GT Cup headed to Snetterton for the second time in 2022. This time the Norfolk circuit would form the championship finale for what has been an intensely competitive season of GT action.
Simon Orange and co-driver, Michael O’Brien headed into the event with a sizeable points lead over second-placed Topcats Racing and the ever-competitive Jensen Lunn. However, as Topcats were the only GTC car running this weekend, fewer points were awarded for victory, diminishing their title chances before the weekend had even started.
A conservative approach from Orange meant he stayed out of trouble and was able to clinch the overall driver’s title after Saturday’s action had been completed, becoming the first two-time GT Cup champion in the series’ history.
The only major GT3 change for Snetterton was the absence of Grahame Tilley who was unable to get his Mercedes AMG GT3 repaired in time after his shunt last time out. However, he would still be seen competing, this time in GTB.
Race 1 saw a chaotic set of opening laps. Fluid was dropped onto the circuit between the formation lap and the start of lap two leading to a plethora of ice skating moments from the GT3 field.
Hugo Cook led away from pole in his Mercedes AMG GT3 with Mike Price in the RAM Racing Mercedes close behind. Albeit not for long as Morgan Tillbrook in the Enduro McLaren 720s GT3 gave him a slight tap into Agostini, spinning the green Mercedes to the back of the field.
Cook meanwhile would pull off exiting Palmer the following lap gifting the lead to Tillbrook who promptly ran off the track at the Bombhole, narrowly avoiding Simon Orange as he rejoined.
Meanwhile, Ian Loggie who was now second, suffered a severe incident as his car turned sharp right on the brakes into Agostini, smashing into the barriers and ending his day early. Richard Mason in the Greystone Lamborghini Huracan GT3 had exactly the same incident just moments later with both hitting a patch of the fluid.
The safety car was inevitably deployed to clean up the track and at least give the drivers a fighting chance on the new Snetterton ice rink.
From then on, Tillbrook led to the flag and clinched what he thought was his first victory of the day. However, a three-place post-race penalty for tapping Price into a spin would drop him back, therefore, giving the win to Orange, further bolstering his title chances. Iain Campbell clinched second in his Greystone McLaren whilst Price recovered well to take third.
Tillbrook got his redemption in an incident-free Race 2. He and co-driver Marcus Clutton clinched victory by 5-seconds over the RAM Racing Mercedes of Price and Callum MacLeod with Hugo Cook back in third.
Cook initially led away from pole and held his advantage until the pitstop window where it would all unravel for the teenager. Despite emerging back in the lead, he pitted just outside of the mandatory window and copped himself a drive-through penalty, dropping him back to third, gifting the lead to Marcus Clutton in the Enduro McLaren which he would keep to the flag.
Cook meanwhile would make amends on Sunday as both races went the way of the Mercedes driver. However, he had to fight for it during Sunday’s sprint race.
Cook outbraked himself into Agostini at the start, leaving the way clear for Morgan Tillbrook to sneak through on the inside. From then on, Cook saw the red mist and commenced his comeback darting left and right, desperate to force the McLaren into a mistake.
On the penultimate lap, Tillbrook found himself baulked by a backmarker heading into Murrays. Cook didn’t need to be asked twice and swooped past both cars to build a 3.1-second lead in just a solitary lap. Tillbrook managed to recover to second whilst Ian Loggies hastily rebuilt Mercedes took third.
The final race of the weekend saw Cook remain unchallenged for the entire 50-minute duration. Orange / O’Brien would be his closest challengers as they rounded out their championship-winning campaign in style with a second-place finish. Tillbrook / Clutton once again stood on the podium, this time in third after a lonely race.
An impressive first season in GT3 machinery left Simon Orange with the overall and Group GT3 titles along with co-driver Michael O’Brien. This leaves them in good shape before Orange makes his British GT debut at the Donington Decider this weekend.
Just the one car committed to competing at Snetterton with the vivaciously liveried Topcats Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo taking the main stage. Their title chances remained alive in both the overall standings and the group standings but being the sole runner, 15 points would be awarded for victory compared to the usual 25.
By finishing all four races, they clinched the victory points but would miss out on the overall title to the Orange Racing McLaren. However, the GTC title would go their way with a 106-point advantage over the Lucky Khera / David MacDonald-driven Racelab Lamborghini Huracan.
GTB saw two entries for Snetterton. Chris Murphy once again brought his fire-spitting BMW out to play whilst David Frankland continued in the category with his Audi R8 GT4. This time Frankland had a co-driver in none other than Grahame Tilley who would join in for Saturday’s endurance race.
Murphy would clinch all four victories having seemingly fixed the reliability issues that plagued the BMW earlier in the season. Andy Schultz joined in for Sunday’s action whilst the 24/7 Racing Audi R8 only appeared for Saturday’s running.
The ever-competitive GTH saw just one repeat winner across the four races.
After clinching his first-ever GT Cup victory at Snetterton earlier in the season, Will Dendy repeated his success by winning Saturday’s sprint race after a late race tussle with James Wallis in the Valluga Porsche Cayman 718 Clubsport. The top three were separated by just 2-seconds with Mark Hopton in the Greystone GT McLaren 570s GT4 a second behind in third.
Wallis and teammate Sam Maher-Loughnann dominated Saturday’s Endurance race with a victory margin of 30-seconds from Phillip Carter / Michael Broadhurst in the sister Greystone GT McLaren GT4. Chris Hart / Stephen Walton in their Makehappen Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 clinched another class podium in what has been a successful season for the former FunCup runners.
James Kell took control of the Track Focused Mercedes AMG GT4 on Sunday and didn’t look back once the race got underway. The only nervy moment being when Hugo Cook lunged up the inside at Wilson on the final lap and made contact with Kell.
However, further back, Tom Roche in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren put on an overtaking masterclass as he fought his way from 19th on the grid. An impressive drive from the experienced MX5 runner-up saw him utilise his circuit knowledge and pass Tim Creswick into Riches having set up the move through the fast Coram section. Creswick would hold on to third in the Parr Motorsport Porsche Cayman.
The final race of the weekend would be an eventful one for the group. Action all the way through left us guessing right until the end.
Ultimately it was Will Dendy who brought the Orange Racing McLaren 570 GT4 home in first after a late race move on Creswick who himself was having one of his best weekends of the season. Paddock Motorsport battled right to the flag with Roche getting the better of teammate Adam Hatfield to take third.
Despite finishing down in 6th position Valluga Motorsport clinched the Group GTH title over the Makehappen Mercedes of Walton / Hart by 117-points.
GTA also saw a solitary entry for Snetterton. Topcats Racing continued to field their Ginetta G55 Supercup car following the scary accident at Silverstone for the sister Lamborghini.
Once again, Charlotte Birch / Sam Randon performed amongst the GTH machinery with lap times to even match some of the slower GT3 machinery on track.
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