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The track temperatures may have been Arctic but the racing was red hot at Oulton Park as the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup lifted off for a fresh season of entertaining action with a field of 27 cars and some exciting new driving talent.
The two Oulton races were both crackers, with a three-way battle for victory in the first of them settled only at the final corner in favour of Aaron Mason and his new Warranty Direct/AWM Scirocco, and an impressive display in the second sprint from the SlideSports Scirocco of championship newcomer Ross Wylie, whose prodigious talent more than compensated for his relative lack of experience.
Wylie and Martin Depper, a podium finisher today, jointly hold the championship lead after the day’s action, which will be screened later this week on Motors TV.
Mason’s path to victory never looked easy. The Doncaster driver was pressured all the way to the chequered flag, first by Golf GTI man Jim Cartwright (Matlock) and then by Birmingham-based Depper in his KPM-run Scirocco.
Mason seized the lead at the outset of the 11-lap race, overhauling pole man James Walker’s Golf on the run down to Old Hall. By lap’s end Aaron’s advantage was 1.1s over Depper, with Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon third and Cartwright fourth.
Two places gained on lap two saw Cartwright charge through to second, and within a further lap the 25-year-old had set two consecutive fastest laps to close right on to Mason’s tail. “My car for the first five laps was just awesome, absolutely mega,” said Jim.
Mason, Cartwright and Depper flew in tight formation until the end of the sixth lap, when Jim made a slightly better exit out of Lodge to nose ahead of Aaron across the start/finish line. He stayed a fraction ahead until Cascades, where light contact between them saw Cartwright slide wide and briefly off the track, slipping to third in the process.
“I managed to get past Aaron but then I locked my brakes and unfortunately gave him a bit of a bang,” said Cartwright, who prepared his Coverworld-backed Golf at the track virtually single-handed. “Then, running up to Knickerbook, I gave him room but he pushed me on to grass. It was fair enough, and I’m delighted with third, it’s a great boost.”
Mason’s worries were far from over, however. Depper broke the lap record in pursuit of the leader over the closing four laps and tried every wily manoeuvre in the book to try to find a way past. But Aaron had an answer to every move of Martin’s and crossed the line a quarter-second ahead. Cartwright was five seconds behind them.
“Given that I’ve had only around six hours in the new car, I’m very pleased,” said Mason, who also won the final two rounds of 2012. He’s the first hat-trick winner since 2007. “Martin did a great job, to be fair – he kept it clean. Jim raced well also; I think both of them had faster cars than mine towards the end of the race, but mine was a bit wider.”
Added Depper: “I tried just about everything, but I couldn’t get past. It was a great battle out there, a great race and really enjoyable.”
An impressive fourth on his debut in the VW Cup and in his first race on slick tyres was Dumfries driver Wylie. Ross, who will also contest the European Scirocco R-Cup this season, lifted fourth from the clutches of SEAT Leon driver Peter Wyhinny five laps from the end.
The 2008 and ’09 champion, Joe Fulbrook, took fifth on what he hopes will be his final appearance in his venerable Bora – plans to debut a new Golf GTI at Oulton Park were thwarted by a testing crash. Fulbrook took the spot from Wyhinny on lap nine; Peter was nonetheless delighted with his strong qualifying pace and race sixth.
Phil House, the returning champion from 2004 and ’05, was pleased by the pace of his PH Motorsport Scirocco following a troubled qualifying; he placed seventh, ahead of the oldest car on the grid, Alex Dziurynski’s de-mothballed Corrado. Team HARD Scholarship winner David Sutton was a notable ninth on his debut in the championship, with Superbike-racing star Josh Caygill 10th in his first-ever car race at the wheel of his AWM/Warranty Direct Golf GTI.
Local hero Phil Morris survived a half-spin at Island Bend to take 11th, well clear of KPM’s Stewart Lines, who stalled on the line and did well to make the top 12 by the end, especially given a last-lap loss of power from his Scirocco. Andy Wilmot led home his Team HARD comrade and series debutant Tom Barley for 13th, with David Fairbrother taking 15th in his new car, the Pall-Ex-liveried SlideSports Scirocco.
Of the remaining championship debutants, Emma Selway placed 16th, Jorge Calado 23rd after a pit visit to cure an electrical gremlin and David Garnsworthy 24th in his Vanworx Caddy. James Walker had to settle for 19th after power delivery problems sapped his pace; he had held sixth early on. Chris Levett retired his JWB Motorsport Scirocco with fuel pressure problems, while Cameron Thompson and Paul Dehadray retired after coming together in the closing laps, the crash blamed on a disintegrating wheel on Dehadray’s Golf, which led to a spin.
There were only six racing laps in round two, but Wylie made superb use of them and his SlideSports Scirocco to score an impressive victory on his debut weekend in the championship. Ross snatched the lead on the opening lap after starting third thanks to the reverse-grid draw, behind Wyhinny and Fulbrook. Fulbrook made the better getaway of the three to lead initially, but by lap’s end Wylie was in charge and leading his pursuers by a second.
Bottled up behind Wyhinny were Mason and Cartwright, and the three-way battle for third shaped the course of the race when, on lap three, Mason and Cartwright made contact at Island Bend and Cartwright’s car came to rest in a dangerous position, necessitating a safety car period while it was retrieved. The results of the race will remain provisional until stewards have viewed video footage of the crash.
Wylie kept his head for the three controlled laps and nailed the restart to pull even further clear of Fulbrook in the final three-lap dash for the chequered flag. Ross was 1.8s ahead of the Bora man at the line, with Wyhinny third – his first podium finish since 2008 – a whisker ahead of Depper.
“It’s the perfect way to start the new season,” said Wylie, who is tied on points for the championship lead with Depper. “This was my first weekend on proper racing slicks, so it was a whole new ball game for me. I got my head down and worked hard at it – it was a difficult race because of the safety car but I just had to keep my cool.”
SlideSports boss Mark Jenkins was impressed by his new charge: “Ross is an asset to the team and has done a great job today. He has natural talent, is very capable and very intelligent and he will be even better when he has learned about working with the slick tyres.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed both races today,” added Wyhinny, “especially this last one. I had to be quite defensive over the last couple of laps – sorry guys if I got in the way. I hope this isn’t just a one-off and that I can make the podium regularly this season.”
There were battles and excitement all the way down the finishing order. Team HARD’s David Sutton capped his earlier performance with a fine fifth ahead of Alex Dziurzynski, while Walker made up for his first-race disappointment – and an early-race clash with the Scirocco of Stewart Lines – to take seventh.
After his collision with Cartwright, Mason lost some ground and dropped further back still with a lurid slide across the grass at Old Hall after the restart. He recovered to eighth by the end, ahead of Wilmot and Morris, who went one better than earlier with 10th.
Caygill placed 11th, ahead of Fairbrother, Barley and Selway, with Dehadray putting his earlier problem behind him to take 15th. House joined Cartwright and Lines in retirement through accident damage – Phil went off on the final lap while trying to join the Wyhinny/Depper fight for third. “I smelt the chance of a podium finish and then locked up the rears and went off,” he said.
The APR Volkswagen Racing Cup returns to battle in a month’s time at Rockingham. Further backing for the championship comes from ECM, CEVA, Hankook, Milltek, Paragon and Prestige Performance Centre.
