An eventful GT Cup weekend at Brands Hatch concluded with a new driver pairing at the top of the standings.
Unfortunately, championship leader Grahame Tilley suffered a significant accident in Friday’s testing, writing off his Mercedes-AMG GT3, therefore, ending his weekend before it even began. Fortunately, the popular GT Cup regular was unharmed.
His main rivals Dan and Grahame de Zille were also absent having chosen to compete in the Ferrari Challenge competition at Snetterton which left the championship standings wide open heading into race one on Saturday morning.
The ever-competitive group GT3 saw four different winners across the four races with Racelab and Cook Racing also taking three podiums apiece.
Donington superstar James Wallis carried on as he left off with a dominant victory in race one with the Drivetac Mercedes-AMG GT3 but that would ultimately be the highlight of their weekend.
A close battle with Hugo Cook in Sunday’s sprint saw Sam Maher-Loughnan come up just short in the same car but retirements from both endurance races severely hampered their title chances as car issues forced the car off on two separate occasions.
Saturday’s endurance race meanwhile was clinched by reigning champion Simon Orange and his new co-driver, Tom Roche who takes his first GT3 victory. A further podium in Saturday’s sprint race helped their points tally before a difficult Sunday. It kept the car off the podium, albeit lucky to continue after a lap one trip into the barriers during Sunday’s endurance race. An incident and subsequent safety car that would ultimately spark chaos within GTH further down the field.
Lucky Khera managed to steer clear of trouble and expertly moved his way to the front of the field after the safety car restart. The Racelab McLaren 720s GT3 Evo was working perfectly for the ever-popular amateur driver and he gave Euan Hankey a large advantage when they swapped seats during the mandatory pit window. Hankey then emerged with a 30-second advantage before a late-race safety car wiped that out.
Fortunately, his rivals were stuck behind slower traffic so Hankey bolted as soon as possible on the restart whilst his rivals were stuck until the start line gifting Hankey another huge advantage and his and the team’s first win of the season.
Hugo Cook meanwhile now sits atop the GT3 group points standings after a win and two second places alongside co-driver Sacha Kakad with their Audi R8 GT3 EvoII.
After reliability issues plagued them at Donington, the National Motorsport Academy-run Mosler MT900 stormed to three class victories including an impressive overall victory for Morgan Short in Saturday’s endurance race against the faster GT3 machinery.
It would have been a clean sweep however Marcus Short during Sunday’s sprint race overtook under the safety car which ultimately saw him disqualified post-race, handing the win to Paul Bailey in the Kendall Developments Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Regular viewers may notice that Bailey wasn’t in his usual Brabham BT62 and that would be correct. A podium in race one was followed by yet more engine dramas during Saturday’s endurance race which forced the car out of the race and the rest of the weekend with Bailey now scrambling to find a UK-based supplier for his hypercar engines.
As Hugo Cook had brought along his former Mercedes-AMG GT3, Bailey and co-driver Ross Wylie took over the car for Sunday’s running, bagging the aforementioned victory alongside a second place in the final race.
It wasn’t all bad news for them however, their consistent running and determination to keep going now sees them in the overall championship lead.
With the de Zilles out of the way, it was anyone’s game heading into Brands Hatch. Three different winners across the four races just prove how competitive GTC really is in 2023.
Gilbert Yates had a tricky weekend in the Blackthorn Lamborghini Hurácan Super Trofeo Evo2 with three non-finishes. However, the race he did finish was Saturday’s endurance race in which he took a dominant victory. A mechanical failure in Sunday’s sprint race left him out for the remainder of the weekend whilst contact under yellow flags in Saturday’s sprint left him disqualified after finished second on the road.
Topcats Racing inherited that second place courtesy of the Yates incident but had an uncharacteristically quiet weekend.
A lights-to-flag victory in Sunday’s sprint race was the only other high point during the weekend. Issues in Saturday’s endurance were followed by a driveshaft failure early on in Sunday’s endurance race which cost them valuable points in the championship standings.
It was therefore left for Matty Evans and Kevin Clarke to wrap up the remaining two victories in the Woodrow Motorsport Lamborghini Hurácan Super Trofeo and this, coupled with podiums in the other two races, now leaves them atop of the GTC standings and just four points adrift of the overall championship lead.
After an unfortunate incident at Monza left Charles Dawson with a fractured vertebra, Gustavo Xavier was drafted in to replace him for Brands Hatch in the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Despite never having raced at Brands Hatch before, he took to the track like a duck to water taking the first three class victories of the weekend with Seb Morris assisting in Saturday’s endurance race.
However, Sunday’s Endurance race was a completely different story. The aforementioned safety car for Simon Oranges’ excursion was deployed instantly on lap one of the race.
Chris Murphy in his group GTO BMW M3 GTR slowed in response to the call but was then overtaken by not one but five of the six GTH cars.
The incident was to be reviewed after the race and in the meantime, Makehappen Racing’s Chris Hart and Stephen Walton performed a heroic effort in their Mercedes-AMG GT4 to hold off the pro drivers aboard their fellow GT4 machinery.
Ultimately they couldn’t quite manage it and it was Tom Canning in the Feathers Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 who came from last to first in the space of just 20 minutes to take yet another victory for 2023, or so he thought.
The five troubled cars from earlier in the race were ultimately disqualified from the final results which included the race-winning Aston Martin.
Paddock Motorsport was the only team to have not transgressed on the opening lap as they did at Donington and won Sunday’s endurance race. Although they themselves were hit with a post-race drive-through penalty for a short pitstop.
Round three of the 2023 GT Cup championship takes place at Snetterton circuit for the first of two meetings at the Norfolk venue on the 3/4th of April.
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