The penultimate round of the GT Cup Championship saw the McLaren sweep the weekend with entries from Enduro Motorsport and Orange Motorsport sharing the race wins. The races were filled with incidents, threatening weather conditions, and the on-track battles between Enduro McLaren and the Mercedes-AMG of Cook Motorsport.
A four-car pile-up on the formation lap disrupted Saturday’s Sprint race. #23 Iain Campbell’s Greystone GT McLaren suffered brake failure and tangled with Andrey Borodin’s #24 sister entry, John Whitehouse’s #44 Paddock Motorsport McLaren, and Richard Mason’s #22 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, also operated by Greystone GT. These four GT3 entries were seen piled up nose-to-tail at the Old Hairpin. While Borodin and Mason could limp back to the pits, the marshals had to recover the stranded #44 and #23 on track.
The race was, therefore, red-flagged and was reduced to 15 minutes. When the race finally got underway, Hugo Cook’s #36 Mercedes-AMG GT3 soon led the way and was followed by Morgan Tillbrook’s #66 Enduro Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3. The duo would be battling for the race win for the rest of the weekend.
Cook crossed the finish line first but would quickly receive a 10-second time penalty due to infringement at race start. Tillbrook thus inherited the race win, with Cook settling in second. The #67 Orange Racing McLaren, driven by Simon Orange, took the final podium after a race-long battle with the RAM Racing AMG duo of Ian Loggie and Mike Price. The #9 Top Cats Racing Lamborghini Super Trofeo, shared by Jenson Lunn, and Charlotte Gilbert, won the GTC Class and finished sixth overall.
Saturday’s Pit-Stop race saw the grid decided by the fastest lap times from the Sprint race. Mike Price was able to start at the front row but would quickly drop positions as he spun at the Old hairpin. Elsewhere the #17 Orange Racing McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Patrick Collins spun out and stuck in the gravel and triggered the safety car. Once the race restarted, it was the familiar sight of the Tillbrook-Cook duel in front as the duo kept nose to tail throughout the race’s first half.
The pit-stop window saw multiple GT3 entries go and handed over to the pro drivers. Tillbrook pitted in and handed over to Marcus Clutton while Michael O’Brien took over the Orange Racing McLaren. Near the end of the pit window, Patrick Collins’ McLaren 570s crashed at the Esses, thus prompting the second safety car intervention. After the pitstop with a shorter time penalty, Cook leads, followed by Clutton and O’Brien, but the former couldn’t keep the lead after the restart and was soon passed by both McLarens. Clutton then held on to the won the Pit-stop race with less than two-tenths separating him and O’Brien.
Several entries from the GTH class retired from the race. Aside from Patrick Collins’ McLaren, the #26 Paddock Motorsport McLaren of Tehmur Chohan stopped off track after a puncture early into the race. In GTC, the #9 Top Cats Racing Lamborghini continued its race-winning form and once again finished inside the top 10. The #56 Millington Motorsport Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo shared by Roy Millington and Benny Simonsen retired off-track due to a loose wheel.
The Saturday Sprint race saw Hugo Cook trying more aggressive moves to take the lead from Morgan Tillbrook. At one point, he tried to round the outside at McLeans but ran wide at Coppice, enabling Tillbrook to retake the lead. As he approached back markers, Cook spun out at Melbourne hairpin and beached at the gravel. Safety car deployed to let the marshals retrieve Cook’s stranded Mercedes, while Simon Orange and Iain Campbell came up into second and third place, respectively.
With 5 minutes to go, the weather changed with rain on the track, and the wet tarmac caught multiple GT3 entrants off guard as they were on slick tyres. Graham Tilley’s Tecserv Mercedes-AMG crashed out at the Old Hairpin, and Campbell and Orange also spun out around the same corner shortly after. Amid challenging conditions, Morgan Tillbrook hung on and crossed the finish line first. The #44 Paddock Motorsport McLaren of Steve Whitehouse finished in second place, followed by Ian Loggie in the #16 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG.
Several lower-class entries benefitted from the frontrunners’ mishaps. The GTC-winning Team Webb Lamborghini finished fourth overall, followed by the #39 Track Focused Mercedes-AMG GT4, which won the GTH Class.
Sunday’s pit-stop grid was decided by the fastest lap times from the Sprint race. Morgan Tillbrook and Hugo Cook again shared the front row, followed by Simon Orange, Ian Loggie, and Iain Campbell. 10 minutes into the race, Tillbrook was passed by Cook and Orange, respectively, with the latter overtaking the Enduro McLaren at the Esses. However, Cook soon suffered a left rear puncture and fell out of the lead lap. Orange thus inherited the race lead, with Tillbrook in second place.
The GT3 Pit window opened with 20 minutes to go, with most of the entries handed over to pro Drivers. After the pitstop, Michael O’Brien leads in the Orange Racing McLaren, followed by Phil Keen in the #16 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG and Marcus Clutton’s Enduro McLaren. Elsewhere, Hugo Cook’s bad luck continues as he retired the car with less than 10 minutes to go.
O’Brien remained in control and won the Sunday pit-stop race, 3 seconds ahead of Phil Keen. Clutton crossed the line in third, topping off a near-perfect weekend for Enduro Motorsport. The #22 Greystone GT Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, shared by Richard Mason and Jon Lancaster, scored their best weekend finish with seventh overall. In GTC, the #13 Team Webb Lamborghini continued its winning form and finished ninth overall, followed by the #56 Millington Motorsport Ferrari, completing the top 10.
The GT Cup Championship final round takes place at Snetterton on 8-9 October.
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