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup
Round 1 (of 14)
Oulton Park 1 April 2013 11 laps = 29.61 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time
1 Aaron MASON Doncaster Scirocco R 21m 38.726s / 82.07mph
2 Martin DEPPER Birmingham Scirocco R +0.266s
3 Jim CARTWRIGHT Matlock Golf GTI +5.362s
4 Ross WYLIE Dumfries Scirocco R +6.998s
5 Joe FULBROOK Maidenhead Bora +7.586s
6 Peter WYHINNY Verona ITA Leon Cupra +8.377s
7 Philip HOUSE Ripley Scirocco R +8.481s
8 Alex DZIURZYNSKI Bideford Corrado +23.489s
9 David SUTTON Swinton Golf GTI +39.382s
10 Josh CAYGILL Netherton Golf GTI 44.765s etc
Fastest lap Depper 1m 54.729s / 84.46mph Record
Round 2, 9 laps = 24.22 miles
1 WYLIE 20m 18.115s / 71.59mph
2 FULBROOK +1.819s
3 WYHINNY +2.757s
4 DEPPER +2.959s
5 SUTTON +5.496s
6 DZIURZYNSKI +7.238s
7 James WALKER Normanton Golf GTI +7.743s
8 MASON +8.069s
9 Andy WILMOT Dartford Golf GTI +9.313s
10 Philip MORRIS Congleton Golf GTI +10.672s
Fastest lap Mason 1m 55.712s / 83.74mph
With an anticipated grid of 27 cars, many of them freshly built to contest this year’s championship, the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup’s opening rounds at Oulton Park on Easter Monday (1 Apr) look set to provide some thrilling and unpredictable action.
Championship-winning drivers from five seasons will be in action, as well as a further six race victors from recent years. At least six new teams will be in operation also for the first double-header weekend of the 14-round televised series.
Heading the field is reigning champion and 2012 Oulton Park race winner James Walker (Normanton on Trent), but although he’s back with the number 1 on his car, James says this isn’t a title defence – he will be sharing the Walker family Golf GTI during the season with his father, Richard, brother Daniel and cousin Jack.
Walker raced a Scirocco to the crown last year and Volkswagen’s sleek sports coupe is very much in vogue for the coming year. Reigning champion team KPM will be fielding two lurid green examples for Birmingham’s Martin Depper (twice a winner last year) and Stewart Lines (Sutton Coldfield), while Doncaster’s Aaron Mason - third overall last year with four wins – hopes to debut his Scirocco at Oulton.
The 2004 and ’05 VW Cup Champion, Phil House (Ripley), returns to the fray with a Scirocco also, while ex-Golf men David Fairbrother (Halifax), Robin Riley (Milton Keynes) and Chris Levett (Bromsgrove) are also due to campaign coupes. Fairbrother’s will bear allegiance to major new sponsor Pall-Ex, while Levett’s is emblazoned with the colours of JWB Motorsport, the new team he has formed with ex-BTCC racer Nick Beaumont. Scirocco stalwart Kieran Griffin is also on the JWB Motorsport driving strength.
A further Scirocco has been entered by SlideSports for Dumfries-based championship newcomer Ross Wylie.
BTCC man and former Volkswagen Champion Tony Gilham and his Team HARD look like having one of the largest awnings in the paddock – among the drivers of its fleet of Golf GTIs are some rapid youngsters like Mini Champ Henry Gilbert (Leicester), scholarship winner David Sutton (Rotherham), and newcomers Tom Barley (Crayford) and Jorge Calado (St Neots), as well as experienced hands Andy Wilmot (Dartford) and Richard Kingsnorth (Colchester).
The other champion returning is 2008 and ’09 title winner Joe Fulbrook, and for the first time in his eight-year career Berkshire-based Joe will not be racing a Bora but a Golf GTI, prepared alongside the cars of Aaron Mason and Simon Tomlinson (Doncaster) under the AWM/Warranty Direct awning. Running with them in the team will be a famous name from bike racing, Josh Caygill (Netherton), who swaps to four wheels for the first time next weekend with a Golf GTI.
Oulton will also see the return of the fan-favourite Caddy van racer, now in the hands of novice Dave Garnsworthy (Dorchester). One of the Caddy’s former pilots, Peter Wyhinny, will be jetting in from Italy – where he has taken up a new role as boss of SEAT Italy – to campaign his Leon.
The venerable 1990s Corrado of Alex Dziurzynski (Bideford) will be making a welcome return to the fray as the oldest car in the field. Alex’s brother, Manchester-based Didge Dziurzynski, returns to the championship also with his Mk IV Golf GTI. Congleton’s Philip Morris and Manchester man Mark Clynes will be bidding against Didge for local honours in their Mk V Golfs.
With 15 examples expected in action at Oulton Park, the Golf GTI continues to be a championship mainstay. Brands Hatch 2012 race winner Jim Cartwright (Matlock) will drive his Coverworld Racing example, while Hertfordshire man Paul Dehadray - one of last year’s top rookies – will race his JWB-prepared GTI.
The Oulton Park races, which support the British GT Championship, are the first double-header event of the seven-meeting APR Volkswagen Racing Cup season. Further backing for the championship comes from ECM, CEVA, Hankook, Milltek, Paragon and Prestige Performance Centre.
A brand new Scirocco which will contest this season’s APR Volkswagen Racing Cup is one of the highlights of the Volkswagen Racing stand at the Autosport International show at Birmingham’s NEC this week. The SlideSports-prepared Scirocco will get its public unveiling on stand number 2552, where it will be displayed alongside an APR-tuned supercharged Audi R8. Volkswagen Racing and championship personnel will be on hand throughout the show to provide information and assistance for prospective competitors. Autosport International opens its doors to trade and competitors on Thursday and Friday (10/11 Jan) and to the public on Saturday and Sunday.
Please come and visit us!
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion James Walker put in a strong showing yesterday (Saturday) at the Hockenheimring in Germany when he contested the final round of the Scirocco R Cup – his prize for winning the British championship.
Despite unfamiliarity with the compressed natural gas-powered Scirocco used in the single-model series, Walker raced well against motorsport legends Frank Biela, Christian Danner, Markus Winkelhock and Emanuele Pirro to claim 22nd place at the German Grand Prix circuit.
Nottinghamshire-based Walker, 26, might have finished even higher up the order but for a penultimate-lap mishap: “I got up from 28th to 16th,” said James, “and then like an idiot I outbraked myself into the hairpin – the ABS came on and I went straight on and lost about seven places. I could easily have finished 15th or 16th, and was racing with Frank Biela all the way around, which was a lot of fun.
“It’s been awesome; what an experience. All I need to do now is to find someone with loads of money to sponsor me so that I can come back and do it next year.
“The German Scirocco is very, very different. I only had an hour in it, under pressure, to get to know it and it wasn’t nearly long enough. It’s so different that I had completely to forget how I drive my car at home, and just try to learn as fast as I could how to drive this one. It’s a totally different animal but a lot of fun once you get used to it.
“It was great to meet all those racing heroes: the way the championship is run out there is mind boggling. It’s a proper show.”
