The 2021 GT Cup Championship got underway at Donington Park on Saturday April 10 with a 37-car grid taking to the two-mile Leicestershire circuit for the opening 25-minute sprint race.
Victory in the opening round went to Richard Neary in the #88 Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with son Sam for the pit-stop rounds, the #88 car taking the chequered flag 1.62 seconds ahead of Michael Igoe in the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3. The overall podium positions were completed by Graham Tilley, at the wheel of the #4 Triple M Motorsport / Tecserv Nissan Nismo GTR GT3.
The class win the GTO category went to the #7 Raw Motorsports Radical RXC GT3 with class honours in the GTC, GTB, GTH and GTA categories going to the #9 Topcats Racing Lamborghini Super Trofeo, the #3 Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis, the #52 Deranged Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage and the #118 Fox Motorsport Ginetta G55 Supercup entries respectively.
Richard Neary, at the wheel of the #88 Mercedes, led the field away from pole position followed by John Seale in the #55 JMH Automotive Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Neary having been the only driver to break into the 1:04s in qualifying. The top three off the line were completed by Lucky Khera driving the #247 Simon Green Motorsport Lamborghini.
Seale and Khera made contact seconds into the opening lap, consigning Khera to the gravel and forcing Seale into a spin. Both were able to rejoin the race.
Neary, meanwhile, pulled away at the head of the field and had built an advantage of nearly 4.5 seconds after two laps.
In the GTO category, Steve Burgess, at the wheel of the #7 Raw Motorsports Radical RXC GT3 had an off-track excursion at Redgate Corner on lap five. Burgess rejoined fell to the back of the field as a result.
With 15 minutes remaining, Michael Igoe in the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini was within 4.5 seconds of race leader Richard Neary as a Safety Car was called following a trip into the gravel by Richard Marsh in the #34 Team Hard Racing GTB Porsche 911.
Green flag racing resumed with eight minutes still left and Igoe was immediately on the tail of Neary’s Mercedes. Richard Chamberlain, at the wheel of his venerable Porsche 935, was in third place after the restart but encountered problems and was beginning to fall back as the race entered the final five minutes. Chamberlain was to pull into the pits and retire shortly after.
With less than three and a half minutes remaining, the front left wheel came off the Chris Kemp’s #96 Stanbridge Motorsport Lamborghini running in the GTC category and Kemp finished in the gravel.
Neary took the chequered flag 1.62 seconds ahead of Michael Igoe in the #18 Lamborghini with the overall podium positions completed by Grahame Tilley in the #4 Nissan Nismo GTR GT3.
Race Two of the day, a 50-minute contest involving a pit-stop and both drivers of the two-driver teams, gets underway at 17:30 on Saturday April 10.