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Bailey crowned GT Cup champion as Orange and 7TSix Share Sunday Snetterton Success
Oct 08 2023

Bailey crowned GT Cup champion as Orange and 7TSix Share Sunday Snetterton Success

Paul Bailey secured his first Overall GT Cup Championship title as he and James Dorlin picked up a pair of podiums in their Kendall Developments Lamborghini Huracan to cap a silverware-filled 2023 season at Snetterton. 

On the final day of the season, it was Tom Emson who shone brightest on an unseasonably warm October day as he converted a dominant pole to an equally dominant Sprint Race win, but the 7TSix McLaren squad had to play second fiddle to Orange Racing with JMH in the Endurance Race as the latter retained the Teams' Championship.

A safe weekend on track for the ever-consistent Bailey meant that the Lamborghini Huracan driver collected enough GTO points to ensure that, not only did he take the group title, but he celebrated a well-deserved maiden overall GT Cup Championship crown to boot.

In GTC, Topcats Racing earned themselves the group title, with GTH honours for the season going the way of Chris Hart and Stephen Walton for Morpheus Racing.



The final frenetic Qualifying session was a sign of things to come, as Emson got behind the wheel of the 7TSix McLaren 720s GT3 and set the timing screens alight.

Despite one effort being chalked off for being beyond the track edge, his second lap was more than enough to put him on top. His 1m46.850s was more than 1.5s clear of Sacha Kakad who piloted the J&S Racing Audi R8 GT3 Evo 2 around the 300 circuit just a quarter of a second ahead of GTO polesitter Morgan Short, who carried on the weekend's successful results in the Kendall Developments Mosler MT900. 

Charlotte Gilbert denied the de Zille's a pair of poles as she steered the Topcats Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo to the top of the GTC times. 

Sai Sanjay proved the pace in the #13 Racelab McLaren Artura wasn't just restricted to Callum Davies as he put in a storming lap to qualify 1.4s ahead of Hart's Morpheus Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Group GTH.


Sprint Race

From pole position, Emson further cemented his fine form from the morning by starting strongly and swiftly edging away from the chasing GT3 field. Last year's GT Cup champion Simon Orange moved his McLaren up into third place and spent the remainder of the contest pursuing the Audi of Saturday's race winner, Kakad.

Despite a brief scare as the left-rear quarter of the R8 began billowing smoke from rubbing bodywork, Kakad held his nerve and sealed second place ahead of the feisty Orange, both trailing the dominant Emson who claimed his first win of the season in the 7TSix 720s.

Kendall Developments added another GTO win this time thanks to Morgan Short in the flying Mosler, while the GTC battle went the way of Dan de Zille after he slotted the AF Corse Ferrari 488 Challenge down the inside of Charlotte Gilbert's Topcats Lamborghini Huracan heading onto the Bentley straight.

A star performance came in GTH meanwhile. Indian MRF Formula 2000 champion Sanjay - competing in his first weekend in sportscars - showed that his Qualifying speed was no flash in the pan, pulling clear to take an emphatic group victory for the Racelab McLaren squad.

Behind him there was an intense squabble over the remaining podium positions in the group. Stephen Walton held second spot in the Morpheus Racing Mercedes but with a keen four-car train locked to his rear bumper, chased hardest by the fellow AMG of RAM Racing's Charles Dawson. Try as he might with several sniffs into Riches corner, Dawson had to settle for third place being Walton, a result enough to confirm the group GTH crown for Walton and Hart in the #69 Mercedes.


Pit Stop Race

The 50-minute Endurance contest in the afternoon would be a closely-fought dice from the moment the front row starters took the green flag. Pole man Ian Loggie got the break initially but had Orange nipping at his heels for the entirety of the opening stint, looking for an opportunity to pounce.

Orange almost had his chance after snatching the fastest lap but was delayed in slower traffic before the mandatory pit stops, of which he had the double advantage of a slightly shorter stationary time in the lane, combined with Loggie earning a five-second time penalty for track limits.

Both would be the decisive factors as Orange Racing with JMH took over the lead with a trouble-free changeover, Tom Roche stroking the McLaren 720s GT3 home for a critical win - securing the points needed to grasp JMH's fifth GT Cup Teams' Championship.

Kakad took advantage of the Loggie and Emson time penalty to climb to second in the race on a strong weekend for the Audi driver, while Bailey and James Dorlin won in GTO following an non-start for their otherwise dominant team-mates Morgan and Marcus Short.

In the remaining groups there was no shortage of dramas. GTC looked to be once more falling into the hands of the AF Corse Ferrari squad, but the prancing horse was later reeled in by its galloping Lamborghini rival from Topcats Racing. Former champion Sam Neary had a 28-second gap to trim, and he did so before pouncing on the final lap to usurp Graham de Zille and take the group win for the GTC champions.

GTH started with chaos in the pack as Morpheus Racing's Teams' title charge was unfortunately scuppered by Walton's retirement after contact on the rolling start. Callum Davies pulled well clear in the early stages for Racelab, but their Artura was similarly reeled in by a herculean drive by Mikey Broadhurst in the Greystone GT McLaren 570s, which slipped by with minutes on the clock to seal the group win.


#28 Paul Bailey

“I was talking before about the triple, because we won the Sprint Cup, Group and the Overall Championship and I think it’s been a while since anyone has done that. Honestly, I don’t think it has sunk in yet, it’s been an amazing season. Two new cars that I’d never driven before and two separate co-drivers to learn from and an amazing team alongside the support of my friends and family. I thought it was all over when the engine blew in the Brabham, but I heard that the Cooks carry a spare car - as you do - and Peter did a very good deal in hiring that car to me and ultimately the Lamborghini was Peter Cook’s car as well. I think he regrets it now because we beat Hugo!”

#2 Charlotte Gilbert

“It was a bit of a blessing [racing with Sam] because the night before testing I was due to do the whole thing on my own because my usual co-driver Gilbert Yates is in the United States so I was looking for another driver and it just so happened that Sam was in the country, he’s almost finished his season in Europe with Lamborghini and he said he’d come and race with me. He’s taught me quite a lot this weekend in terms of car set-up and that sort of thing and in the end we found a happy medium. I wasn’t sure we were going to win the Endurance Race because Dan de Zille is pretty quick and I just kept enough of a deficit for Sam to go out but he had to drive his socks off to catch up to him and win the race.”

#69 Chris Hart

“It’s been a good year, a really good effort for the team. Stephen and Jon have made big steps forward - the whole team has. Pity it didn’t play out in the last race, but a one-two in Group was great and I think we just missed out on the Teams title.”

#13 Sai Sanjay

“It was a very good day, I got pole in qualifying by over 1.5 seconds so it was a very good moment especially considering it was my very first GT4 race and also at Snetterton, it’s my first race in the UK so to have a weekend like this means a lot. It wasn’t very easy to adapt because I was driving Formula cars before this but with the help of Jon [Lancaster] and Callum I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly.”

Jason Hughes (Team Manager - Orange Racing with JMH)

“An amazing season for us. We pushed all season to try and retain the Teams' Championship and Morpheus Racing pushed us all the way to the end, but we managed to get the job done with a mega win in the last race to seal the deal. We'll be back to hopefully add another next year!”

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