Walker finished only 36 seconds behind race victor and newly crowned Scirocco R Cup Champion Ola Nilsson and was seven seconds ahead at the line of a racing driver called Vettel – Norbert Vettel, father of double World Champion Sebastian, who was making his motorsport comeback after an 18-year lay-off.
Walker capped his frantic weekend with a dash back to the UK, where he was due on duty at church at his Godson’s christening.
His Hockenheim outing capped a superb season of racing for James: his Cooke and Mason-backed Scirocco carried him to two race victories in the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup; he clinched the championship title for the KPM team late last month at his home circuit of Donington Park. KPM team boss Kevin Poole and several team technicians made the trip to Germany to lend their support.
The APR Volkswagen Racing Cup enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon.
James Walker claimed overall championship victory in the 2012 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup in convincing style at Donington Park, the Nottinghamshire racer guiding his KPM-prepared Scirocco to a brace of podium finishes on his home circuit.
Walker’s results in the championship finale bring his tally of podium finishes for the season to an impressive 11, including two race wins. His prize for going one better than the second place overall he achieved in 2011 is a fully funded outing in the final round of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup at Hockenheim in Germany in mid-October.
The 25-year-old clinched the Cup in the first of the day’s races, in which he placed third behind Aaron Mason and Mike Neuhoff. Mason won again in the second race to clinch championship third, a few points behind Neuhoff.
“This means the world to me, it really does,” said Walker. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m really happy. All credit to KPM – they have done a brilliant job for me all season.”
KPM boss Kevin Poole paid tribute to his championship one-two drivers, Walker and Neuhoff: “I couldn’t have asked for two better guys to work with; they have both driven brilliantly all year and they deserve this success.”
On a weekend when the championship frontrunners did not enjoy the best of outings, two new names were added at Snetterton today to the roster of 2012 race winners in the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup. One was that of BTCC star Tom Onslow-Cole, who made a memorable debut in the series in a Scirocco R, and the other was Joe Fulbrook, the 2008 and ’09 champion, whose venerable Bora collected the 13th victory of its career.
With thunderstorms severely affecting Saturday’s track action at Snetterton, Racing Cup qualifying was postponed to Sunday morning and, in sunny and dry conditions, Joe Fulbrook collected his first pole of the season thanks to engine electronics work which appears to have cured his car’s season-long ills.
Onslow-Cole, who signed up to race a KPM Scirocco as practice for next weekend’s Snetterton BTCC rounds, was second fastest, 0.170s down on Fulbrook, with another championship debutant, 16-year-old Mini racer Henry Gilbert, a remarkable third in a Team HARD Golf GTI.
Under threatening skies and spots of rain the first of the day’s races suffered an aborted first start following a string of startline shunts. First to get squeezed into the barriers was young Gilbert, and he was followed in short order by the Golfs of Philip Morris and Nikhil Chopra; all three cars were eliminated from the weekend by the incidents, which necessitated a stoppage for barrier repairs.
The second start saw Fulbrook haring away from the pole once again, pursued by Onslow-Cole, who attacked several times around the twisty infield and again on to the Bentley Straight before finally finding a way around the Warranty Direct Bora through the Nelson right-hander.
Fulbrook chased for all he was worth, but with the race shortened to a 10-minute sprint following the stoppage, Joe had little time or opportunity to regroup and attack.
Behind the protagonists for the lead there was a three-way battle for third between Stewart Lines’ KPM Golf, Aaron Mason’s AWM Golf and championship leader James Walker’s KPM Scirocco. The fight was effectively settled in favour of Lines when Mason and Walker made contact, both suffering suspension damage which blunted their pace.
Onslow-Cole crossed the line 3.6 ahead of Fulbrook, with Lines third, a further six seconds adrift. Mason was just behind for fourth, with Walker dropping well back towards the end to collect fifth – his lowest finish of the season – ahead of the sister Scirocco of Craig Milner.
“It was a tough race,” said Onslow-Cole. “Joe was hard to get past and I couldn’t shake him off.”
“I think my car was quicker in a straight line,” added Fulbrook, “but Tom drove well and fair play to him for a good win. The Bora is going a lot better this weekend and handling well too.”
Richard Morgan’s SlideSports Golf GTI placed seventh, just ahead of the SEAT Leon Cupra of Peter Wyhinny, with Paul Dehadray ninth to score his best result of his rookie season and AWM’s Simon Tomlinson rounding out the top 10 in his Golf.
Jim Cartwright started 23rd in his Golf after a clash with another car in qualifying and battled through to 11th despite mismatched dampers, ahead of Jonathan Wilson in 12th. Wilson’s son, Tom, fell by the wayside early on in the restarted race with a puncture while holding sixth.
Championship second place man Mike Neuhoff took the opportunity during the race stoppage to switch to wet-weather tyres; alas for him the rains did not come until the slowing down lap; he finished 18th.
Another BTCC man making his Racing Cup debut was Rob Austin; his experience was not as profitable as Onslow-Cole’s and ended in retirement after only two laps with mechanical problems.
Fulbrook bounced back to take a fine win in the second race of the day at Snetterton as tyre choice proved crucial in difficult conditions. There was a rain shower before the off, but the track had started to dry as the cars made their way to the grid. The result was a mix of tyre choices, with most – including most of the KPM Racing squad – electing for wets while others gambled on slick rubber.
A great start from row two by Lines allowed him to take the lead, but he was soon under pressure from fellow wet-shod runner Onslow-Cole. The race one winner moved through from row three and took the lead at the end of the opening lap after Lines ran wide at Murrays.
Onslow-Cole’s KPM Scirocco edged away initially, but he was then quickly reeled in by those on more suitable rubber. First Mason went forward to challenge before Fulbrook and Tom Wilson moved to the front. Both had started on slicks, but whereas Fulbrook had bided his time in fourth in the opening laps, Wilson had been on a charge from row 10, a legacy of his first-race retirement.
Fulbrook’s Bora hit the front after four laps with Wilson’s Complete Racing Golf GTI closing in. The Westcountry youngster took the lead on the run to Riches at the start of lap six and looked in control as the duo quickly pulled away from the rest.
Fulbrook wouldn’t let Tom get away, though, and he retook the lead back with just over two laps to go. Wilson remained close, but the experienced Fulbrook held on to win by 0.464s. “It was a bit hairy to start with,” said the former champion. “That was hard going, but it was a matter of being patient, and they all kept getting slower. I really wanted to win and Tom’s good to race with.”
It was Fulbrook’s 13th championship race victory over an eight-season span, and Joe is now just one win behind Paul Taylor in the all-time rankings.
Wilson’s second place was his first podium finish, and it was agonisingly close to being a maiden win. “I was pretty certain about choosing slicks and I thought we would win, but Joe’s a good driver,” he said.
Almost half a minute behind came a tough battle for the final podium place. Mason and Onslow-Cole fought it out initially before Cartwright – after starting from row six on slicks – snatched third on the penultimate tour. “The front of the car got rearranged a little bit,” admitted Cartwright of the fierce scrapping. “There were bits of car everywhere, but it was an awesome race.”
Mason was fourth, just holding off Onslow-Cole by a tenth. Having fallen as low as sixth at one point with his worn wets, the BTCC driver managed to repass Lines for fifth on the last lap to complete a fine first weekend in the series.
