Feathers Motorsport [FMS] made a glorious return to the UK-based GT Cup Championship with a double-class win, and two further podium appearances, in the season-opener at Donington Park last weekend.


This outstanding all-round team performance ensured the Northamptonshire-based squad, and its drivers James Guess and Tom Canning, left the opening meeting of the 2023 series, leading the GTH Class standings. It also marked FMS’s most successful single racing weekend yet with its Inspire Engineering-prepared Aston Martin Vantage GT4, with a second and third place adding to the two victories.


Four-race GT Cup meetings (of which there are six in 2023) comprise of a qualifying session on both days, followed by a 25-minute sprint race for the ‘Amateur’ driver in the team. There is then a 50-minute pit-stop race later in the afternoon which includes ‘Pro’ drivers – where the grid position is defined by the fastest lap in the preceding Sprint.


Guess, the 2020 GT Cup runner-up, duly delivered on a strong qualifying performance with a measured run to third place in the first Sprint – his first race for more than a year. Having also started third in class, the FMS driver found himself embroiled in a close battle between two Mercedes GT4 for second position and did well to bring the car home safely, creating a platform for the team to build on.



Guess then carried his form into the Pit-Stop race, where he charged up to second position in class having started fourth. His progress was hampered by a lapped McLaren which denied him the opportunity to chase down the lead. But when the red flag waved just as Guess pitted to hand over to Canning, it gave the former British GT4 champion a golden opportunity to restart the race with a Safety Car-diminished gap. When the race went ‘green’, Canning was unstoppable, storming into the lead immediately and setting a sequence of fastest laps that delivered an emphatic win.


Not to be outdone, Guess qualified second in class for Sunday’s Sprint race and engaged in an enthralling fight at the front with the Ram Racing Mercedes driven by Charles Dawson. Twice the pair headed into the Craner Curves side-by-side, and twice Guess came out in front. Coming into the last lap, Guess defended his line robustly into Redgate, and it was as well he did for the leading GT3 class then began lapping the duo, creating a natural gap between the Aston and the Mercedes. In the end Guess recorded the team’s second victory of the weekend by just 0.7 seconds.

This sequence of podiums meant FMS started the final Pit-Stop race of the weekend with a 20s success penalty, which needed to be taken during the stop. This added to the additional 25s Feathers is regulated to serve during the minute stop for having a Pro driver in its line-up, meant the team faced a challenge to record another podium – even starting second in class.


Guess got his head down at the start and raced into the class lead, but once again got drawn into a fight with the Ram Racing Mercedes. Aware that track position was key, Guess settled into a safe second on the road, and Feathers ended his stint with a perfectly-executed 105s stop from that position.


Canning emerged from the pits with a 14s gap to fourth position to chase down and little more than 20 minutes to do it. Another sequence of fastest laps, the best of which was a weekend class best of 1m08.749s, saw the gap reduce to the Ram Racing Mercedes in chunks of up to 1.5s per lap. Amidst this pursuit, both cars caught the leaders and as the race intensified towards its climax, Canning was able to pass the Greystone McLaren and the Make Happen Mercedes to place third on the road. This became second when Ram Racing was penalised for pitting outside the pit window, topping off a near-perfect weekend for FMS.

“As a team we’ve worked incredibly hard to ensure we return to the GT Cup as a competitive force, and that includes myself,” said Guess, who was awarded driver of the day, just as he was on the season opener in 2021. “I’ve tried to approach this weekend calmly, resolutely, and focussed on prioritising my driving – and this weekend it looks to have paid off. I’m delighted with the team’s performance, and it helps to have such a well-prepared car.”


Canning added: “That was immense fun. The standard of the competition in GT Cup seems to increase every year, and this weekend my fight included some drivers with serious GT3 pedigree. That made it all the more rewarding to come away from the weekend with a win and a second place and two fastest laps! James was outstanding, as was the team, and I’m already looking forward to returning to Brands Hatch.”


Team principal Simon Rose said: “We set a clear target for ourselves returning to the GT Cup in 2023, and so far we’re on-track to achieve our aims. The drivers were faultless and the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 performed superbly thanks in no small part to the hard work put in by Inspire Engineering. There is a long way to go yet in the season, but I couldn’t have asked for a better start, and it gives us the perfect platform to build from.”


Guess and Canning lead the GTH Championship standings by 26 points with a total of 85, and are third in the overall championship, nine points behind the leaders. Feathers is currently fourth in the Team Championship. The next round takes place on the famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 29-30 April.