GT Cup held its penultimate round of the 2023 season at Donington Park in what turned out to be very mixed conditions. It would be the guest entry of Darren Leung and Dan Harper in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 that shone despite the treacherous nature of the British weather.
Meanwhile, a further three group victories for Paul Bailey and Ross Wylie push them ever closer to clinching their first GT Cup title with a healthy points margin heading into the final round at Snetterton in just three weeks’ time.
Two new GT3 entries took to the grid at Donington with Century Motorsport and their BMW M4 GT3 making their second appearance of the season. In preparation for their British GT title assault at the end of October, Darren Leung and Dan Harper certainly proved they have the pace by finishing on the podium in all four races. Meanwhile, fellow British GT campaigner, Iain Campbell made his first GT Cup start since the Snetterton finale last year. He joined up with Duncan Tappy in his RaceLab McLaren 720s GT3 Evo although didn’t quite see the same success as the Century BMW.
Meanwhile, the first victory of the weekend went to Hugo Cook in his Cook Racing Audi R8 GT3 EvoII having once again went to battle with Tom Roche in the Orange Racing McLaren 720s GT3 Evo. Just half a second separated the pair at the flag which seems to be a common theme amongst these two. Darren Leung came home third a comfortable 10-seconds clear of Campbell in fourth.
Saturday’s endurance race gave a result no one was expecting before the weekend began. A safety car just prior to the pit window bunched the pack up and with no pit success penalties to serve, G-Cat Racings Greg Caton emerged with a healthy margin over second-placed Roche in his Porsche 911 GT3R. Caton held his own up the front and managed the gap perfectly to score G-Cats first overall victory since 2021 also at Donington. He was helped slightly by Dan Harper in the BMW who in turn was all over the back of Roche’s McLaren, desperate to find a way through. Ultimately the former Carrera Cup GB rivals would have a great battle with Roche coming out on top and Harper rounding out the podium.
Sunday’s races saw a clean sweep from the Century BMW despite the tricky conditions which saw rain fall just prior to the mandatory pitstop window in the endurance race. Leung held his nerve and kept the car on track before handing over to Harper to bring it home. G-Cat managed to utilize the superior traction from their rear-engined Porsche to secure a third-place finish in the damp conditions whilst Simon Orange / Roche finished second after a disqualification from the earlier sprint race put a dent in their group title aspirations.
Especially as it was Sacha Kakad who finished second in the overall title contending Audi which sits 55.5 points behind the championship-leading Paul Bailey heading into the final round of the season.
Despite suffering severe damage last time out at Silverstone, Richard Chamberlain managed to get his Porsche 935 repaired in time and was back in action at Donington, albeit during Sunday’s running.
Jay Shepherd also returned for another crack in the National Motorsport Academy Lotus Evora GTE after a promising showing for the newly rebuilt car last time out at Silverstone.
Paul Bailey meanwhile continued his dominant form and took three group victories from the four races in his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. An inspired decision to pit early for wets (as he did at Silverstone last time out) meant Bailey had a huge pace advantage not only on his group rivals but the entire field during the downpour that hit Sunday’s endurance race.
The remaining race was won by Richard Chamberlain who managed to sort out the gremlins with his Porsche 935 to fight his way through the GTO order passing Bailey and Shepherd to take a well-earned group victory.
Shepherd meanwhile claimed three second-place finishes in GTO with the Lotus showing great speed and improved reliability this time around.
It looked set for GTC to become another Topcats Racing clean sweep, but an incident in Sunday’s sprint race put pay to what would have been a perfect weekend for the title contenders in their Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo.
Gilbert Yates took the wheel for Sunday’s sprint and all looked to be in hand until a collision at the Melbourne Loop with Philip Carter and Ed Bridle saw both GTH runners eliminated from the race whilst Yates continued in the now-damaged Lamborghini. Despite just nabbing the win on the line from the Team Orange Porsche 911 Cup Car, they were disqualified after having been found at fault for the incident which therefore gifted the win back to Patrick Collins.
Yates and co-driver Charlotte Gilbert rebounded with a final victory during the weather-affected endurance whilst Team Orange unfortunately had to retire their Porsche.
All of this leaves Topcats 93.5 points clear in the GTC standings and still with a mathematical chance of the overall title sitting 92 points behind.
Morpheus Racing continued with their ever-impressive form with yet another group victory for Chris Hart in his Mercedes-AMG GT4 whilst he and co-driver Stephen Walton would rack up two further podium placings across the next two races.
Meanwhile, RaceLab entered a pair of GT4 McLaren Artura’s with one being piloted by Ginetta racer, Callum Davies and long-time GT driver, Jon Lancaster whilst the second was driven by racing debutant, Melly Zhang and none other than Michael O’Brien.
It would be the Davies / Lancaster car that sent shockwaves down the GTH field as they claimed not one but three group victories on Davies GT Cup debut. An impressive feat considering the rest of the field has had all season to get to grips with their relative machinery.
Well, almost the rest of the field. After two outings last season, Formula Woman returned to the fray for Donington, bringing a brand-new car along with them. The new for 2023 Lotus Emira GT4 made its UK racing debut at the hands of Sara Misir who competed last season and Alanna Carter who made her GT Cup debut. It was a solid yet consistent outing for the pairing and the car. All proving their worth and picking up time with every lap in the car.
The final round of the 2023 GT Cup season comes from Snetterton on the 7/8th of October in what is set to be a thrilling final battle between the Bailey / Wylie Lamborghini and the Cook / Kakad Audi.
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