Jonathan Wilson’s Complete Racing Scirocco wasn’t far behind sixth-placed Lines to collect his best finish of the year to date, while Neuhoff finished ninth, behind Craig Milner, from 18th on the grid. Wyhinny rounded out the top 10, ahead of Simon Andrews and championship leader Walker, who started on the front row but fell back straight away. Nonetheless, with only four races remaining, Walker maintains an 84-point championship lead.
The APR Volkswagen Racing Cup enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon. The championship returns to action next month on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup
Round 9 (of 14)
Snetterton 5 August 2012 5 laps = 14.84 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time
1 Tom ONSLOW-COLE New Malden Scirocco R 11m 03.841s / 80.50mph
2 Joe FULBROOK Maidenhead Bora 1.8T +3.603s
3 Stewart LINES Sutton Coldfield Golf GTI +9.145s
4 Aaron MASON Doncaster Golf GTI +9.692s
5 James WALKER Normanton Scirocco R +18.657s
6 Craig MILNER Matlock Scirocco R +22.833s
7 Richard MORGAN Chichester Golf GTI +25.566s
8 Peter WYHINNY Solihull SEAT Leon Cupra +25.980s
9 Paul DEHADRAY Tewin Golf GTI +31.260s
10 Simon TOMLINSON Doncaster Golf GTI +31.629s etc
Fastest lap Onslow-Cole 2m 10.482s / 81.91mph
9 laps = 26.72 miles
1 FULBROOK 20m 44.129s / 77.31mph
2 Tom WILSON Castle Combe Golf GTI +0.464s
3 Jim CARTWRIGHT Matlock Golf GTI +28.294s
4 MASON +34.901s
5 ONSOLOW-COLE +35.015s
6 LINES +39.523s
7 Jonathan WILSON Castle Combe Scirocco R +40.753s
8 MILNER +49.824s
9 Mike NEUHOFF Helmdon Golf GTI +55.451s
10 WYHINNY +58.005s etc
Fastest lap Tom Wilson 2m 13.821s / 79.86mph
SPA SERVES UP A FEAST OF VOLKSWAGEN RACING
The maiden visit of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup to an overseas Grand Prix circuit paid dividends with two superb races at the Belgian circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. There were wins for KPM’s Mike Neuhoff and Tony Gilham, returning to the championship with his own team’s Golf GTI, plus strong results for championship leader James Walker.
In addition to the racing the 21-strong field enjoyed plenty of what Europe’s motorsporting mecca is famous for, including a closed-road run into the nearby town of Stavelot for a town square display of their machinery.
Walker bagged his second pole position of the season, the KPM Scirocco driver eight-tenths faster around the Belgian Grand Prix circuit than his closest rival. Walker was the only man to break the 2m 51s barrier on the 7km circuit; his team-mate Neuhoff was second fastest in his Mk VI Golf GTI, with returning champion Tony Gilham third in his Mk V Golf.
Mason lined up fourth on the grid for the opening race, ahead of Stewart Lines and Tom Wilson, who bounced back after an early-session off at the Bus Stop chicane to post sixth quickest time. Tony Harberman was 10th fastest – a career best – in his Beetle.
The best circuit yet visited by the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup – said the drivers unanimously – provided the best racing of the season so far, with a four-way battle for victory, three different race leaders and a popular first win of 2012 for KPM’s Mike Neuhoff which went undecided until the final corner.
Pole man Walker led off the line in the Cooke and Mason Scirocco but he relinquished control to Neuhoff even before the first corner, La Source – “I snatched second gear too quickly,” conceded James. Walker slipped to third behind Aaron Mason, but seized second back from the AWM Golf driver on the run down to Double Gauche.
Neuhoff crossed the line at the end of the opening lap with half a second in hand over Walker, with Mason third from Lines, Gilham, Tom Wilson and Joe Fulbrook. Half a second’s advantage was not enough, as Mike discovered on the Kemmel straight on lap two as Walker slipstreamed past for the lead.
Lap three saw Neuhoff wrest the lead back from Walker, and then on lap four Mason began his charge, unseating Walker from second before taking the lead, and pushing Neuhoff back to third, next time around. Alas Aaron’s time on top was shortlived; engine problems brought his retirement on the sixth and penultimate lap. “It was a great shame,” said Mason. “The others’ tyres were gone and I was just ready to wind it up.”
Joker-playing Neuhoff, like most of the field a racing newcomer to Spa, held his nerve to regain second from Walker just after Mason’s Golf cried enough, and he crossed the line into the final lap with a second in hand over the Scirocco man. Gilham, having got the better of his fight with Lines and Wilson, was by now right with the leaders and gunning for glory; the BTCC man managed to unseat Walker from second but Neuhoff remained ahead at the chequered flag.
“I was getting rather miffed at having gone from first to third in quick time,” said Neuhoff, “and then I saw a spot of oil on my windscreen and it transpired that Aaron had a problem. He disappeared and that left me tailing James again. We had plenty of overtaking between the three of us all race, all good, clean fun – just fantastic. It’s very special to win at Spa. Having never raced here before I’m very happy; it’s such a wonderful circuit.”
Gilham was delighted with his second place, not least because he had missed much of qualifying after a mix-up over his race licence. “I was still signing on when the rest of them were out on the track. We did it the hard way; I lost the clutch and most of the brakes by mid-distance. I should have settled really, but I’m a racing driver and I wanted to push on and I nicked second. I’m in the Scholarship car, and it proves that we can build a good, competitive car.”
“It was a good race, wasn’t it?” said Walker. “My car was getting a bit tired towards the end, and I was pushing really hard because I didn’t want to be third – I’ve not finished lower than second before this year – and maybe I was over-driving it a bit.”
There were battles right through the field and a number of personal-best performances in addition. Tom Wilson placed fourth – equalling his best finish – in his battered Golf, after losing time to the leaders while embroiled with Gilham and Lines; the Wiltshire youngster finished 10s clear of Lines, whose fifth spot was a best-of-season finish, with Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon sixth.
Harberman followed up his excellent qualifying with a record-equalling seventh in the TGR Beetle after passing championship returnee Mark Howard’s Golf early on. “I had no brakes on the final lap,” said Tony, “which was a little too exciting.” Howard was eighth and the first SlideSports driver to finish, ahead of his team-mates Richard Morgan and Rob Daniels, subbing for the injured Kieran Griffin in the Addison Lee Scirocco.
Simon Andrews and Philip Morris duelled throughout the race, with Andrews’ Golf just ahead at the line, and their battle was joined on occasion by the Scirocco of Jonathan Wilson, 13th at the line to equal his top score.
Simon Tomlinson, Andy Wilmot, Richard Kingsnorth and Nikhil Chopra finished in line astern (Chopra’s 17th place a personal best for the 17-year-old rookie), with Fulbrook – his Warranty Direct Bora beset again by engine overheating problems – the final classified finisher. David Fairbrother’s Golf and Andrew Smith’s Beetle joined Mason in retirement.
Tony Gilham, the 2007 Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion, proved that he’s lost none of his old race-winning skills by claiming victory in Saturday’s round, pipping points leader James Walker to the win by less than a second after seven hard-fought laps around Spa.
