Triumphant Tilley Early Championship Leader With Donington Double
Grahame Tilley has left the opening GT Cup Championship weekend of 2023 with the championship lead as he added another two Group GTO wins to his tally in a dominant day for the Tecserve/Triple M Motorsport driver.
His pair of victories - the second alongside equally speedy Sennan Fielding - puts the Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer on top of the standings overall leaving the East Midlands. He has close competition, with a pair of GT3 and overall wins for James Wallis allowing him to make up some of the ground with his unfortunate mechanical on Saturday.
GTC put on a thrilling brace of races with the spoils shared by Blackthorn Motorsport's Gilbert Yates and AF Corse's father-and-son pairing Graham & Dan de Zille.
The same could be said for GTH, with James Guess prevailing for Feathers Motorsport in a race-long battle with RAM Racing's Charles Dawson to take Sprint Race spoils, before Tim Docker and Gordie Mutch put on a masterclass in their Paddock Motorsport McLaren to take the win in the final race.
A rare appearance of blue skies greeted the field for qualifying and as the track started to heat up, so did the action.
At the sharp-end, a captivating to-and-fro battle broke out between 7TSix's Casper Stevenson and Track Focused's James Wallis with the pair swapping pole position with every lap completed. By the end of the session it was Stevenson who prevailed, taking overall and GT3 pole in his McLaren 720S GT3.
Tilley harnessed the confidence of a silverware-soaked Saturday to power his Triple M Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 to third on the grid and a comfortable pole in GTO.
GTC went the way of the Topcats Racing Lamborghini, with Warren Gilbert sneaking pole by a tenth from Blackthorn Motorsport's Yates. Chris Hart took a weekend double, as he added Sunday pole to his top spot on Saturday in the Makehappen Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Group GTH.
Sunday's opening race proved to be a thriller, with captivating battles for wins in three of the four categories.
The 25-minute Sprint went uninterrupted, giving a perfect stage for the continuation of Wallis and Stevenson's Group GT3 fight into the first race of the day. The latter stole an early march in the bright orange McLaren but as Wallis got the Mercedes up to pace, he stuck himself right under the rear-wing of the 7TSix machine and waited for his moment to strike.
That came with just four minutes left on the clock. A better run out of Coppice allowed Wallis to draw alongside and prevailed in a battle of the late brakers into the final chicane to promote himself to a winning lead. Stevenson finished second, while Lucky Khera rounded out the third podium of the weekend in his Racelab McLaren.
GTC proved equally thrilling, with traffic proving a decisive factor as Blackthorn's Gilbert Yates took group honours. Warren Gilbert retook the lead after a faster start by Yates but as the pair scythed their Lamborghinis through traffic, Yates made his decisive move and managed to build a slender lead on the run to the chequered flag.
James Guess continued Feathers Motorsport's successful return to GT Cup by taking the GTH win after overpowering RAM Racing's Dawson. Tilley added to his success in Saturday's Pit Stop Race by taking GTO honours in his Mercedes.
If Wallis' first win of Sunday was a hard-fought dice to the flag, his crowning glory proved to be a touch more comfortable.
Starting second, he had to settle in behind pole-sitting Morgan Tillbrook in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren for the opening laps of the 50-minute encounter but it was just a matter of minutes before he powered past on the run into Redgate and seized the lead.
Building a small but comfortable margin on the squabbling pack behind, Wallis pitted a lap later than his rivals and benefited from a lack of success penalties - one silver-lining from Saturday's Pitstop Race DNF- to build a substantial race-winning advantage.
Tillbrook handed the 720S over to Marcus Clutton who finished in a comfortable second, ahead of Ian Loggie and Casper Stevenson in the 7TSix entry which finished third overall and in GT3 despite a moment of pitlane confusion between the two cars costing them both vital seconds.
Tilley completed his near-perfect weekend with a brace of GTO Pitstop Race triumphs as he and Sennan Fielding fended off a late-charge from the Paul Bailey/Ross Wylie-shared Brabham BT62.
It was three wins from four for the de Zilles as Graham and Dan took a comfortable GTC win in their Ferrari Challenge 488 Evo, while there was a new winner in GTH, as Paddock Motorsport's Tim Docker and Gordie Mutch benefited from success penalties and slick work in the pits to take victory. Another typically quick display from the Feathers duo of Guess & Tom Canning gave them second, with Chris Hart and Stephen Walton completing the top three in the Makehappen Racing Mercedes.
#11 Gilbert Yates
"It was tough battle with Warren. I passed him at the start and then he passed me back. Halfway through the race we started catching backmarkers and he was pretty quick so he passed me again. Finally I got back past him again and built up a small lead, but it was a tough race. The traffic was tough because you're watching backmarkers to try and get past them but you're also watching the guy behind because he's trying to get past you so it can be quite challenging!"
#50 James Wallis
“Yesterday was a bit of a downer, but the mechanics did an amazing job to get the car out today and to reward them with a win is just what I wanted and I hope they take the win as much as I do because that race, in the moment, was insane - I loved every moment of it. I've never seen the backside of a McLaren more I don't think! It was an incredible race by Casper, he did an incredible job and I think traffic helped me out a bit, it was nip and tuck all the time."
#4 Grahame Tilley
"It was good. I dropped a place off the line which was quite disappointing, but I just wanted to stay ahead of the Mosler. Morgan Tillbrook gave me some stick in the opening laps but then I managed to get away a little bit and gap him through the backmarkers. I think I was a little bit quicker, then I caught Lucky but knew I didn't need to pass him. Getting a good finish was all I wanted to do - at this season it's about points and the long game."
#82 James Guess
"It's been mega to come back, and we've really got the car sorted this year which shows with some of the results this weekend. It's a joy to drive, the balance is unbelievable and Tom Canning is such a class act. He will be on the world stage, but it's great to be back in GT Cup. It was pretty clean. There were only a couple of touches but no clear damage. I haven't raced in a while, but I'd imagine we'll be battling a lot with these drivers throughout the season and I look forward to it."View all news