The opening round of the 2009 GT Cup took place at Silverstone and it was a resounding success.. It was a huge challenge for the organizers, Bute Motorsport and MSVR, to rearrange the venue and grids after Donington Park failed to obtain the appropriate ‘track licenses’ to allow racing to take place. Pirelli are sole tire suppliers to the 2009 GT Cup. This presented them with a major technical challenge since they had to supply a wide range of tires and sizes to suit a grid that ranged from a Lotus Exige to a full blown GT3 Dodge Viper, not mention Porsches, Ferraris, BMWs, a Morgan Aero 8 and three Aston Martins. There were two 25 minute races preceded by free practice and qualifying. None of the teams reported any tire problems at all, one team even suggested that the tires were far too good and he was going so much quicker than before he was overheating the brakes!The GT Cup comprises four ‘Groups’ based on a power to weight formula, with Group One looking after the most powerful cars and Group Four the less powerful ones. Group One was quite a spectacle with a Lamborghini Gallardo, Dodge Viper, Porsche 997 GT3S, Aston Martin DBRS9 and a Corvette C5 lined up at the front of the grid. Behind them were a mass of Porsche 996 and 997 GT3 Cup cars, several Ferrari 430 Challenge GT, two more Aston Martins, a Marcos Mantis, two BMW M3s and a Lotus Exige, a Lotus Elise and a Morgan Aero 8… In Race One, 32 cars headed for a spectacular rolling start in brilliant sunshine. It was the Dodge Viper that took the lead and immediately opened up a very handy gap as the rest of Group One got strung out until they arrived in amongst the back markers.
In Group Two a tremendous scrap was shaping up between the experienced Pete Morris and newcomer Glen McMenamin, both in Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars. In Group Three, two newcomers to the series were showing some of the old hands how it should be done and David Mayes and Peter Heinzelman, again in Porsches saw off Marco Pullen in his Ferrari 360 GTC. Probably the biggest smile of the day belonged to Will Goff, driving his Aston Martin GT4, he had a great battle with his team mate Matt Cummings in his small, but rapid, Lotus Exige. As always there was all sorts of action all the way through the field, now one of the great features of GT Cup.So it was Mike Gardiner and his Viper who won Group One, Glen McMenamin in his Porsche who won Group Two, David Mayes won Group Three in his Porsche 996 GT3 Cup car and finally a beaming Will Goff won Group Four in his Aston Martin.Race Two began to look like a forgone conclusion when Mike Gardiner opened up another big lead. Paul Hogarth and his Lamborghini ran out of time repairing hub damage incurred in Race One so he was out of the equation. But as the race progressed Mike Gardiner went slower and slower and both Mitch Millett in his Corvette C5 and Michael Donovan in his Porsche caught and passed the ailing Viper. Gardiner’s screen had got covered in oil from his ailing engine and he simply couldn’t see where he was going. In Group Two Pete Morris was now far better organized and saw off both Leon Price in his Ferrari 430 and McMenamin’s Porsche.
Group Three became a Porsche ‘lock out’ with Peter Heinzelman winning his first race in GT Cup followed by Richard Denny, another newcomer and one of last year’s stalwarts Gary Eastwood came third. In Group Four Will Goff rounded of a great weekend when he brought his immaculate Aston home first again followed by David Tomlin in his Ferrari 355 GTB and Michelangelo Segatori in his Lotus Elise.It had been a fantastic weekend; the weather had been excellent, the tyres behaved superbly, there were scraps going on all the way through the huge field. The 2009 GT Cup is now up and running and heading off to Brands Hatch and the Grand Prix Circuit on May 1-2.