After a thoroughly competitive 2022 season, GT Cup returns this weekend to kickstart their 2023 season. Once again at Donington Park, 29 cars are set to take to the grid in what is set to be the most competitive season yet.
For a closer look at the new cars, check out our pre-season test gallery also from Donington Park.
The calendar features a single change from last year which now means Brands Hatch is a standalone event with GT Cup headlining the bill. The format has also been changed slightly with practice and group qualifying now being increased from 10 minutes up to 15 with both the 25-minute sprint and 50-minute endurance races remaining the same. Oulton Park once again features a one-day race meeting due to the strict noise restrictions at the Cheshire venue.
Last season saw a big uptake in GT3 entries and 2023 is no different. Nine cars are currently set to take to the grid with reigning champion Simon Orange included in the fray.
Orange himself will once again pilot the Orange Racing McLaren 720s GT3, this time in Evo guise but with a new co-driver alongside him. GTH race winner Tom Roche moves up from the 570s GT4 to the GT3 machine for the first time.
Also moving up from GTH are the reigning group champions James Wallis and Sam Maher-Loughnann. They will compete in the Drivetac by Track Focused Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the aim of snatching away the title from the Team Orange McLaren.
Sam in particular is ready and raring to go: “It’s great to be back with GT Cup. Although we’re not defending our title, we are coming back with that mindset. GT3 is a natural progression for James and myself, we are looking to stamp our names on another title.”
With Drivetac running the only Mercedes in GT3, McLaren has secured the most entries with five cars competing, including the Orange and Roche pairing.
Ones to look out for are British GT race winners Enduro Motorsport with their ever-effective duo of Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton aiming for overall glory. Also utilising the new Evo package for their 720s GT3, their already impressive pace from last season will be tough to match.
Another pairing with extreme speed is Race Lab’s Lucky Khera and Euan Hankey. Having also announced a British GT programme earlier in the year, they will be keen to get up to speed quickly to prove they are a serious threat for the GT Cup title. Khera himself has taken numerous group victories, most recently in GTC last season.
In a surprise announcement, multiple race winner Ian Loggie will compete at Donington in the 7TSIX McLaren. The Mercedes man faces a steep learning curve switching to the mid-engined machine but his experience and sheer determination puts him in good stead ahead of this weekend. GTWC Europe Silver Cup runner Casper Stevenson will join Loggie as his co-driver for the weekend’s activities.
The final McLaren pairing comes in the shape of the returning Greystone GT with Andrey Borodin and Ed Pead once again teaming up in their blue McLaren. They did struggle during the end of last season but an extensive testing program over the winter has been sure to iron out any bumps that formed.
Continuing with Greystone, Rich Mason returns for a full-season campaign after his partial season last year. He brings back the Red Bull-inspired Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo with Jon Lancaster once again forming this formidable pairing.
Unfortunately, both Greystone cars are currently set to miss the Donington opener. The Lamborghini suffered a blown engine in recent testing whilst the McLaren has experienced small teething troubles meaning it’s not quite ready to compete.
After a heavy testing incident last season at Snetterton, G-Cat Racing have fixed up their Porsche and will once again join the grid in one of the rarest GT3 cars in the UK. Their Porsche 991 GT3R has certainly been a fan-favourite not least thanks to the screaming 3.8-litre flat-six engine. Unforeseen circumstances mean the Porsche will be absent from Donington but is expected to be on the grid from Brands Hatch onwards.
The final GT3 entrant for 2023 comes as no surprise. After taking the grid by storm part way through 2022, Hugo Cook is back and ready to mount a title challenge. However, this time he’s brought along two new weapons. The first is his regular co-driver Sacha Kakad. The duo came exceptionally close to winning the 2021 Britcar Endurance Championship title if not for extreme bad luck in the final round.
The second weapon being his new car, the ex-Balfe Motorsport Audi R8 GT3 Evo II. Having already topped the pre-season exclusive test day, they are certainly ones to look out for as the season progresses.
GTO sees an impressive five full season entries for the 2023 season.
Regular GT Cup followers will be pleased to know the now infamous orange Porsche 935 of Richard Chamberlain is back in action. Having fitted a new Xtec engineering engine over the winter, Chamberlain will be hoping for better reliability from the troubled beast.
Another popular entry for this season is the return of the Brabham. Paul Bailey and Ross Wylie have once again brought the Brabham BT62 back to race condition thanks to the help of their new team, Kendall Developments. Run by Luke Kendall, he has years of experience in the game with Rollcentre Racing right up to the Le Mans 24 hours. He has now even taken over running of Rollcentre leaving the Brabham in good hands.
A car which has not been seen in GT Cup since the 2019 season makes a return this year with the National Motorsport Academy. The brutal Mosler MT900 will complete the full season with brothers Morgan and Marcus Short at the wheel. Both have previous experience in Moslers having competed successfully within the CSCC over the past two years. Morgan himself is ready for the challenge ahead:
“This season is a huge step up for both of us having generally raced at club level in our first few years of racing. However, we’re both ecstatic to be given this opportunity by the NMA to compete in a Mosler in such a competitive championship such as GT Cup.
“We aim to push to win the GTO class and, depending on our pace through the season, maybe some overall victories too. It’s a special feeling to be able to race in a Mosler which we have such a strong connection to through our dad, Martin, who has been an amazing mentor to both of us, not only on track but off the track as well.
