Plenty to play for as GT Cup returns to Donington Park

Plenty to play for as GT Cup returns to Donington Park

This weekend marks the sixth event of the season for the GT Cup as the championship returns to Donington Park for the second time this year. Back in April, the series competed on the National layout, but now the teams must face the full GP circuit.

With another bumper grid of over forty cars, fans are in for a treat. Invitational entries are bumping up the numbers for several groups but don’t forget that those entrants won't be eligible for championship points. Groups GT3 and GTH (the GT Cup's GT4 group) are the most well-represented with seven and fourteen entries respectively. Plus, with the addition of some Ferraris and BMWs to the grid, eleven manufacturers are represented this weekend.

The championship is entering its closing phases as this weekend marks the penultimate event. There are still eight races worth of points up for grabs though so Sam and Richard Neary can't quite grab that overall championship title yet – Topcats Racing's Warren Gilbert and Jensen Lunn are still in with a shout. There will be some complicated maths to come as the possible outcomes of the championship are worked out but at the moment, it's still all to play for!

The top four cars in the overall title fight are leaders of their respective groups. Currently sitting third is Simon Orange, leader of Group GTA and now sole pilot of the Orange Racing Ginetta, while current Group GTB leader Nick Phelps sits fourth. Former Group GTB leaders Richard Marsh and Sam Randon slip to fifth in the championship, pushing Josh Jackson and the Orange Racing McLaren down a place. Though with both cars leading their respective groups, it should be no surprise that Orange Racing is also topping the tables in the team championship.

The team's domination is stretching to the new Sporting Challenge with the top spots held by Simon Orange. The challenge is only open to teams with purely sporting line-ups and it's Paddock Motorsport's Moh Ritson and Tom Rawlings sitting behind him.

The final two weekends of the season will stick to the two-day race format, which means there are still four more sets of Sprint Race points up for grabs in the Sprint Challenge. Valluga Racing's Nick Phelps holds a ten-point lead over Simon Orange with Scott Sport's Craig Wilkins a further eight points back.

Let's take a look at the grid in more detail, starting with the biggest group of them all – GTH.

Four invitational entries join the GTH cohort for this weekend. Greystone GT are expanding their GTH stable to four cars this weekend with an extra McLaren 570S for Philip Carter and Michael Broadhurst. The second new entry for the group this weekend is also a McLaren, this time from Optimum Motorsport and in the hands of father-son pairing Ron and Stewart Linn. Tim Docker and Jordan Albert make a return in the Fox Motorsport McLaren 570S as another GTH invitational entry which happens to bring the total number of McLarens in the group up to ten for this weekend.

The final invitational entry for Donington Park comes from In2Racing as they return to the championship with a Porsche Caymans for Charles Clarke and Ben Barker.

As for the full-season cohort, as mentioned earlier, Greystone GT has a further three cars on top of the Carter/Broadhurst entry – the #22 for Richard Mason and Jon Lancaster, the #77 for Mark Hopton and Adam Carroll, and the #23 for Iain Campbell and Oli Webb. Sticking with the McLaren theme, Paddock Motorsport has their two cars– the #26 of Moh Ritson and Tom Rawlings and the #44 of former GT Cup champions Steve Ruston and John Whitehouse.

Balfe Motorsport and Orange Racing make up the final two of the GTH McLaren squad. Mike Price and Callum MacLeod have settled into the GT Cup well with some excellent results so far in their vibrant green Balfe car. Meanwhile, Orange Racing are sticking with their new driver strategy with Josh Jackson sharing their GTH car with Michael O'Brien.

It's not all McLarens though in GTH. Valluga Racing is also representing Porsche with their Cayman Clubsport GT4. Driver Carl Cavers is reunited with teammate Lewis Plato after Plato had to skip our last weekend at Silverstone. Century Motorsport and Feathers Motorsport make up the Aston Martin stable with Vantage GT4s. Tom Canning returns to replace Darren Turner as James Guess' teammate in the Feathers car while David Holloway and Bradley Ellis will be looking to build on the podium finish they got during Sunday's pitstop race last time out.

