GT Cup headed to Snetterton for the first of two visits to the Norfolk circuit. Much like last June, the sun was shining and the teams were in high spirits ahead of Round 3 of the season.
However, pre-event testing during the week prior saw two entrants with damaged cars. G-Cat Racing’s Shamus Jennings had a significant off during Tuesday’s test day whilst the Fox Motorsport McLaren being driven by Tim Docker had a substantial off at Riches leaving him with a fractured vertebra.
Fortunately, the weekend itself was relatively clean with no appearances from the safety car throughout the four races.
The ever-competitive GT3 group didn’t disappoint. Four group winners from the four races just proves how strong the group really is.
Race one saw a lights to flag victory by Morgan Tillbrook in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720s GT3. Luckily for Tillbrook he avoided the chaos at the Wilson hairpin on lap one and cruised to an unchallenged victory by a whopping 16.2 seconds.
The aforementioned chaos ultimately ended the race for two cars and left one with a lot of work to do. Iain Campbell in the Greystone GT McLaren was forced onto the grass in the braking zone causing his car to slide back onto the track and into the side of Ian Loggie’s RAM Racing Mercedes AMG GT3. This in turn forced John Dhillon wide in his Lamborghini Huracan and delayed his progress significantly.
The remainder of the race saw a great battle between Simon Orange in the Orange Racing McLaren and Mike Price in the remaining RAM Racing Mercedes. Orange clinched second setting the fastest lap of the race in the process whilst Price had to settle for third.
Race two may look like an easy lights to flag victory for Orange and co-driver Michael O’Brien but that couldn’t be further from the truth. An intense battle formed right from the off with Tillbrook chasing down Orange. 15 minutes elapsed before the Enduro car made the move and powered ahead.
However, with the pit window opening shortly after and Tillbrook’s success penalty from winning the opening race, co-driver Marcus Clutton emerged behind O’Brien but this time it was O’Brien who had the pace and took victory by 12.4 seconds from Clutton.
Ian Loggie came home third after starting at the rear of the field following the mishap that befell him in the earlier race.
Race three finally gave Loggie the redemption he was looking for. He was never headed en route to victory which kept him out of trouble and away from the marauding pack behind. Orange and Tillbrook meanwhile were banging wheels heading up towards Hamilton as they desperately tried to outpace one another. It was Orange who kept ahead and put up a stout defence to keep the OnlyFans McLaren behind. Just 0.4-seconds separated them at the flag.
The final race of the weekend saw action throughout as pole sitter Ian Loggie was jumped by the RAW Motorsport Radical RXC which formed a bottleneck as the faster GT3 machinery desperately tried to push through.
Unfortunately, pushing got Orange into a bit of trouble with the stewards as an optimistic move at Agostini resulted in a stop-go penalty for avoidable contact.
Tillbrook meanwhile managed to squeeze past the prototype-looking machine and set about distancing himself from the field to mitigate his pitstop success penalty from race three.
It wasn’t quite enough as Clutton emerged in fourth having taken over the OnlyFans machine.
Steve Ruston / John Whitehouse had endured a quiet season up to this point but fortune led them to emerge from the pits in the overall lead. Unfortunately for them, Callum Macleod had taken over from Mike Price in the bright green RAM Racing car and pulled an audacious manoeuvre around the outside of Riches to take the lead.
From then on he was unstoppable and even managed to shatter Phil Keen’s British GT race lap record by a whopping 1.5 seconds.
Clutton continued his consistent run to reach second whilst Loggie recovered well to round out the podium in a great day for RAM Racing.
Brands Hatch winner, John Dhillon suffered a dramatic weekend in which he was disqualified from all results after an array of incidents. He will hope to bounce back at Oulton Park in just under a month’s time to get his season back on track.
Orange / O’Brien meanwhile now lead the group GT3 points standings by just 4-points from Tillbrook / Clutton whilst sitting second in the overall standings just 9-points behind the leading Valluga Porsche.
