigning champions Team Abba didn’t have things their own way this time around. A shattered brake disc on the first lap of Saturday practice put them on the back foot and caused them to miss qualifying.
They recovered in the final race to take an unlikely second place after penalties for the Enduro McLaren and Tecserv Mercedes pushed them out of the running.
RAM Racing’s second entry of Mike Price and Callum MacLeod found themselves on the podium in Saturday’s endurance race before being pinballed into the barriers at the start of the sprint race the following day.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for group GTO. Richard Chamberlain withdrew his Porsche 935 before the meeting even began to further improve the car for his assault later this season.
That left three runners for GTO all of whom finished in the exact same positions for each race.
RAW Motorsport started where they left off with four class victories and are now the overall championship leaders on 105 points, just 10 clear of Lucky Khera’s Ferrari.
The Radical RXC piloted once again by Radical experts, Ben Dimmack and Steve Burgess ran faultlessly and mixed it with the GT3 runners, even claiming an outright podium in Saturday’s sprint race.
SB Race Engineering brought back the extremely rare McLaren 12C GT3 Can-Am into the fray and steadily improved compared to 2021. A quartet of second places shows improved consistency even finishing one position behind the Radical in Saturday’s endurance race.
The third entrant was the MARC Gen II however a plethora of mechanical issues including gear selection troubles resigned it to the rear of the field as the team used the track time as a test session for the Australian monster.
Six cars from four different manufacturers populated the GTC grid at Donington with Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ginetta all featuring.
The ever-busy Lucky Khera marked his return to the series in fine form by dominating the weekend’s action. Having enlisted the services of David MacDonald, the pair took the chequered flag first in three of the four races.
Third place in Sunday’s endurance race prevented them from a clean sweep but a healthy 31-point class lead shouldn’t worry them this early in the season.
This form also slots them second in the overall points standings just 10 points behind the leading Radical already proving themselves as early title favourites.
The remaining victory was taken perhaps surprisingly by the FF Corse Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo of Roy Millington and Benny Simonsen. Electrical gremlins on Saturday meant they made it only to the end of the pitlane in practice before cutting out.
Topcats Racing unveiled a second Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo sporting a striking new livery just a week prior to the commencement of the season. However, it was the car of Warren Gilbert and Jensen Lunn who led the way with three podium places as they look to go one better and clinch the outright title.
Mechanical issues in Saturday’s endurance race forced the car into an unusual retirement whilst the sister car struggled for pace all weekend long.
The final podium placings went the way of Team Webb and Team HARD. Tom and James Webb shared the bright blue Huracan Super Trofeo in what was a consistent performance all weekend long whilst Chris Murphy and James Taylor set about familiarizing themselves with the Porsche 911 Cup Car having not driven the car prior to the test day on Thursday.
16 GT4 cars aimed to head the pack in what is set to be an extraordinarily competitive group.
This proved to be correct as three different driver pairings won the group over the weekend.
The only double victor was Makehappen Racing and their brand new Mercedes AMG GT4. Chris Hart and Stephen Walton fended off the charging youngster, James Wallis in his Valluga Porsche Cayman to win Saturday’s sprint.
It looked as if Wallis and his co-driver, Sam Maher-Loughnan would get their revenge in Sunday’s endurance race but a safety car at the pit window scuppered their efforts due to their success penalty. The beneficiary of this just happened to be the Mercedes which is ironic as the safety car was caused by an incident involving the sister car of Jon Currie.
Not only did they secure two victories but also a third place in Sunday’s sprint race. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing as contact on the opening lap in Saturday’s endurance race put them out of the race.
Wallis and Maher-Loughnan would get that victory as their sheer pace was no match for second-placed Fox Motorsport and their McLaren 570s GT4. The success penalty from this victory would be what cost them in Sunday’s endurance race.
The final victors were the other Mercedes team of Track Focused who comfortably won Sunday’s sprint race with former MX5 racer, Darren Kell at the wheel. A podium in the following endurance race sealed a successful first weekend for the father-son pairing in GT Cup.
Currently, the three winners from Donington make up the top three in GTH points with Walton and Hart leading from Wallis and Maher-Loughnan and the Kell duo.
The remaining class podiums were claimed by a variety of driver pairings. Orange Racing secured third in Saturday’s sprint race with a pairing of Russ Lindsay and Patrick Collins coming together to follow in 2021 class champion, Josh Jackson’s footsteps.
Another Valluga Racing Cayman of Chris Bates and Darren Burke finished third in both of the endurance races proving the relatively young outfit can be classed as early favourites.
GT Cup returns on the 30th of April at Brands Hatch in what is set to be the biggest weekend in the history of the championship. Acting as a support championship to GT World Challenge Europe, 30,000-fans are expected to cheer on former MotoGP world champion, Valentino Rossi.
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