Ace GT driver Neil Cunningham joined forces with up-and-coming 19 year old Adam Sharpe to drive the Richard Thorne Motorsport Morgan Aero 8 GT to a stunning victory in an action-packed final round of the 2003 British GT Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend.
Adam drove a superb first half, moving up into 2nd place from 4th position on the grid, while keeping clear of several major incidents on the crowded track. Sadly, the other Morgan entry, the Keith Ahlers/Rob Wells Aero 8, was an early victim, running off in a big shunt at Paddock.
The Thorne team were first to take advantage of the safety car’s appearance just as the driver change window opened, and Neil Cunningham took over with only a Lotus between him and the winner’s cup. The seasoned campaigner battled hard, but was still trailing the leading Lotus by around 6 seconds when the last lap was called. It seemed impossible that he could catch the Elise, which was making the most of the extra 50 kg success ballast on board the Morgan.
"Adam had left me in a great position. It was the last lap of the last race of the season, and there was nothing to lose, so I just gave it everything!" commented Neil.
Tucking in behind the bigger-engined, GTO race-leading Mosler, Neil stuck with it – putting in one of the most exciting and crucial laps of his illustrious career. Then, just as the team were preparing to celebrate a very respectable second place, the Morgan’s distinctive voice was heard charging into the pit straight to take the chequered flag ahead of the Lotus.
Morgan spokesperson and Works Race Team Manager, David Dowse, witnessed the cliff-hanger finish.
"What a fantastic way to finish a great first season in British GT Cup class for Morgan," he said.
"The efforts of both the Richard Thorne and Keith Ahlers Morgan teams have really lit up the British GT Championship. They finish the season in second and third places in the Championship respectively, with the Thorne team just 14 points behind the winners – an amazing achievement.
"The Morgans are relatively undeveloped, but they’ve raced – and beaten – the best of the highly-developed and well-funded Porsches, Ferraris and Lotuses in their class. And what makes this new Cup Class even more exciting is that anyone can buy a road car that’s very similar to the ones they’ve seen winning at races like this."Published 4 October 2003