Group GTA is still living up to its nickname of GT-Ginetta with six of them lining up on the grid this weekend. Simon Orange remains the sole driver for the Orange Racing Ginetta G55 after confessing he much prefers it to the team's McLaren. Scott Sport's Craig Wilkins currently sits second in the title fight, a little adrift from both Simon Orange and Century Motorsport's Alex Stevenson and James Kellett in third. Makehappenracing and Fox Motorsport are still very close to one another in the points as their driver pairings have proven to be well-matched throughout the season. Russ Lindsay and Patrick Collins in the second Orange Racing Ginetta round out the Group GTA grid.

Remember our six groups are split into two batches to make things easier and safer during pit stops. The third group in the batch with GTH and GTA is Group GTB which has an invitational entry of its own. For the first time this season, Petrolhead Motorsport join the championship with a BMW M3 E46 for driver Jason Garrett. Charlotte Gilbert and Jon Harrison will be looking to claim a few more points in the #3 Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis, while Nick Phelps will be doing his utmost to retain his points lead in the Group Championship. His main contenders Richard Marsh and Sam Randon will be forced to sit out this weekend as Marsh recovers from injury.

Our second batch of runners covers Groups GT3, GTO and GTC. With seven entries this weekend, Group GT3 is the largest group for this batch, with several new faces joining the grid. Greystone GT joins the group for the first time with a McLaren 720S for Andrey Borodin and Ed Pead, while Enduro Motorsport has swapped their points scoring GTH entry for an invitational entry in Group GT3 in a Mercedes AMG GT3. Two British GT teams join the fold for Donington Park – G-Cat Racing's Shamus Jennings and Greg Caton are entering their Porsche 991 GTR GT3 and Ultimatespeed's Matt Manderson will be running the Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

This should all provide plenty of on-track competition for our full-season runners. Team Abba Racing has a comfortable lead on the group title, thanks to some excellent results for Sam and Richard Neary. Triple M Motorsport/Tecserve's Grahame Tilley will be racing alongside Sennan Fielding this weekend in the Nissan NISMO GT-R GT3 as Will Tregurtha is otherwise engaged. The Scott Sport Lamborghini Huracan of John Dhillon and Phil Quaife will no doubt be looking to nab a few points from the Nissan as they sit just 24 points behind in the group title.

Group GTC is again a good-sized group this weekend with six cars lining up on the grid. Group points leaders Jensen Lunn and Warren Gilbert will face on-track competition from three invitational entries. G-Cat Racing are bringing along Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup for David Shaw while Roy Millington and Benny Simonsen make a return in their Ferrari 488 under the name of Millington Motorsport.  Stanbridge Motorsport will still be running two cars this weekend though the second looks a little different. It's business as usual for the #41 of James Simons and Fraser Smart but they're joined by James and Tom Webb in their #113 Lamborghini Huracan. LK Motorsport's #247 Ferrari 488 will be running with Lee Frost aboard for Donington Park, replacing Lucky Khera.

The final three cars on the grid belong to Group GTO with several very different bits of machinery. Paul Bailey and Ross Wylie have made a substitution with the Brabham BT62 being benched. The pair will be running a McLaren GT3 Canam as the Brabham undergoes some work. Raw Motorsports' Ben Dimmack and Steve Burgess took some solid results last time out at Silverstone and will no doubt be looking for more of the same in their Radical RXC GT3. Making a welcome return this weekend is Richard Chamberlain. The CTR Developments team has completed work on their Porsche 935 and will be bringing the fight to their Group GTO rivals.

There will be plenty of action this weekend at Donington Park, so be sure to keep an eye on our social media channels to stay up to date. There will also be live video coverage of all four races on the GT Cup Facebook and YouTube channels, with live tweet coverage available on Twitter too.