The 2023 GT Cup season finale took place at Snetterton circuit in Norfolk. The second visit to the venue during the year brought up some drama as expected with the group titles waiting to be clinched.
Paul Bailey in his Kendall Developments Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo entered the weekend with a strong lead in the overall standings meaning nothing but an absolute disaster would prevent him from winning. Fortunately, no such disasters took place and he was able to claim his maiden GT Cup outright title.
Meanwhile, the weekend itself wasn’t without drama, a power cut during Saturday’s endurance race sparked chaos as officials desperately tried to figure out the order once the chequered flag flew. It wouldn’t be until later that evening that the final result was officially confirmed after some confusion earlier on.
GT3 saw three runners at Snetterton with Hugo Cook / Sacha Kakad looking to claim the group title in their Cook Racing Audi R8 GT3 EvoII. Meanwhile, Simon Orange and Tom Roche would put up a good fight to try and stop them with their Orange Racing McLaren 720s GT3 Evo performing well throughout the weekend.
Ian Loggie also made his return to the championship in the 7TSix McLaren 720s GT3 after his unfortunate accident in the earlier Snetterton round. He was joined by European GT4 race winner, Tom Emson who made his debut in GT3 machinery.
Cook and Kakad started proceedings with a clean sweep of Saturday’s races. Whilst on paper it may have looked like total domination, in reality, it was anything but. Roche kept Cook honest in the Saturday sprint race but just couldn’t quite manage to reel in the gap the Audi had built in the opening stages.
A stellar opening stint by Loggie in Saturday’s endurance race saw Emson rejoin in the lead after the mandatory pitstops had been completed. From then on, Cook was on a mission to catch the GT3 debutant and was lapping over a second per lap quicker in his efforts to catch him. Unfortunately for him, however, he used a little too much of the track and copped himself a 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
However, once Cook had caught Emson, the McLaren driver’s defence also saw him using a little too much of the track as he earned himself the same penalty, leaving a straight battle for the win. With just two laps to go, Cook made his move and held the advantage to the line earning his second victory of the day.
Emson meanwhile would get redemption in Sunday’s sprint race as a dominant lights-to-flag victory secured his first win in GT3 machinery.
Orange and Roche meanwhile would finally take victory in the final race of the weekend after less success penalties allowed Roche into a lead which he would not relinquish. Cook came home second but only thanks to Emson securing another 5-second track limits penalty with McLaren keeping the Audi at bay on the road.
Meanwhile, it was the Cook / Kakad pairing that clinched the GT3 title over the Orange Racing McLaren in a successful first season for the Audi.
Four entrants for GTO battled it out at Snetterton. The brutal Mosler MT900 returned to the grid after an engine failure earlier in the season curtailed their running. Morgan and Marcus Short once again behind the wheel but this time running with Kendall Developments rather than the National Motorsport Academy.
Meanwhile, Paul Bailey’s regular co-driver, Ross Wylie was at Brands Hatch competing in Porsche Carrera Cup GB so he drafted in James Dorlin once again as his co-driver for the weekend.
Saturdays running saw a clean sweep for the Mosler as they set about fine-tuning the car with a slightly smaller engine than the one previously used. The reduction in power costing them potentially up to 2 seconds per lap, but this didn’t slow down the Short brothers. Saturday’s sweep was followed by a further win during Sunday’s sprint race but a bent valve ended their weekend before the final race.
This was scooped up by the new 2023 GT Cup overall champion, Paul Bailey in his Kendall Developments Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
Bailey had managed to secure second position in all the previous races (1st in points due to the Mosler being an invitational entry). However, Jay Shepherd in the National Motorsport Academy Lotus Evora GTE gave him a good run for his money. Constantly hounding Bailey during Saturday’s sprint before finally getting past (albeit to make a mistake and drop back behind him again). And was running comfortably ahead during Saturday’s endurance race before the damper for the drank pulley failed, ending their weekend on the spot.
GTC started out with three cars initially but gear selection issues for the Orange Racing Porsche 911 Cup Car of Patrick Lindsay and Russ Collins meant they would not run in GTC leaving a two-way duel for group honours.
Dan and Graham de Zille returned in their AF Corse Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo to go up against the all-conquering Topcats Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo. Charlotte Gilbert once again would be behind the wheel but this time with a new co-driver. 2021 champion, Sam Neary was drafted in at the last minute to assist Topcat’s title chances.
However, it was the father and son pairing of the de Zille’s who claimed three of the four group victories. Only losing out in the final race of the weekend by just 0.7 seconds to Neary who pulled off a spectacular last lap move after closing down the Ferrari’s 28-second lead.
Eight cars took to the track in GTH with six of them stepping onto the podium throughout the weekend.
After a truly dominant performance at Donington, Callum Davies returned in the RaceLab McLaren Artura GT4 but this time without a pro driver alongside him. He was instead joined by 20-year-old Indian racer, Sai Sanjay who himself has won the MRF F2000 championship back in India.
Between them, they claimed the first three race victories in GTH and a second place in Sunday’s endurance race, losing out by just 3.5 seconds to Michael Broadhurst and Philip Carter in the Greystone GT McLaren 570s GT4.
Morpheus Racing meanwhile managed to secure podium finishes in all four races across both of their cars. Another successful season for their Mercedes-AMG GT4’s despite narrowly missing out on the team’s championship. A startline incident between Chris Hart and David Frankland saw both cars retire and with only one Morpheus car left in the running, it was game over.
The 2023 GT Cup season kicks off on the 20th of April once again with the opening round coming from Donington Park. Entries for next season will be revealed in the run-up to the opener, but in the meantime, our gallery from Snetterton will be published later in the week for a reminder of the impressive machinery on display within GT Cup.
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