27 October 2019
WPI Motorsport enjoyed a clean sweep of victories in the GT Cup Championship season finale at Snetterton, but it was JMH Automotive who could finally celebrate clinching the overall title in their McLaren 570s.
John Whitehouse and Steve Ruston had to finish the job and did so with a pair of solid GTH finishes, beating GTC endurance winner James Webb to the overall title. Webb claimed the GTC crown, while Team HARD added GTA title success in their Ginetta.
GTB championship honours went the way of David Frankland despite the efforts of Top Cats Racing in their battle with Saxon Motorsport, while GTO spoils had already also gone to JMH with John Seale and Jamie Stanley in their Lamborghini Huracan.
Michael Igoe and Franck Perera meanwhile added two more wins on Sunday, making it four from four in Norfolk for the WPI Lamborghini duo.
Under much brighter skies, FF Corse’s Ferrari 488 Challenge was quick out of the blocks, with Dan de Zille grabbing pole position overall in the GTC car. Best of the GTO drivers was Grahame Tilley in his Nissan GT-R, with yesterday’s double winner Igoe third. GTH pole went to the rapid Fox Motorsport Mercedes of Mark Murfitt, while GTA went to the title-chasing Team HARD Ginetta G55 of Sam Randon. The GTB battle went the way of Saxon Motorsport’s BMW, with Tom Barrow behind the wheel in the 15-minute timed session.
Igoe made his intentions clear early on as he jumped up to second place behind the pole-sitting Ferrari of De Zille. The 488 driver held on for four laps with a very wide car, until Igoe’s GTO Huracan slipped by under braking for the Wilson hairpin and never looked back, winning by 14s.
The GTC class again went to De Zille, which finished second ahead of Shamus Jennings and Webb. The latter suffered a drive-through penalty for an out-of-position start, and fell out of overall title contention by the flag.
Instead, Whitehouse brought home the JMH McLaren fourth in GTH - won by Fox Motorsport’s Murfitt - which was enough for himself and Ruston to clinch the overall GT Cup title. GTB was heading the way of Barrow until a visit to the pits handed Jensen Lunn’s Marcos Mantis the class win. GTA went down to the wire, won by Ian Payne’s PT Sportscars Ginetta by just 0.681s after a five-second time penalty for track limits was applied to Randon’s similar G55.
The 50-minute endurance race started in similar fashion to the previous day, as Igoe made a break for freedom at the head of the field. The lead cushion over Webb extended to as much as almost 40s before the two headed to the pits for their mandatory stops, Perera jumping into the leading Huracan and hanging on to beat Will Tregurtha in the Nissan which Tilley started.
The GTC battle was dominated by Webb’s Lamborghini while Graham De Zille battled the GTO Porsche of Jennings for fourth overall, leaving son Dan to give chase after stops. The Ferrari man could not prevent Webb however, the latter finishing third overall and clinching the GTC title.
GTB produced a star performance meanwhile, as Saxon Motorsport’s Barrow and Jamie Morrow charged from the rear of the field to victory ahead of Lunn and Warren Gilbert's Top Cats Marcos. GTA went the way of class champions Team HARD, with Randon and former A1GP racer Niall Quinn sharing the Ginetta G55.
Fox Motorsport survived a track limits penalty to make it a clean sweep of GTH wins in their Mercedes, Michael Broadhurst sharing with Murfitt as they beat Chris Murphy’s Whitebridge Motorsport Aston Martin.
#44 Steve Ruston
“The car’s been awesome all year and we never really had any dilemmas with it. Kept consistent, which was why we were in it until the very end really. We picked up a couple of wins early doors, and then others caught us up towards the end, but it’s but awesome for all of us, for McLaren and JMH and everybody that’s helped us.”
#44 John Whitehouse
“The atmosphere has been great, the team have been fantastic and we just have to thank everybody. Sunoco, McLaren, and the people of GT Cup constantly motivating us. It’s tough to get to the end of the season and still have to wrap it up, but we got there in the end and I’m chuffed to bits. It’s easy to spend the money, but it’s not easy to actually do it on track. At the start of the year we had a bit of an advantage I think, but then everybody recovered and the racing got a bit more competitive which is good to see.”
#13 James Webb
“It’s a good way for us to end the season. The car was handling really well and it’s good to finally get on top of the car and feel better about it. I had to push really hard in the first half of the race and hang on to it until the end. The team have worked really hard, and I’m glad to get a good result for them. We haven't discussed what we're doing next, but hopefully we can challenge for the overall title next year. We came close, but well done to the boys at JMH as they’ve done a really good job all year.”
#98 Franck Perera
“It’s the first time I’ve worked with the team and it’s been a good weekend for us. We’re now looking forward to the future and for what we can do together with Lamborghini, but this for sure was a good test for me. Obviously yesterday we had horrible weather, but today it was dry and it’s good to end the weekend in a good way like this."
#19 Dan de Zille:
“It was a great result for us, especially after we had a mechanical problem earlier at the end of qualifying. I actually liked the wet, and I thought it played into my confidence in the car. In the dry, it advantaged the car and we held on for a long time and looked fast.”