Just as close and tense as Friday’s race, the Spa finale saw three different men out in front and multiple changes of the lead.
Stewart Lines led the way initially in his KPM-prepared Golf, the Sutton Coldfield man out-dragging pole-sitter Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon off the line to lead into La Source. Wyhinny clung to Lines’s tailgate on the opening lap but was demoted to fourth on lap two by both Walker and Gilham, who started P4 and P5 respectively.
Walker and Gilham saw to Lines on lap three to establish a 1-2, with BTCC man Tony making full use of the awesome Eau Rouge to pass his rival for the lead next time around. James battled back to the front only to be passed once more by Gilham, again through Eau Rouge. Tony, who was playing his points-doubling Joker card, was 0.878s clear of his rival at the flag.
“A fabulous race,” said Walker. “Great first couple of laps with everyone really battling hard. Then I managed to get away, got Stewart, who drove awesomely, and then Tony ended up coming through – I knew he would do. He’s got great pace, and I didn’t want to race him too hard because I’m thinking of the championship. He got me at Eau Rouge twice, which was a bit exciting. All in all, it’s been a great weekend.”
Added Gilham: “I felt I could possibly have got the win in race one but for being held up a bit, so I wanted to finish the second race on a high. It’s good to get the win and good to be back in the championship. It was a tough race. There’s room for two through Eau Rouge, so long as you are both committed and both sensible. We got through there twice side-by-side, and that’s quite an achievement in itself.”
Lines was in close attendance to collect his maiden Volkswagen Racing Cup podium finish. “I’m delighted,” said Stewart. “I’ve had such a bad year up to now. I let James and Tony through but hung on to them and, to be fair, I learned a lot from watching them.”
Stewart was joined in the closing laps by race one winner Mike Neuhoff, who started from P6. “I got caught up behind the battle for fourth between Peter Wyhinny and Tom Wilson for too long,” said Golf man Mike. “By the time I had made it past them the top three were too far up the road. Another couple of laps and it might have been a different story.”
Wilson’s Golf GTI battled past Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon for fifth on the third of the seven laps, the Wiltshireman collecting his sixth top-five result of the eight-race season, with Wyhinny in close attendance for another top-six finish.
Seventh looked to be going in the directi
Next Stop Spa-Francorchamps for the Volkswagen Racers
The APR Volkswagen Racing Cup will rack up another first with its maiden races at the world-renowned Belgian circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. The championship has twice visited Zandvoort in the Netherlands but has never before held rounds on an overseas Grand Prix circuit.
A field of 24 Volkswagens, plus one SEAT, is expected at Spa for what will be for most drivers a voyage into the unknown around the sweeping 7km track which nestles in the Ardennes forests.
Some have ventured to Belgium to test, but for 20-year-old Tom Wilson - currently third in the championship stakes – it will be in at the deep end. “I haven’t been to Spa to test,” said the Wiltshire-based driver, whose father, Jonathan, competes also. “In fact, I have never even seen the circuit, so it’s going to be pretty exciting. I know about it and have been watching videos to help me prepare; it’s going to be a good event and I am looking forward to it.
“We have been busy preparing the car, remapping the engine and rebuilding the suspension, and making sure that it’s all together properly so that we can continue to compete with the top five runners,” added the Complete Racing Golf GTI driver.
Wilson has enjoyed a remarkably competitive season so far in only his second full season of racing in the championship, with a fourth-place finish the highlight, as well as three fifths and a sixth.
“I know that I can do better. We have had problems recently with understeer and discovered after Rockingham that we had some cracks in the front suspension. We didn’t have the set-up right for Rockingham either, and that cost me time. My next target is the podium; I have been saying every weekend that this would be it, so hopefully I can do it at Spa.”
KPM’s Scirocco racer James Walker leads the field to Spa after race wins at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch. He is most closely pursued by AWM Motorsport’s Aaron Mason, whose Golf GTI won the opening round at Oulton and again last time out, at Rockingham.
Brands Hatch race two victor Jim Cartwright is expected on the grid in Belgium also in his KPM Golf, along with championship top 10 men Mike Neuhoff (KPM Golf), Joe Fulbrook (Warranty Direct Racing Bora), Richard Morgan (SlideSports Golf) and Richard Kingsnorth (Tony Gilham Racing Golf).
Spa’s long straights ought to favour the sleek Sciroccos of Walker, Jonathan Wilson, Kieran Griffin (SlideSports) and Craig Milner (KPM).
There will be KPM Golf GTIs in action also for Stewart Lines, Philip Morris, David Fairbrother and Cameron Thompson, as well as a strong Beetle contingent featuring Tony Harberman and Andrew Smith.
Promising rookie Nikhil Chopra joins Kingsnorth and Andy Wilmot in Gilham’s Golf-driving crew, with Paul Dehadray and Chris Levett completing the SlideSports Golf GTI squad.
Simon Tomlinson will partner Mason in the AWM team, with Simon Andrews hoping to get back on Brands Hatch form – he finished seventh in Kent – in his Warranty Direct Racing Golf GTI. Mark Howard returns to the championship with his Golf, and SEAT Director Peter Wyhinny completes the field with his KPM-prepared Leon Cupra.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup, whose title backer for 2012 is US Volkswagen group tuning giant APR, features 14 rounds over seven meetings between April and the end of September. The series enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon.
Provisional championship standings
1 James Walker / Scirocco R 298 points*
2 Aaron Mason / Golf GTI 226
3 Tom Wilson / Golf GTI 202
4 Mike Neuhoff / Golf GTI 188
5 Joe Fulbrook / Bora 1.8T 184
6 Jim Cartwright / Golf GTI 138 etc
*denotes Joker played
Spa-Francorchamps timetable (all times CET)
Thursday 5 July: 1120 & 1350 testing
Friday 6 July: 1325 qualifying, 1735 race 1
Saturday 7 July: 1610 race 2
As debut weekends go in the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup, they don’t come much better than that enjoyed by Jim Cartwright at Brands Hatch. The 23-year-old from Derbyshire scored a fifth-place finish yesterday (Saturday) in his first race in a front-wheel-drive car, and then followed that up with a resounding win today in his Golf GTI. Even better for his new team, he led home his team-mates James Walker and Mike Neuhoff for a KPM 1-2-3.
It was another thrilling race and one which a large and appreciative crowd at Brands Hatch – the Volkswagen Racing Cup was one of the supporting events on the German touring car championship bill – thoroughly enjoyed, with four different leaders and plenty of spectacular action, even though it had to be cut short by a couple of laps due to a pile-up.
With the top six from yesterday’s race reversed on the grid for today, it was 2005 Cup runner-up Shaun Hollamby who started from the pole in his AWM Golf, with Cartwright alongside and, in line astern, double champion Joe Fulbrook in his Bora, Kieran Griffin’s Scirocco, Neuhoff in the Mk VI Golf and round three victor Walker in the Cooke and Mason Scirocco.
Hollamby and Cartwright both made excellent starts to run side by side into Paddock Hill Bend but James slipped behind Fulbrook when he ran wide and brushed the edge of the gravel trap. Then Hollamby got out of shape through Graham Hill Bend and handed the lead to Fulbrook and then endured another lurid moment at Surtees and spun to the back of the field.
