For more than a decade until its conclusion this year, the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup was one of the leading one-make GT championships in the UK, serving as a launchpad for aspiring career drivers into top GT, prototype and touring car series across the globe.
The championship’s roots came with the Ginetta G50 Cup, which started in 2008 and joined the support package for the BTCC a year later. Nigel Moore, Nathan Freke and Frank Wrathall secured drivers’ titles across three hugely competitive seasons of racing.
In 2011 came the introduction of a new car, the Ginetta G55 GT4, and with it the launch of the GT4 SuperCup. The new series burst onto the scene with a huge prize on offer for the inaugural champion; a fully-funded season in the British Touring Car Championship.
Despite Tom Sharp sensationally winning the first six races in a row, and a talented entry that also included Carl Breeze, Freke and Colin White, it was Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan who emerged as the inaugural champion and earned the life-changing opportunity.
“I owe a huge amount to Ginetta and Lawrence Tomlinson, as that prize got me to where I am today,” said Morgan, who has since contested 11 consecutive seasons in the BTCC. “I’d only been racing for three years at the time, two seasons in Ginetta, and all of a sudden I found myself on the biggest platform in British motorsport.
“The GT4 SuperCup was cut throat, you had to be at the top of your game with everyone in equal machinery. All that differed was small tweaks and the driver, and I learnt a lot of speed and racecraft from that, which was massive for my career.
“Winning the GT4 SuperCup is probably my most memorable moment in motorsport. It was special as we were a one car team, up against some successful teams with multiple cars, and we went out and beat them.”
One of the names that was synonymous with the championship in its early years was Carl Breeze. The former BTCC racer contested seven seasons across the G50 Cup and GT4 SuperCup, remarkably finishing in the top three in the standings every year.
Four-times a runner-up, he enjoyed his title-winning moment in 2012 as he hunted down Sharp – who had won eight of the first nine races – to win in a nail-biting finale at Brands Hatch. Breeze’s longevity in the championship means he holds the records for the most race wins (29), podium finishes (82), fastest laps (23) and pole positions (10).
“The GT4 SuperCup was a great championship and there was a lot of good drivers that passed through,” Breeze told Autosport. “The most memorable season for me was 2012. After three rounds, we were about 100 points off Tom Sharp in the championship and it looked like a tall order to win the title.
“Me and Tom Ingram made inroads into his lead and it went right down to the last race of the season. Looking back, I drove the race of my life to hold him off and win it. I really enjoyed my time in the GT4 SuperCup – the camaraderie at the circuit and it was always good racing.”
Proving an immediate hit with teams and drivers, the GT4 SuperCup’s position at the top of Ginetta’s racing ladder made it an enticing prospect for young talents starting in the Ginetta Junior Championship, with countless drivers making the natural transition between the two series.
The first to successfully follow that path was 2010 Junior champion Tom Ingram. After winning the G50 class of the GT4 SuperCup the following season, he truly dominated in the G55 in 2013, taking the overall title with a championship record of 22 podium finishes in a single season.
“My years in the GT4 SuperCup was a fundamental part of my career, without which I ultimately wouldn’t be where I am today,” commented Ingram, who won the BTCC title this year. “The championship taught me what I needed to learn from racecraft, car setup, how to manage race weekends and everything in-between. I felt when I got to touring cars that I was ready to compete, primarily based off the schooling I got in Ginetta’s.”
Charlie Robertson followed in his footsteps by taking championship glory in both the Juniors (2012) and GT4 SuperCup (2014), a feat only since replicated by Adam Smalley. That came as part of Robertson’s ascension through the Ginetta ranks to his current role as a Factory Driver.
In the process, he’s probably driven the G55 GT4 as much as any other driver. Through the years, consistent development work and upgrades to the car ensured it remained a key learning tool for aspiring career drivers.
“I describe the G55 SuperCup cars as between GT4 and GT3 in terms of pace, it’s like nothing else,” explained Robertson. “The cars are so fast, with good aero and great grip. They teach you that basic level of understanding of car dynamics, and you can race close, so it’s always provided great action and improved your race craft.
“Winning the GT4 SuperCup was massive and launched my career. It gave me the opportunity to then use the stepping stones that Ginetta provided to move into endurance racing and greater GT racing, and eventually sign with them and become a Factory Driver.”
Over the years, a steady stream of young talents learnt the ropes in the championship and gained the attributes needed to progress and enjoy success in motorsport, with many looking back fondly at their time racing the Ginetta G55 GT4.
Harry King won the 2019 title in style and has since gone on to become a double Porsche champion: “The G55 was a perfect learning car. Two years in the GT4 SuperCup taught me everything that I still use today with my driving, and I think it was a really critical stepping stone as a young driver to gain all the skills and knowledge needed to race GT cars. It meant when I made the move into Porsche, I already had a lot of ingredients needed to jump into a 911 and succeed so early on.”
Following in King’s footsteps is Smalley, who emerged as GT4 SuperCup champion last year and succeeded King as the Porsche GB Junior driver for 2022/23: “The G55 was loved by every single driver on the grid, as it’s such a fun race car to drive and a massive learning tool. The championship was very tough and taught me everything I needed to come into the Carrera Cup GB this year and be at the front end of the field. I absolutely loved the series, the competition was high and there was a friendly atmosphere in the paddock.”
