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VWR heads to Spa.
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