Two entries once again ran at Snetterton. The RAW Motorsport Radical RXC returned to stamp its authority on group GTO meanwhile Richard Chamberlain made his first appearance of the season in his bright orange Porsche 935.
Unfortunately, he would only complete the first race of the weekend before a broken exhaust curtailed his running for the remainder of the weekend.
Despite this, he did come out on top in race one with a great performance to keep up with the much more modern GT3 machinery. Finishing fourth overall just 3.1-seconds behind an overall podium spot.
This left the Radical to clean up the remaining races and even lead race four for an extended period before the nimbler GT3 machinery found its way past.
It wasn’t without trouble however as a spin at Nelson on the final lap of race three nearly curtailed their weekend and cost Steve Burgess an overall podium finish.
Despite that late drama, Burgess and co-driver, Ben Dimmack sit third in the overall points standings, level peggings with the Orange Racing McLaren of Orange / O’Brien.
GTC saw two different winners across the weekend with each pairing sweeping one race day apiece.
Saturday was a day for Topcats as Warren Gilbert / Jensen Lunn swept the day’s races with Charlotte Gilbert / Charlotte Birch also scoring a double podium. Not only this but race one gave the team their first one-two finish in GT Cup, a great accomplishment.
Sunday however marked the return of Lucky Khera / David MacDonald. A dismal Saturday left the Ferrari pairing with 0 points and a broken Ferrari after suffering more brake problems.
Determined as ever, they powered into Sunday and decimated their competition scoring two wins in dominant fashion. This form keeps their championship hopes firmly alive as the duo sits fifth overall, 13 points behind the leading Valluga Porsche and maintains a 16-point class lead over Gilbert / Lunn.
The ultra-competitive group GTH proved its worth once again as four different driver pairings tasted victory across the course of the weekend.
Race one gave Will Dendy his first victory of the season in the Orange Racing McLaren 570s GT4. Grabbing the lead early, he didn’t look back and cruised to a 4.1-second margin of victory ahead of the ever-rapid Valluga Motorsport Porsche. MakeHappen Racing rounded out the top three after being displaced by Valluga in the closing stages.
Race 2 saw total domination from the Valluga pairing of James Wallis / Sam Maher-Loughnan as they sought to extend their group points advantage. MakeHappen Racing clinched second courtesy of Jon Currie who managed to outpace title contending teammates Chris Hart / Stephen Walton who struggled to fifth place.
Fortunately, race three went much better for the Mercedes duo as they clinched victory by a narrow 3-seconds. It didn’t quite go all their way however as Adam Hatfield in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren surged into the lead and looked set to give the team their first victory of the season prior to a mechanical failure which ended his chances early.
Hart capitalized on Paddock’s pain to take an ever-important victory ahead of close rival Wallis in the Valluga Porsche. Meanwhile, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the popular Paddock team. Tehmur Chohan brought his car home in third just 1.8-seconds behind Hart.
He would keep up this momentum in the final race of the weekend as he and co-driver Moh Ritson (who was subbing in for Tom Roche) crossed the line first on the road. Unfortunately for them, Chohan accumulated a 5-second track limits penalty during his stint which ultimately handed the win to the sister car of Kavi Jundu / Adam Hatfield.
Heartbreak was destined for this car as post-race scrutineering revealed a technical infringement which led to a disqualification. So despite the penalty, Chohan / Ritson eventually got the chance to celebrate as winners with Greystone GT scoring another podium with second and erstwhile race leaders Valluga sealed third.
In what was another successful weekend for the Wallis / Maher-Loughnan Porsche, they now lead the overall standings just 9-points clear of the Orange Racing McLaren of Orange / O’Brien.
This also means they have a comfortable lead in group GTH with a 78-point margin over the Hart / Walton Mercedes.
GT Cup returns on the 9th of July at Cheshire’s Oulton Park. A one-day meeting that is set to feature two 50-minute endurance races on the formidable tight and twisty circuit.
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