GT Cup commenced it’s 2024 campaign with four thrilling races at a sunny Donington Park. Once again an exciting mix of the latest GT machinery did battle around the former Grand Prix venue with newcomers, Forsetti Motorsport coming out on top after round one.

Race 1

The first race of the weekend was a straightforward affair at the front with Team Abba romping to an easy victory, 27 seconds clear of their nearest rivals. Those of you familiar with British GT will recognise Team Abba and their bright green Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo, however, their campaign in GT Cup for 2024 sees a slight difference.

Having been fearsome rivals over the past few seasons, Richard Neary teams up with Ian Loggie for their 2024 campaign. An unexpected move but one that yielded instant results with Neary dominating the first race of the season. Having also switched to GTO for this year, they are up against some serious machinery such as the National Motorsport Academy Lotus Evora GTE which just so happened to take second place with Jay Shepherd returning to driving duties.

He didn’t have things quite so easy as Shamus Jennings in the G-Cat Porsche 911 GT3R held the upper hand early on. However, the Porsche impacted a rabbit during the race, damaging the front end of the German machine, compromising performance and allowing Shepherd through in the dying minutes of the race.

This didn’t change any group results as G-Cat continue to run in GT3 for 2024 but it’s already a strong start for the Lotus which showed flashes of speed at the end of 2023.

GTC meanwhile was another closely fought contest. Tom Rawlings in the Topcats Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo was keeping Neary in his sights early on. However, leg cramping for the former GTH racer meant he lost feeling in his left leg and ultimately had to retire the car on safety grounds.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Topcats as Warren Gilbert wrapped up GTC in the other Topcats Lamborghini.

GTH meanwhile saw Forsetti Motorsport dominate proceedings with a one-two finish in their previous generation Aston Martin Vantage GT4’s

Race 2

After race one’s dominant performance, all eyes were on Team Abba who were expected to run away with the first pitstop race of the season.

However, despite holding a six-second advantage advantage in the opening stint, it was G-Cat who were on top form to take another pitstop race victory at Donington Park.

Once the driver changes were complete, Neary took control of the Abba Mercedes whilst Greg Caton took over the Porsche from Jennings and set about closing down the gap to Neary. Caton consistently lapped tenths quicker than Neary and with just three laps to go, he was all over the back of the green Mercedes.

Traffic didn’t help Caton as the gap grew and closed with every passing car but the Porsche driver got his opportunity at the final chicane on the last lap. Neary defended into the Fogarty Esses which allowed Caton to take the racing line and therefore more speed through the corner. An excellent cutback manoeuvre on Neary saw a drag race to the line in which the Porsche prevailed and took overall victory by just 0.1 seconds.

Neary still took GTO honours ahead of Paul Bailey and David Brabham in the Kendall Developments Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo whilst Shepherd claimed third despite slowing in the closing moments.

GTC went the way of Topcats Racing once again but this time it was Rawlings and Charlotte Gilbert who dominated proceedings ahead of three-time Legends Cars champion, Miles Rudman. Rudman makes his GT Cup debut this weekend in a Team Parker Porsche 911 Cup Car and showed impressive pace in his first race meeting with the new car.

With the pro-drivers now allowed to compete, GTH saw a different story to the sprint race earlier in the day. Despite Forsetti Motorsports Matthew Higgins and Mikey Porter starting on group pole, they were caught and passed by none other than former British GT champion, Seb Morris who was on an absolute charge during his stint.

Morris’s co-driver, Charles Dawson started the car and managed to overhaul Higgins during the opening stint moving him up to second overall behind the sister Forsetti car of Rianna O’Meara-Hunt and Jodie Sloss. During the pit window, the extra time penalty for having a pro driver dropped the Dawson / Morris Mercedes behind Porter who had taken over from Higgins and Morris now had to repeat the move Dawson had made earlier in the race.

A feat he achieved, disrupting the Forsetti train from Race 1. O’Meara-Hunt and Sloss came home second whilst Porter and Higgins dropped back to fifth at the flag.

Race 3

A new feature for 2024 sees Sunday’s pitstop race switch places with the sprint to become Race 3 of the weekend. This means that the fastest lap times from the opening stint of the race will set the grid for the final race of the weekend too.

At the start, it was Shepherd who got the holeshot and led the field in the early stages. However, Neary wasn’t too keen on this and set about closing the gap to the Lotus. A feat he achieved but not for long as a small mistake led him to run wide into the gravel at MacLeans and get beached, requiring the safety car to bunch up the field as the green machine was towed back onto the racing surface, albeit multiple laps down.

On the restart, Shepherd once again sped away from his competition and opened up a 12-second advantage by the time the pit window opened. From then on things wouldn’t quite be so easy for the Lotus driver as Greg Caton had climbed aboard the G-Cat Porsche and started reeling in the Lotus at a rapid rate of knots.

With just five minutes remaining, he had caught Shepherd and made his move exiting the Old Hairpin to secure his and the team’s second overall victory of the weekend. Shepherd held on to finish second overall and first in GTO whilst Gilbert and Rawlings took GTC honours and third overall after yet another impressive drive.

GTH meanwhile once again saw the Forsetti Aston Martin of Higgins and Porter on the top step of the podium. An early dice with Dawson gave Forsetti the upper hand and once the pitstops had been completed, they romped to a 24-second victory over the Paddock McLaren Artura GT4 of Michael Orant and Jake Poole who both make their GT Cup debuts at Donington.

Race 4

Drama occurred at the start of Race 4 as Loggie brought the Abba Mercedes into the pits after the reconnaissance lap to the grid, putting them out of the race before it had even started.

Meanwhile, an on-form Jay Shepherd led the field to a lights-to-flag victory in what was his and the Evora’s first overall GT Cup victory. His performances throughout Sunday gifted him driver of the day and also left him second in the overall points table behind the Forsetti Aston Martin of Higgins and Porter.

Meanwhile, it was another great performance from Charlotte Gilbert as she claimed second overall behind the Lotus and another class victory in GTC. Even better for Topcats was Warren Gilbert coming home second to complete a Topcats one-two with Miles Rudman rounding out the top three.

GTH saw Dawson take an early lead but he was immediately on the defensive from Higgins who appeared to have the faster car in the opening stages. But ultimately he couldn’t quite hang on to secure a second victory as Higgins stormed up the inside of Redgate to claim the lead and his third victory of the weekend.

Dawson managed to hold off the second Forsetti car and claim second whilst Jodie Sloss finished in third in what was a successful weekend in her return to the championship.

The second round of the 2024 GT Cup championship takes place at the fearsome Brands Hatch circuit on the 18th/19th of May.


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