An incident-packed first lap was thus completed with Fulbrook leading Cartwright by a couple of tenths, chased by Neuhoff, Griffin and James Walker, and so the order stayed for a couple of laps until Neuhoff displaced Cartwright for second and Walker put his Scirocco ahead of that of Griffin.
At the front, Fulbrook was beginning to struggle. Plagued by engine problems throughout the weekend, Joe was rapidly gaining heat and losing power and had to cede the lead to Neuhoff on lap seven. Fulbrook slipped down the order before calling it a day after 12 laps.
Neuhoff had little time to enjoy his moment in the spotlight, however – Walker had by this time jumped past Cartwright at Paddock and was right on the Golf man’s tail. But James’s car had developed a bit of a problem: “My accelerator pedal dropped off on lap three,” he said, “and then the throttle started sticking, so every time I tried to brake the car was pushing forwards by itself.”
The issue proved Walker’s undoing when, after two laps behind him, Cartwright pounced through Surtees to regain second spot. By now, Neuhoff had a half-second lead but the rookie soon whittled that back and, on the 11th lap, snuck past for the lead through Graham Hill Bend.
Jim, who is more used to racing a classic Ferrari for the family team, quickly built a useful lead and romped home for a memorable victory. “I can’t believe my luck really after I nearly put it off at the first corner,” said the Matlock man. “I really love this racing, it’s a proper battle, and the car was great – KPM did a brilliant job for me.”
Neuhoff’s hopes of another second place on his birthday weekend were dashed by Walker on what turned out to be the penultimate lap when he passed his team-mate through Clearways. “It could have been better,” said Mike, “but I’ll take two podiums. I just really need to spend more time in the seat.”
Though the top three provided more than enough excitement, there were battles raging up and down the field and some great drives from the back of the grid from those who failed to finish yesterday, notably Richard Walker – father of championship leader James – who charged through from the 12th row of the grid to finish fourth on the road. Alas his progress was deemed a little too enthusiastic by the stewards, who docked him five seconds for not observing the track limits.
That promoted Tom Wilson to fourth in the race, and with it championship third, after another solid performance in the Complete Racing Golf GTI. Howard Fuller was another to go from the back, and he posted fastest lap of the race in his Tony Gilham Racing Golf on his way to sixth, ahead of Aaron Mason’s AWM Golf and another back-of-grid starter, Dominic Pettit in the Vindis Jetta.
Disabled driver Simon Andrews put on another impressive display in his Golf GTI to add ninth place today to the personal-best seventh he recorded on Saturday, with early spinner Hollamby recovering to 10th. Rookie Paul Dehadray was the leading SlideSports finisher in 11th after Griffin was forced to the pits from fourth spot after a clash with a back-marker; Kieran continued to finish 20th.
Richard Kingsnorth headed home his Tony Gilham Racing team-mate Andy Wilmot (whose car, like Fuller’s, had undergone a major overnight rebuild by the team) for 12th, with Tony Harberman 14th in his Beetle ahead of ex-bike racer David Fairbrother’s Golf.
The race was shortened by around three laps after a clash at the Druids hairpin between Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT and Richard Morgan’s Golf which left both men’s cars beached in the gravel trap and in a potentially dangerous position.
The APR Volkswagen Racing Cup enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon. The next rounds of the championship are in three weeks at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup
Round 4 (of 14)
Brands Hatch 20 May 2012 19 laps = 22.77 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time
1 James CARTWRIGHT Matlock Golf GTI 17m 23.178s / 78.59mph
2 James WALKER Normanton Scirocco R +1.738s
3 Mike NEUHOFF Helmdon Golf GTI +2.287s
4 Thomas WILSON Castle Combe Golf GTI +6.629s
5 Richard WALKER Tuxford Golf GTI +9.076s
6 Howard FULLER Worcester Park Golf GTI +11.375s
7 Aaron MASON Doncaster Golf GTI +12.957s
8 Dominic PETTIT Milton Jetta +13.116s
9 Simon ANDREWS Liphook Golf GTI +14.190s
10 Shaun HOLLAMBY Chelsfield Golf GTI +22.630s etc
Fastest lap Fuller 53.393s / 80.82mph
A 30-car field is expected at Brands Hatch in a few days when the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup takes to the track for one of its biggest-ever weekends, supporting the world-famous DTM, the German touring car championship.
The attraction of competing on the 1.2-mile Brands Indy circuit at a blue riband race meeting has resulted in a number of old and new faces joining the championship to compete alongside the 25 who started the season last month at Oulton Park.
The already large KPM team is to expand yet further, with classic Ferrari racer James Cartwright set to make his modern saloons debut at the wheel of the ex-Peter Felix Golf GTI. Derbyshire-based 23-year-old James is more used to handling a Ferrari 328 in the Ferrari Formula Classic series, in which he competes alongside his father, classic Ferrari dealer Nick Cartwright, and brother Benjamin. “I bought the Golf for myself,” said Nick, “but I decided that at my age I ought to be encouraging Jamie’s career.”
Truck racing champion Richard Walker, a race winner in a Golf GTI at Brands in 2007, returns to the championship this weekend with KPM, while former motocross racer turned Golf GTI racer Stewart Lines moves across to KPM for Brands Hatch, joining the squad’s championship top-10 men James Walker, Craig Milner, Mike Neuhoff, Philip Morris and Cameron Thompson, as well as series guest driver Peter Wyhinny in his SEAT Leon and ex-Superbike racer David Fairbrother.
Scirocco driver James Walker – Richard’s son – jointly shares the championship lead with AWM Motorsport Golf GTI pilot Aaron Mason. At Oulton Park, Mason won the first of the two wet races, hounded home by the battle-scarred KPM Scirocco of Walker, James having miraculously survived being punted nose-first into the barriers away from the startline. Walker battled back up the field to second and might have challenged Mason for the win but for a slow puncture in the closing laps. Walker got his revenge to win round two, with Mason second to level the points.
“It was a good day at Oulton, in all fairness,” said James. “If I had been driving a Golf I don’t think it would have survived that first-corner incident. I have to thank KPM for building me such a strong car. Now I am really looking forward to Brands Hatch – I’m just excited to be there with the German touring cars; they have some good drivers and some fantastic cars. I’m going to be more of a spectator than a racing driver this weekend, I think.”
In common with many in the field, Walker has limited experience of the Indy circuit at Brands. “I went there five or six years ago with my Caterham and was quickest in practice, but then I wrote it off at the end of the session and didn’t make the race. Hopefully that won’t happen again; I’d like to be up at the front and maybe bag a couple of podium finishes.”
Walker and Mason have clearly established themselves as the drivers to watch in title terms, but there are plenty of other pretenders to the throne. Two of the youngest drivers in the field are 21-year-old Dominic Pettit, who raced to third in round one on his debut in the Vindis-backed Jetta, and 20-year-old Tom Wilson, whose Complete Racing Golf collected a brace of fifth-place finishes.
They are not the youngest men in the field, however – that honour goes to Hainault’s Nikhil Chopra, who celebrates his 17th birthday this weekend. Nikhil’s R32 Golf is prepared in the Dartford workshops of Prestige Performance Centre, with local BTCC hero Tony Gilham overseeing the youngster’s track tuition. Dartford Golf GTI driver Andy Wilmot was another who made his Racing Cup debut at Oulton Park under Gilham’s wing.
