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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Liona Theobald continues her development in the GT Cup Championship at Brands Hatch

Liona Theobald showed good improvements in the GT Cup Championship at Brands Hatch, enjoying close battles with fellow GTH class drivers and a best result of seventh in the first pit stop race of the weekend.

Liona Theobald, SVG Motorsport Ginetta, GT Cup Championship 2024
Photo credits: JEP

Liona Theobald enjoyed a positive weekend in the GT Cup Championship at Brands Hatch. Driving a Ginetta G56 for SVG Motorsport, Theobald achieved a best result of seventh in Group GTH which came in the first pit stop race of the weekend. Liona made good improvement during her running on the second day of competition, with James Townsend securing the team’s first podium finish in his solo race on Sunday.


Making the step up to compete in GT4 machinery for the 2024 season, it was a successful opening round of the GT Cup Championship for Theobald. Driving alongside experienced Ginetta racer James Townsend, the pair were evenly matched at Donington Park and would be looking to push each other forward during the remainder of the season. Liona and James competed well in a talented Group GTH field and were now targeting their first podium finish as a team.


The event began with a series of test sessions on the Indy circuit, before the drivers tackled the Grand Prix layout on Saturday morning. Liona would drive in the majority of sessions on day one of the event, including the first qualifying session and sprint race. Finishing opening practice in seventh position within Group GTH, it was a solid start for the SVG Motorsport duo.


Theobald showed excellent speed on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in her Ginetta GT Championship campaign in 2023 and was looking to replicate this in GT4 machinery. Qualifying was delayed by a number of hours following barrier repair and together with a red flag during the session, this meant few laps for the Group GTH drivers. Theobald did a nice job to qualify seventh and was aiming to race her way inside the top-5 during the opening sprint contest.


Lining up seventh in Group GTH, Theobald lost out to Jon Currie on lap one but settled into eighth behind her rival. Building up her lap times, the SVG Motorsport racer continued to bank knowledge in just her second ever meeting in GT4 machinery. As the race entered the second half, Liona’s confidence was growing and this allowed her to match the drivers ahead. On lap nine, Theobald set a personal best lap time with her first sector matching those inside the top-5. This allowed her to finish race one eighth in Group GTH and bank valuable championship points for the team.


The first pit stop race at Brands Hatch saw James start the car in what was now set to be a shortened 40-minute contest. Despite not taking part in the sprint race earlier in the day, Townsend was immediately on the pace and gained one position on the first lap to move into seventh in Group GTH. Holding with the top-5 cars in class, this allowed him to overtake Jon Currie for sixth on lap four, before moving ahead of Jodie Sloss on lap seven. This move included smart racecraft which saw him also overtake the Group GTC machine of Chris Murphy.


Following this move, Townsend ran a personal best lap time and saw the gap to Sloss stabilise at one second. Handing over to Liona on lap 15, it was an excellent stint for James in the Ginetta G56 GT4. Theobald got up to speed quickly and set consistent lap times as she aimed to hold onto a top-5 position. A charging Marcus Clutton would be a tough driver to hold off and he moved his Mercedes AMG GT4 ahead on lap 23, with Rianna O’Meara-Hunt also making her way through. Nonetheless, it was another productive race for Theobald and Townsend as they finished seventh in Group GTH.


Aiming for further improvements on Sunday, the duo began the day by taking part in the short free practice session ahead of qualifying. A fifth-place result for the SVG Motorsport team was a nice start, with James taking to the track for qualifying. It was an excellent session for Townsend who set the fourth fastest time in Group GTC, less than one second away from pole position. This marked the team’s best starting position of the season and they were hoping to translate this into a positive race result.


Liona Theobald, SVG Motorsport Ginetta, GT Cup Championship 2024
Photo credits: GT Cup Championship

The first race to take place on Sunday was the pit stop race with Liona starting the 50-minute contest from third in Group GTH. It was a clean start for the SVG Motorsport driver as Theobald dropped just one position in class, despite significant pressure from her rivals. Trying to hold off the advances of Jon Currie, Liona was directly in between the two Morpheus Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT4 machines. As a result, she had to focus on defending as well as attacking by placing her car smartly during the Indy loop especially.


By lap six, this battle had turned into a four-way fight for the final podium position with a recovering Charles Dawson joining the fray. A personal best time on lap 10 indicated Liona’s progress in light of the challenging circumstances, with just one second covering the four cars. On lap 11, Dawson overtook Theobald and consequently moved into third position and pulled himself clear of the group. A further lap time improvement on lap 12 was an indication of her fighting spirit, before handing the car over to James on lap 16.


At the conclusion of the pit cycle, Townsend ran in third position within Group GTH. A shorter stop in light of a lack of success penalties and a combination of two sporting classified drivers allowed the duo to move into a provisional podium position. James was looking to recapture the speed which saw him qualify fourth earlier in the day and he would have to push hard with Chris Hart just two seconds behind.


On lap 19, Hart was able to find a way through, but Townsend held with his rival and set personal best sectors in pursuit of a podium. The pro drivers of Seb Morris and Marcus Clutton then made their way ahead of James, before the SVG Motorsport driver pulled into the pits on lap 25. A technical issue with the car was soon rectified by the crew and Townsend was able to rejoin the race and get up to speed. Unfortunately, a spin on the final lap of the race saw the duo fail to finish, however there was good encouragement to take from the 50-minute race.


The final race of the weekend would be a sprint contest with James getting behind the wheel of the SVG Motorsport Ginetta G56 GT4. Starting the race from fifth place in Group GTH, Townsend made an excellent start and avoided contact which took place between a number of class rivals ahead. By the end of lap two, he was up to third position and enjoying his best GT Cup Championship showing of 2024. Displaying both speed and consistency, James finished the final race of the weekend in third position within Group GTH to give SVG Motorsport their maiden podium result of the season.


Liona showed good improvements across the event with the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit being a particularly challenging circuit to master. Enjoying close battles with fellow Group GTH drivers, especially in Sunday’s pit stop race, Theobald banked vital experience while securing a healthy haul of championship points.


The duo will now be looking ahead to the next round of the GT Cup Championship season which takes place at Snetterton on the weekend of 1st/2nd June.


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