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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Charlotte Gilbert claims overall GT Cup Championship lead after double podium at Oulton Park

Charlotte Gilbert has moved into the lead of the GT Cup Championship standings following another strong weekend at Oulton Park, finishing second in Group GTC in both endurance races.


Charlotte Gilbert, GT Cup Championship, 2024 Oulton Park
Photo credits: GT Cup Championship

Charlotte Gilbert has moved into the lead of the GT Cup Championship standings following another strong weekend at Oulton Park. The Topcats Racing driver finished second in Group GTC in both mini endurance races alongside teammate Tom Rawlings. The pair overcame adversity in race one after Gilbert was off-track during her stint, before narrowly missing out on the class victory in the second race of the weekend.


As the GT Cup Championship approached the halfway mark at Oulton Park, Gilbert held a commanding lead atop the Group GTC standings. Her performances, alongside teammate Tom Rawlings, also saw the duo arrive into the weekend just two points away from the overall championship lead, currently held by the Group GTH Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4.


With the racing at Oulton Park taking place over just one day, the Topcats Racing pair would compete in two mini endurance races as they fought for the overall title.


Conditions for the sole practice and qualifying session were challenging with a damp track for the duo. Building up their times throughout opening practice, Gilbert and Rawlings set the second fastest time overall and led Group GTC by almost two seconds.


Conditions were slightly drier for the qualifying session which immediately followed and it was another strong session for the championship contending pair. Their qualifying time of a 1:44.999 was over three seconds faster than the Topcats Racing sister car which set the second fastest time in Group GTC.


The opening race of the weekend saw drier conditions at Oulton Park with Charlotte behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. Lining up from third overall, first in Group GTC, Gilbert made a good start and gained one overall position on the opening lap while defending well from teammate Fraser Fenwick.


Fenwick cut the gap to just two tenths of a second by the end of lap two, before moving ahead on lap four. Nonetheless, Charlotte continued to run personal best sector times and was defending smartly from the Group GTO Lotus Evora of Jay Shepherd.


On lap eight Gilbert ran off the circuit at Druids and made contact with the barrier, however she was able to rejoin the race with minimal damage and held onto a podium position within Group GTC. Although now falling adrift of leader Fenwick, Gilbert began to gain back lost time on second place driver Miles Rudman and was up to fourth place overall as she handed over to Tom Rawlings on lap 14.


Despite the damage to the car, Rawlings was able to set fast lap times in the initial stages of his stint. The margin to Group GTC leader Warren Gilbert stood at 50 seconds, however with less than 20 seconds between Rawlings and Rudman, a runner-up finish remained a possibility.


A series of consistent lap times saw Rawlings cut the gap to just one second with five minutes remaining. On lap 22, Tom made the move entering turn one to claim second spot and he was able to hold this position to bank valuable championship points for the duo despite the challenges faced in Gilbert’s stint.


The second and final race of the weekend took place later that day with Gilbert once again starting the Topcats Racing machine. Lining up third on the grid, second in Group GTC behind teammate Warren Gilbert, Charlotte immediately moved ahead of her husband and into the class lead.


By lap two she had built a gap of over a second of her Group GTC rival, however Warren remained within striking distance. Charlotte did a good job to improve her lap times throughout her stint, however the battle for the lead remained close right until the pit stop on lap 12.


When the pit cycle was completed, Rawlings emerged second in Group GTC with teammate Fraser Fenwick now in the class lead. Despite the success penalty for being a Pro Sporting partnership, Rawlings was still ahead of Miles Rudman and could focus on catching the fellow Topcats Racing machine.


Fenwick’s pace was strong on his third outing for the team and this made it difficult for Rawlings to mount a sustained challenge. The gap fluctuated around a couple of seconds and despite his best efforts, Tom was unable to make a move on his teammate. Nonetheless, a second-place result in Group GTC saw Gilbert and Rawlings bank vital points and rise to the top of the overall GT Cup Championship standings.


It was another strong weekend for the Topcats Racing duo who secured another pair of podium finishes in their Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo machine. Charlotte’s pace was strong and she recovered from adversity in race one to finish in second position.


Although narrowly missing out on the victory in race two, Rawlings ensured the team swept the top two steps of the podium throughout the event. The next round of the GT Cup Championship takes place at Silverstone on the weekend of 27th/28th July.

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