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GT Cup Brands Hatch  - Race Reports

The GT Cup runners had a big crowd to entertain for round two of the Series as the A1GP circus came to Brands Hatch for the final round of that Series.

It turned out to be a weekend of highs and lows for the GT Cup Teams.

The ‘high’ was an excellent Race One, which turned out to be amongst the best that the Series has yet produced.

The ‘low’ was a Race Two which, due to a couple of big accidents, saw the drivers complete only a handful of racing laps, spending the rest of the time behind the safety car. 

In qualifying Glynn Geddie had surprised everybody by putting his Group Two Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car onto pole ahead of the Mike Gardiner’s Viper and Paul Hogarth’s Lamborghini Gallardo.

In Group Two Jeff Leadley and Ian Hartley in their Ferrari 430 Challenge cars were just ahead of the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car of Simon Leith.

Group Three saw Marco Pullen in his Ferrari 360 GTC ahead of Fiona James in her Ginetta G50 and Colin Broster, making a welcome return to the series, in a Ferrari 360 GTC. 

The only driver with a bit of fresh air between himself and the rest of his Group Four competition was Will Goff in his Aston Martin GT4. Chris Scragg had visited the gravel traps in qualifying and was 33rd on the grid with a busy race ahead of him. Second in Group Four was Sara Bennett-Baggs in her Aston Martin N24.

Race One

An amazing 41 cars came to the grid in brilliant sunshine. It was such a large grid that as the lights went green after the rolling start and the front runners crossed the line some of the Group Four cars were still coming into Clearways. Initially it looked as if Glynn Geddie was going to upset the form book by winning overall in a Group Two car but having opened up a healthy lead he got a puncture at Paddock Hill bend and was out of the running.

That allowed Mike Gardiner into the lead in the Viper. But Paul Hogarth eventually made a brave, if slightly nerve wracking, challenge and squeezed past the big Viper into the lead.

Hogarth made the most of this and as Gardiner seemed to be holding up the other Group One cars there was a wonderful battle shaping up between newcomer Michael Saunders in his TVR Cerbera, Paul Whight in the Aston Martin DBRS9 and Peter Seldon in his BMW M3 GTR.

The battle went on until Seldon ran wide and put the BMW into the gravel. This eventually brought out the red flags - race over.

That gave the delighted Hogarth a hard earned victory, Saunders came second and what proved to an ailing Gardiner Viper third. The Viper expired with a broken drive shaft just after the start finish line but had just squeezed past the line before the red flags came out!

If Group One had been hectic, things were also brewing up nicely in Group two. The Ferrari 430 Challenge GT is well suited to the Brands GP circuit and Jeff Leadley won Group Two and was running 5th overall at the finish with Ian Hartley just behind him after another a race long battle.

In Group Three Colin Broster was driving Marc Haynes’ (Series organizer!) Ferrari 360 GTC and proving that changing from a Porsche to a Ferrari wasn’t a problem but Marco Pullen in a similar car just had the edge and took the Group win. Michael Symons was third in his BMW GTR E6.

In Group Four Chris Scragg in his Aston Martin GT4 had started way back on the grid in 33rd place but he set about catching Will Goff in his Aston Martin and after a busy race he got back to within one place of Goff. It had been race with action all the way down the field in every Group and it had given the crowd and drivers one of the best races of the day.

Race Two

This was a different matter entirely. It all started well, with Glynn Geddie again proving that, with him at the wheel, a Group Two Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car can beat the more powerful Group One cars.

The racing didn’t last long though.  Lajos Varga in his stunning black Dodge Viper, hit the barriers extremely hard just after the exit to Surtees. This immediately brought out the safety car and the medical team were on the spot within seconds.

To everybody’s relief Lajos was fine but there was a lot of debris and damage to clear up. The safety car stayed out for several laps. When the racing eventually got underway again it had become an all out sprint to the end.

But we never really saw the end.  After a few more laps Hogarth and Geddie went into Surtees side by side with Hogarth on the outside. It was brave move as Hogarth took to the grass but the back end of the Lamborghini snapped away and the car piled head on into the barriers, coming to rest inches away from the stricken Viper.

Once again the medical team were on the spot and Paul Hogarth emerged from a very badly damaged Lamborghini shaken but OK. By now several yards of barrier had been destroyed and the red flags came out.

When the results were sorted out Mike Gardiner had won overall and Group One, Gleddie was 2nd and had won Group Two and Mike Donovan was 2nd  in Group One and 3rd overall.  Jeff Leadley had come 2nd in Group Two just ahead of Andy Ruhan. In Group Three Colin Broster won with Fiona James 2nd and Michael Symons 3rd.

Will Goff carried on his winning streak in Group Four and despite a rather bruising weekend Sara Bennett- Baggs came home in a very satisfactory 2nd place in her Aston Martin N24.

There had not really been time for Chris Scragg to catch up from his rather lowly grid position and he came home 3rd.

In Group Two. It was something of an anti-climax after such a great weekend.

So after the incredible ‘highs’ of Saturday the teams headed home a bit deflated. The next round is at Snetterton on June 13th/ 14th.