“Such a step up makes it hard to judge where we will fit in results-wise at the start of the season, but hopefully we can both keep learning and improving and reward the NMA for giving us such an amazing opportunity”.
The final full-season entrant is none other than Grahame Tilley and his Tecserv Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. For 2023 he switches into GTO after having the restrictors removed with the hopes of competing for group and overall victories, He will partner with the newly gold-rated Sennan Fielding who has competed with Grahame previously.
For Donington, Chris Murphy will run the 24/7 Motorsport Audi R8 GT4 which has also had its restrictors removed to allow it to run in GTO.
However, his full-season entry will be within his BMW M3 GTR. He will run Donington in GTO to help pick up class points before switching back to the BMW once it’s ready to race again.
GTC sees six entries for the season with entries from Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini represented.
The sole Ferrari on the grid will be run by Ferrari stalwarts, AF Corse for former GT Cup regulars, Dan and Graham de Zille. The father-son pairing last competed back in 2019 and will once again run a Ferrari 488 Challenge but this time with the evo package fitted.
Next up comes experienced Porsche runners, Team Parker Racing who will be running a 992 Carrera Cup car for Keith Bush. Being the newest GTC car on the grid, it is expected that this could be one to watch. You won’t miss it either in its Martini replica livery.
The second and final Porsche on the grid comes from Team Orange who moves up from GTH. After a successful season last year with their McLaren 570s GT4, Orange has decided to swap the McLaren for a 991.2 Carrera Cup car with an unchanged driver line-up of Russ Lindsay, Patrick Collins and Will Dendy.
Dendy meanwhile is entering his second season of GT racing and with his usual flamboyance, is ready and raring to go:
“I’m super excited to be joining Orange Racing again to race the Porsche, the team is professional but we end up crying with laughter at least twice a weekend! It’ll be great to work with Patrick and Russ as they improve every time they’re in the car and hopefully we can get more wins together!”
The final three entries are all Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo cars with all three versions of the car represented.
The original first-generation car will be run by Woodrow Motorsport and driven by former BMW racer, Matty Evans and the super-experienced Kevin Clarke. The car itself has good pedigree being the former Team Webb car having clocked up a number of GT Cup victories.
The Huracan Super Trofeo Evo belongs to none other than Topcats Racing. Just fielding the one car after last year’s testing crash caused extreme damage to the other. Charlotte Gilbert will once again drive but this time alongside her husband and team co-owner, Warren Gilbert. This marks Warren’s return to racing after that horrific testing accident at Silverstone last season.
The final GTC entrant is the Blackthorn Huracan Super Trofeo Evo2. The angular bare carbon machine will be piloted by Gilbert Yates and David MacDonald. Yates has previous racing experience courtesy of the Ginetta GT Academy back in 2021, taking two victories along the way. MacDonald meanwhile returns after competing with Lucky Khera last season in his Ferrari before switching to the Lamborghini.
Once again, GTH sees a healthy number of entries, mostly coming from McLaren and Mercedes with a sole Aston Martin joining the fray this time around.
After finishing a close second in GTH last season, MakeHappen Racing’s Chris Hart and Stephen Walton return for another crack at the title in their Mercedes AMG GT4. However, this will be no easy feat as the sister car driven once again by Jon Currie has enlisted the services of the most winningest British GT driver in history, Phil Keen.
RAM Racing also returns to the grid but this time with their GT4 Mercedes. 2022 NES 500 TCR class winner, Charles Dawson will partner with former Bentley factory driver, Seb Morris with the hopes of clinching the overall title at the first attempt.
The final Mercedes on the grid comes from 24/7 Motorsport and David Frankland. The GT Cup veteran and former title contender switches his colourful Audi for an equally colourful Mercedes for 2023. He will be joined by Praga racer, Ed Bridle who so very nearly clinched the Praga title back in 2021 after an extremely consistent season.
Now no GT grid would be complete without a helping of GT4 McLarens, and GT Cup has plenty of those.
Firstly comes a new entrant in T4 Motorsport. TCR and Britcar racer, Mark Havers will make the switch to GT4 machinery alongside TCR UK superstar Max Hart. Hart himself has previous experience with rear-wheel drive machinery and is confident of good results:
“I’m super excited to be back in RWD and with my friend and teammate, Mark Havers. For sure we will be learning a lot together this year but I believe if we all work together as a team, we can definitely get some silverware. GT Cup is a competitive championship with an impressive amount of track time so we couldn’t see any other option that would suit us more”.
Greystone GT is back once again but with just one McLaren 570s this time around. Phillip Carter and Michael Broadhurst return for their second season together as they look to build upon their results from last year.
The third McLaren announced is the Inari Motorsports car driven by David Waddington and Adam Wilcox. Wilcox himself is hugely experienced with over ten seasons in British GT and former GT Cup victories to his name.
Finally for McLaren in GTH is the Paddock Motorsport car. A completely new driver line-up for 2023 sees Tim Docker return to racing after his nasty testing crash last year. He will be joined by the rapid Scotsman, Gordie Mutch who is last year’s Praga Cup champion and multiple Ginetta GT5 race winner.
The final GTH entry comes from Feathers Motorsport who return after a year away from the sport. James Guess once again will command the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 but this time former British GT4 champion, Tom Canning will partner him in what is expected to be a very competitive line-up.
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