Another returnee to the series this weekend is former T-Cars and Formula Palmer Audi star Howard Fuller, who raced to victory on his VW Cup debut at Rockingham in 2010. Fuller will drive a Tony Gilham Racing Golf, as will Richard Kingsnorth.
Oulton’s other podium finisher was Joe Fulbrook, the 2008 and ’09 champion, whose Warranty Direct-backed Bora Turbo, now one of the oldest cars on the grid, proved it still has the legs to keep up with the newcomers.
The championship’s paddock camaraderie attracts a wide cross-section of competitors; a trend in recent seasons has been the arrival of a number of former bike racers keen to maintain a competitive edge. These include Lines, who competed at Grand Prix and European Championship level in motocross; ex-Superbike star Fairbrother; ex-racer and West Sussex-based motorcycle dealer Richard Morgan; and Milner, who was a bike-racing champion in the 1990s. There is a famous truck racer on the grid also in the shape of Golf GTI racer Chris Levett.
The championship nurtures novices, too: Simon Andrews and Morris started their track careers in the series in 2010 and, despite both men being disabled, have flourished. Morris holds seventh in the championship currently, just ahead of Wilmot, Pettit and Thompson. This year’s crop of racing novices include Jonathan (father of Tom) Wilson, Chopra, Paul Dehadray and Simon Tomlinson.
Diversity of model is another facet of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup. Joining the prolific Golf GTI Mk Vs this season is a MK VI for former champion Neuhoff, Sciroccos for Walker, Milner, Kieran Griffin (who won at Brands last season) and Wilson Snr. There are Beetles seen in the hands of Tony Harberman, Robin Riley and Andrew Smith, not forgetting Pettit’s Jetta and Wyhinny’s Leon, and the SlideSports Golf GTI of Mark Clynes.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup, whose title backer for 2012 is US Volkswagen group tuning giant APR, features 14 rounds over seven meetings, one of them at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The series enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon.
Provisional championship standings
1= Aaron Mason / Golf GTI 86 points
1= James Walker / Scirocco R 86
3= Joe Fulbrook / Bora 1.8T 72
3= Tom Wilson / Golf GTI 72
5= Craig Milner / Scirocco R 60
5= Richard Morgan / Golf GTI 60
7= Mike Neuhoff / Golf GTI 56
7= Philip Morris / Golf GTI 56
9 Andy Wilmot / Golf GTI 52
10= Dominic Pettit / Jetta Sport 38
10= Cameron Thompson / Golf GTI 38 etc
A brace of dramatic opening rounds at Oulton Park – contested by a field of 25 cars – kicked off the new season of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup in style at Oulton Park.
Despite the worst the Easter Bank Holiday Monday weather could throw at proceedings, both races were incident-packed thrillers. Aaron Mason and James Walker shared the spoils and leave Cheshire in joint possession of the championship lead.
A dramatic first-corner clash, which involved both pole man Mason and Walker, and several others, marred the start of Round 1. It was triggered when Cambridgeshire youngster Dominic Pettit made a slightly better getaway from second on the grid in his Vindis-backed Jetta to overhaul the AWM Golf GTI of Doncaster driver Mason on the run towards Old Hall. Mason and Pettit made contact, and then Mason and Walker were in collision, Nottinghamshire driver James then clouting the barriers in his new KPM Scirocco.
Amazingly Walker bounced off the barriers and back on to the track, pointing more or less in the right direction, and was able to get going again in seventh. Alas his return to the track triggered a chain reaction which saw the Golf of 16-year-old Nikhil Chopra and the Scirocco of Kieran Griffin in collision. Chopra was able to get going again but Griffin’s race ended against the barriers, with the safety car called into play while the debris was cleared.
Undeterred by the bumps and bruises, Mason regained the lead from Pettit on the opening lap, before the safety car started its three-lap procession period. Mason looked in no danger of losing his advantage after the restart until a fired-up Walker and his battle-scarred Cooke and Mason-backed Scirocco appeared in his mirrors on lap five, James having battled past Joe Fulbrook’s Bora, Peter Wyhinny’s Leon and Pettit on the way through to second.
James and his KPM-prepared machine hunted down Mason until two laps from the end, when a slow puncture slowed his progress. Aaron was 10s clear at the flag, and said: “It was a bit of a rough start – I got squeezed a bit by both James and Dominic – but it was OK after that until James came back at me a bit strong.”
Walker added: “I made a fairly decent start and was carrying on in a straight line, and then the next thing I know I am heading towards the barriers. I managed to get going again and just kept pushing until the tyre started to go down. I can’t complain – second is a good result for the opening round.”
Pettit came under heavy pressure in the late stages from his KPM running mate Wyhinny, the latter making a strong return to racing after 10 months away. Dominic was just a tenth clear of the SEAT UK boss at the line.
Last season’s top rookie, Tom Wilson, was an encouraging fifth in his Complete Racing Golf (with his racing novice dad, Jonathan, claiming 19th on his track debut), with Fulbrook sixth with handling woes.
Mike Neuhoff, the 2001 champion, showed few signs of rustiness, qualifying his KPM Mk VI Golf seventh and battling back to that position after slipping to 10th on the opening lap, claiming fastest lap along the way. Craig Milner’s new Scirocco carried him to eighth, ahead of championship newcomer Andy Wilmot and fellow Golf men Richard Morgan, Philip Morris and Cameron Thompson.
There were good drives from several racing rookies in addition to Jonathan Wilson: Paul Dehadray placed 13th, one spot ahead of ex-Superbike racer David Fairbrother, with Simon Tomlinson 20th and Chopra 21st.
Round 2 was no less dramatic, with Pettit making an extraordinary start from fourth on the grid to drive around the outside of everyone into Old Hall to nose his Jetta ahead. Dominic’s glory was shortlived, however: Mason demoted him to second before the lap’s end and then Pettit slithered into the Shell Oils Corner gravel trap on lap two.
A brief safety car period allowed Walker’s Scirocco, well patched up between races, to pounce at the restart and demote Fulbrook from second. A string of fastest laps from James brought him close to leader Mason, and he made his move for the lead on the seventh lap at the Shell hairpin, Aaron having to give best to his rival: “James had better pace in that race,” he said, “perhaps because I used the same wet tyres all day – a new set might have helped. However, overall it’s been a good day and I’m not disappointed.”
“That was a really good, clean race,” said Walker. “I had a good battle with Aaron and managed to find a way past at Shell. A first and a second from the opening weekend of the season is a great result and I’m very pleased.”
Like Pettit in race one, third-placed Fulbrook felt heavy late-race pressure from determined SEAT driver Wyhinny: “I saw him coming but managed to stay ahead, just,” said Joe. “Peter drove very well, all credit to him. My old car is showing its age a bit now and we have struggled with the set-up today; some changes we made worked and some didn’t.”