One of the places where GT4 SuperCup graduates have shone is in the BTCC itself. 2012 front-runner Jake Hill challenged Ingram for the top crown this year, while 2015 champion Tom Oliphant, his team-mate that season Ollie Jackson, and 2017 title contender George Gamble are all race-winners in the championship.
Carl Boardley and Michael Crees, overall runner-up and Am champion respectively in 2018, have both since competed in the BTCC, as did Jack Mitchell and Will Burns, the latter in-between two spells in the GT4 SuperCup that culminated in the 2020 title.
Hill: “The G50 was the first GT car I drove, then the G55. They’re great cars and have been very successful around the world as GT cars. I enjoyed my time in them a lot and it did leapfrog me into learning what a GT car is all about.”
Oliphant: “Winning the GT4 SuperCup was a defining moment in my career. Looking back, the G55 is one of the most fun cars I’ve driven. It’s one of the best built and designed cars in terms of what it gives the driver with feedback and race-ability.”
Gamble: “The G55 was really fast, you got a good feel of the aero and the championship was super competitive the year I did it, with five or six of us in with a shout of winning a race. It was a good championship to be part of and really helped me progress in my career.”
Burns: “The GT4 SuperCup was always an extremely tough one-make series to compete in and I was lucky enough to enjoy two spells in it. It regularly had some of the best drivers from across the country battling it out, and to come away as champion was an incredibly proud moment.”
The roll call of overall champions also includes Tom Wrigley, whose three-point success over Burns in 2016 was the smallest winning margin in series history, and his successors to the crown Callum Pointon and Charlie Ladell.
The honour of being the final GT4 SuperCup champion went the way of James Kellet meanwhile, after the biggest shake up in the series’ history came with the introduction of the new Ginetta G56 GT4 for 2022. An evolution of its successful predecessors in the G50 and G55, the V8 powered machines produced the fastest ever one-make Ginetta racing.
Kellett excelled in the G56 as he wrote his name into the record books. Starting off with seven consecutive race wins, beating the tally set by Sharp in the inaugural season, he went on to record the most wins in a single campaign with 13, a record previously held jointly by Sharp, Ingram and King.
“I’d been dreaming of doing the GT4 SuperCup since I was in the Juniors back in 2014 and my team-mate Charlie Robertson won the title, but I’d never had the budget to do it until this year,” said Kellett, who is also a two-time GT5 Challenge champion.
“I’m really pleased to have been able to get on the grid for the final year of the series, and to win it was an incredible feeling. The G56 was a completely different driving style to the G55, with traction control and ABS, so that was a learning curve for us all, but I think Ginetta did an awesome job with the new car.”
It wasn’t just behind the wheel where talent shone through in the GT4 SuperCup, but throughout the paddock also as leading teams battled it out. They included HHC Motorsport, Rob Boston Racing, Elite Motorsport and Century Motorsport, who all won multiple drivers’ titles.
JHR Developments, Total Control Racing, Triple M Motorsport, IDL Racing and United Autosports were amongst the other front-runners over the years, with Century ultimately topping the stats sheets with the most overall race wins (52), podium finishes (139) and fastest laps (53) of any team.
Century Motorsport team principal Nathan Freke reflected: “2009 was our first proper introduction into GT racing with the G50 Cup. We started the opening rounds with an open trailer, transit van and pop-up marquee, and we won. It rapidly evolved from there, we burst onto the scene as a team and at the end of the season people wanted us to run their cars.
“We had four cars in 2010 and it continued from there when the GT4 SuperCup began. It’s been an absolutely fantastic championship for us as a team. We were here from the start and we’re here at the end, and to finish as the most successful team in the series’ history is a nice way to cap it all off.
“The championship was one of the best proving grounds for aspiring drivers. The sprint races were intense and unforgiving if you made a mistake, making you focus on all areas of your driving. It’s given a lot of drivers the opportunity to move forwards and progress in the sport.”
A look back at the history of the GT4 SuperCup wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most experienced and successful driver in the championship, Colin White. Since joining the grid in 2011, he competed in 242 of the series’ 289 races, winning more class titles than anyone else; the Am crown in 2015 and 2016, and then the Pro Am honours in 2020 and 2021.
Hot on his heels for race starts was Reece Somerfield, who made 238 appearances across 11 consecutive seasons. Five other drivers contested more than 100 races meanwhile; Breeze, Burns, Tom Hibbert, Jamie Orton and Boardley.
In the end, no less than 204 drivers competed in the GT4 SuperCup. 45 of those won races outright for 25 different teams, 70 finished in the overall top three and 12 were crowned champion, with 10 more securing class titles; Mark Davies, Sean Huyton, Jac Constable, Nathan Heathcote, Stewart Lines, Wes Pearce, Luke Reade, Ian Duggan, Crees and White.
With an impressive roll call of successful alumni, a rich history of exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and a longevity in the top levels of British motorsport that many a championship would only dream of, there’s no doubt the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup will be a championship fondly remembered by many.