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GT Cup - Silverstone - October 10-11

Following on from SRO's announcement of the package they hope will bring back the concept of full grids to the British GT Championship, here's a reminder of what they are up against in the UK National motorsport market - with words from Jock Simpson and with particular thanks for the pictures from Mick Herring - Thanks Mick our thoughts are with you

A virtually full grid of thirty nine drivers were faced with a busy, crowded qualifying session made even more tricky as the track was drying out during the session and there was not enough time to change from ‘wets’ onto ‘slicks’. Several drivers never found the space to put in a ‘quick’ lap.

Race One..

In Group One these conditions had favoured Michael Donovan (Porsche 997 GT3 #49) and he was surprised and delighted to take pole ahead of Mike Gardiner (Dodge Viper #57). However at the rolling start it all went wrong for Mike Gardiner when he jumped the start and incurred a ten second penalty for his efforts. This left Donovan with a comfortable lead and what looked like a secure win for the first time this season .. but a problem with the water cooling in his Porsche sidelined him after nine laps leaving a rather fortunate Gardiner with a race win.

Second in Group One was a newcomer to GT Cup, Chris Randall, in his very rapid  beautifully prepared Lotus Europa #89, it was a great drive since he had started 12th after a poor qualifying session. All the same this was a brilliant debut for the Lotus Europa, a model that the organisers hope to see more of next season.

In 3rd place was Howard Spooner, returning to GT Cup with his superb Morgan Aero 8.

In Group Two it was another newcomer to GT Cup, Jack Gerber, who brought his Ferrari 430 Challenge home first. Alex Martin was racing his Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car for the first time in GT Cup and was having an exciting weekend having spun and damaged the car testing ,  he went on to have another spin in the race but then had a great drive back through the grid to take 2nd in Group Two. Jeff Leadley came 3rd in his Ferrari 430 Challenge car.

Group Three was a Porsche ‘lock out’ when Marco Pullen’s Ferrari 360 snapped a drive shaft leaving the way clear for Jim Geddie to take a win in his Porsche 996 GT3 Cup followed by Gary Eastwood in his similar Porsche.

Group Four brought us one of the surprises of the weekend.. a debut win for Chris Bialan in his Lotus 211. Like the Lotus Europa this is model that the organisers expect to see several more of in 2010. Will Goff’s run of success had come to an end when he got a puncture in his Aston Martin GT4. But this put David Tomlin into 2nd position in his Ferrari 355 GTB and Robert Koenig into 3rd place in his immaculate Porsche 993 Cup car.

Race Two

This time Mike Gardiner (#57 Viper) was on pole position and made no mistakes at the rolling start and began to steadily pull away from the hard charging Donovan, Gardiner seemed to back off towards the end of the race which allowed Donovan to close up and get within striking distance of the Viper but he got tangled up in traffic and any hope of catching the Viper evaporated.

Leon Price was having a one off drive in a Ferrari 430 GT3 (#88) and he took a little while to get to grips with it but still came home very respectable 3rd in Group ahead of  the well proven combination of Howard Spooner and his Morgan Aero 8. Chris Randall and his Lotus Europa had attracted 40 kgs of ‘success ballast’ for this race and this put a strain on the engine and its cooling so he retired the car after twelve of the eighteen laps.

In Group two Jeff Leadley (Ferrari 430 Challenge #34) was right on the pace, coming 3rd overall and 1st in Class ahead of the ever improving Alex Martin (Porsche 997 GT3 Cup #87)

In Group Three things improved dramatically for Marco Pullen (Ferrari 360 GTC #13).. with drive restored to both back wheels he won Group Three comfortably ahead of Jim Geddie ( Porsche 996 GT3 Cup #78). Colin Broster (Ferrari 360 GTC) came in 3rd.

In Group Four Will Goff ( Aston Martin GT4 #59) was back on form, now with a fully functioning car and came 1st, but not before the little Lotus 211 of Chris Bialan had begun to cause him considerable concern during the last few laps. It was great drive from Chris who was learning to live with the implications of success ballast in such a light car.

3rd in Group Three was Sara Bennett-Baggs in her first out in a BMW Z4, it was an exciting drive for her since the car only came available on the Thursday before the meeting and she was very short on time behind the wheel and her team sorting out the car!

On the last but one lap there was some drama when Henry Firman’s Porsche 996 GT3, received a slight nudge and the radiator got damaged leaking fluid onto the front wheels causing Firman to spin on his own water!   It had laid down fluid through Woodcote. By the time the oil flags came out several cars had ‘found’ the slippery bit and spun. Fortunately none sustained any damage.