As in race one Wyhinny was followed to the flag by Wilson Jnr, with Morgan sixth to record his best-yet result in the championship. Morris’s seventh was a personal best also, the FUCHS Lubricants-backed driver racing home ahead of Milner and Griffin, whose heavily repaired SlideSports Scirocco had had to start from the back of the grid. Truck racer Chris Levett took 10th ahead of Wilmot, Neuhoff, championship returnee Richard Kingsnorth and the Beetle of Tony Harberman who, like Levett, had started from the back after a first-race off.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup – whose new title backer for 2012 is US Volkswagen group tuning giant APR – features 14 rounds over seven meetings, one of them at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The series enjoys additional support from Ceva, ECM, Eibach, Hankook, Milltek Sport and Paragon.
Images for download flickr.com/photos/imagevaults/sets/72157629415071034/
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup
Round 1 (of 14)
Oulton Park 9 April 2012 9 laps = 24.23 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time
1 Aaron MASON Doncaster Golf GTI 20m 58.879s / 69.28mph
2 James WALKER Normanton Scirocco R +10.167s
3 Dominic PETTIT Milton Jetta Sport +10.585s
4 Peter WYHINNY Solihull SEAT Leon Cupra +10.746s
5 Thomas WILSON Castle Combe Golf GTI +16.867s
6 Joe FULBROOK Maidenhead Bora +17.386s
7 Mike NEUHOFF Helmdon Golf GTI +22.353s
8 Craig MILNER Matlock Scirocco R +36.824s
9 Andy WILMOT Dartford Golf GTI +42.154s
10 Richard MORGAN Chichester Golf GTI +47.975s
Fastest lap Neuhoff 2m 08.602s / 75.35mph
Round 2, 9 laps = 24.23 miles
1 WALKER 20m 39.204s / 70.38mph
2 MASON +1.205s
3 FULBROOK +20.096s
4 WYHINNY +20.584s
5 WILSON +24.355s
6 MORGAN +28.188s
7 Philip MORRIS Congleton Golf GTI +31.819s
8 MILNER +32.538s
9 Kieran GRIFFIN Essendon Scirocco R +33.183s
10 Chris LEVETT Bromsgrove Golf GTI +35.914s
Fastest lap Walker 2m 04.665s / 77.73mph
Full TSL results sheetshttp://bit.ly/f3_opk
On TV 28 April Motors TV 1025
Provisional championship standings
=1 Mason & Walker 86 points; =3 Fulbrook & Wilson 72; =5 Milner & Morgan 60; =7 Neuhoff & Morris 56; 9 Wilmot 52; =10 Pettit & Cameron Thompson 38 etc.
Next rounds 19/20 May Brands Hatch
Acid test for the new Polo R WRC: Volkswagen factory driver Sébastien Ogier and the former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz put the Polo for the World Rally Championship (WRC) to a tough test in Spain. The two rally aces – Ogier is seen by many experts as future world rally champion, Sainz, with two title wins and 26 rally victories is one of the most successful drivers in WRC history – covered around 700 kilometres, equating to about twice the distance of a WRC rally, without any problem in order to take new vehicle components to their stress and load limits and to thus gather important findings for the further development. Volkswagen will be making its debut in the World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC in 2013 and is running an extensive testing and development programme until then.
“Around 70 per cent of the WRC consists of gravel tracks, about 20 per cent of asphalt and roughly 10 per cent of ice and snow. The gravel test in Spain served to simulate the roughest WRC sections and to take the car to its load and stress limits. Particularly chassis components such as the hub carriers, dampers and suspension components were successfully tested in the limit range,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.
“Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Ogier are working together extremely well – the two are forming a very good combination. They respect each other without any rivalry and are purposefully driving the project forwards. Our next step will be to run further tests on tarmac in order to complete our specifications book and to then check off each item on the list.”
On narrow, winding gravel tracks near Almería in the south of Spain Sébastien Ogier together with co-driver Julien Ingrassia (F) were initially in the cockpit of the near-300-HP Polo R WRC. “For us, it was mainly about driving this car on as many kilometres as possible on very hard ground. In parallel, we made a few minor changes to the setup in order to pick up speed step by step,” explained 28-year-old Ogier. On the third day, Carlos Sainz shortly sat in the co-driver’s seat. “Of course that was a surprise – ten years ago, I dreamt that it would be exactly the other way around,” said Ogier with a grin. “But seriously, his experience and his input are extremely valuable to us.” Sainz, who drove his last WRC rally in 2005, then switched to Volkswagen and won the 2010 Dakar Rally in the Race-Touareg, wanted to gain an impression of the handling characteristics of the newly developed all-wheel vehicle on gravel this way and to acquire the necessary driving style.
“During my active days I drove thousands of test kilometres and hope to be able to support Volkswagen with my experience,” said the 49-year-old Spaniard who subsequently took the wheel himself and was navigated by Timo Gottschalk. “I have a lot of confidence in the squad and the Polo R WRC will no doubt be a big hit. But we mustn’t forget that 2013 will be the Polo’s first year in the WRC whereas the competition will have been active there for many years,” said Sainz.
Sébastien Ogier, who will contest the WRC from 2013 for Volkswagen, demonstrated his outstanding driving abilities during the live broadcast on SAT.1 and inspired around 40,000 enthusiastic spectators in the Arena in Düsseldorf. During the competition staged between the world’s best drivers, Volkswagen’s new rally star was the fastest in the field comprised of Formula 1 World Champions Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button as well as DTM Champions Martin Tomczyk, Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström and other motorsport greats. Among the race cars used for the Race Of Champions were the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup, Audi R8 LMS and the rally Skoda Fabia S2000.
Sébastien Ogier: “My first outing in Volkswagen overalls and this in Germany and then victory in the Race Of Champions – I’m absolutely delighted. They were exciting races against fantastic opponents. It’s not easy for a newcomer to master the many different cars and the track, but I had a good feeling from the word go. It was a great honour for me to be invited for the first time to participate in the Race Of Champions. My thanks also go to the fans that made the atmosphere electric.” Even the beaten Kristensen admitted afterwards: “Sébastien really impressed me and he certainly has a big future ahead of him in rallying with Volkswagen.”
“The entire Volkswagen team is proud of our new Champion and is delighted with Sébastien about this magnificent win. It’s obviously fantastic that Ogier has won the first prestigious title for Volkswagen only two weeks after his signing. And this against a line-up of such high quality,” praised Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen.
Twin races at the exciting Belgian Grand Prix circuit of Spa-Francorchamps have been added to the Volkswagen Racing Cup calendar for the forthcoming season.
The championship has been invited to make its first visit to Spa by Volkswagen Belgium, sponsor of the annual 25-hour Fun Cup race which will headline the 6/7 July event. The addition of the two Belgian races completes the provisional calendar for the 2012 Volkswagen Racing Cup, which will comprise 14 races spread over seven meetings.
Championship manager Sam Roach of Volkswagen Racing UK says the Spa races will be popular: “The Volkswagen Racing Cup competitors thoroughly enjoyed their first overseas visits in 2010 and ’11, to Zandvoort, and I know that they will be blown away by the opportunity to compete at the best circuit in the world at what will be a large and popular event. It’s great news and a real honour for the championship to have been invited.”
The championship’s six other meetings offer the cream of UK race dates – a supporting slot alongside the German touring cars at Brands Hatch in May as well as British F3 and GT dates at Oulton Park, Rockingham, Snetterton, Donington and on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.