Jamie Perry ‘s Golf GTI vs. Steve Chaplin’s Beetle RSI
Thruxton race winners Paul Taylor and Jamie Perry repeated their Volkswagen Racing Cup victory parades yesterday (Sunday) at Brands Hatch, becoming the first men this season to score a third victory in the Hankook-backed championship. But Joe Fulbrook finished both Brands Hatch races near the front to maintain his healthy overall series lead and to set the scene for a fascinating close to the season.
Taylor’s win came in the day’s opener and was as lucky as it was impressive, for the Hertfordshire driver’s Golf R32 finished with a broken suspension strut and the car was lucky even to make the end of the race. Taylor, the 2006 champion, started from pole position, ahead of Fulbrook’s Bora Turbo, Steve Chaplin’s ‘Herbie’ Beetle RSI and Perry’s Golf GTI, and pulled cleanly away to establish a commanding early lead.
As his rivals squabbled over second, Taylor eased his advantage out to around four seconds and maintained that gap to the chequered flag, where he reaped a double helping of points thanks to playing his ‘Joker’ card. ‘That was really good,’ said Taylor, who had never won at Brands before. ‘My car is carrying less success ballast than the others, and that helped, as did the fact that the other guys were fighting among themselves.’
It was certainly an entertaining battle for second: Perry held sway initially but found his chances hampered by poor handling as the race progressed. Chaplin found a way past the wayward Golf on the seventh of the 12 laps and eased away in the closing stages to secure runner-up spot and this third podium finish in as many meetings.
Perry tried ‘everything in the book’ to keep Fulbrook at bay and secure third for himself, and succeeded, even though Joe felt his car had superior pace: ‘It’s very difficult to pass cleanly here,’ he said, ‘and Jamie wasn’t going to make it easy for me.’
Michael McInerney enjoyed a superb run in the Europcar Golf, from 13th on the grid to fifth at the chequered flag, his cause aided by a number of incidents and excursions for his rivals, which included a fiery exit for Adrian Dziurzynski’s Golf GTI after it leaked power steering fluid on to the exhaust, and a collision between the Golfs of Mike Kurton and John Quartermaine, which ended the former’s race and dropped Quartermaine down the order.
Paul Lloyd-Roach was another to score his best result of the season, in sixth ahead of Giles Lock’s Caddy, Steve Dorrell’s Beetle, Quartermaine and Chris Adams in the Golf TDI 4motion. Richard Kingsnorth returned to the championship at the wheel of a Golf R32; teething problems left him struggling for pace and he placed 11th, ahead of the Beetles of Dutch driver Peter Lettinga and Nick Dunn.
Autocar’s Jamie Corstophine thoroughly enjoyed his first race outing in a decade at the wheel of the new Jetta TSI Sport, though a brief pit stop to investigate a misfire delayed him.
Taylor’s luck in winning race one with a broken suspension strut was brought home to him on the opening lap of the second event when the strut on the opposite side of his Golf snapped and rendered his car undrivable. Paul had made an excellent start to slot into second place, behind Perry, who had made an even quicker getaway, and had been set to duel with him for the lead.
Perry was on a mission this time: ‘I knew I had to get straight off the line and go straight to the finish of the race without lifting, and that’s what I did!’ By the end of the opening lap Jamie’s Keith Garages-backed Golf was more than four seconds ahead of Fulbrook’s Bora.
Chaplin liberated third from pole position man Lloyd-Roach on the second lap and was quick to set about Fulbrook for second. For lap after lap they circulated as if tied together by a short piece of elastic, with Fulbrook this time revelling in his role as defender. Though he could do nothing to stop Perry recording his third win of the season, Fulbrook had no intention of losing second: ‘Steve and I had a great battle. It’s fantastic to race with a guy who you can trust not to do anything silly. We respect each other’s driving and it makes the racing all the better.’
Chaplin finished two-tenths behind Fulbrook for third and was a long way clear of fourth-placed Lloyd-Roach, who recorded another personal best for the season. Kurton made up for his first-race disappointments with fifth place, ahead of Adams, Dorrell, Lettinga and Dunn. Corstophine drove superbly for a relative rookie to bring the Jetta home 10th.
Kieran Griffin, deputising for his brother, championship regular Liam, drove his Golf GTI to 11th, which made up for retirement in race one with brake problems. Kieran finished ahead of Lock, Kingsnorth and Dziurzynski, who was delayed by a visit to the Druids hairpin gravel trap.
It was an agonising weekend for Caddy TDI driver Peter Wyhinny, whose first race ended with a total loss of power on the opening lap, and whose run to fifth on the road in race two ended in exclusion from the results following a collision with McInerney’s Golf.
With four races remaining, the Volkswagen Racing Cup looks set for a grandstand finish. On paper Fulbrook holds a commanding points lead but Joe has scored well in every race so far and will have to discard his worst result, while Taylor and Perry both have a zero score on their record. And Perry is the only driver in the top four yet to play his Joker.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook is additionally supported by Augustus Martin, Castrol, Ceva Logistics, ECM Vehicle Delivery, Milltek Sport, Mondial Assistance, KW Automotive, Superchips, Turbo Dynamics, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Financial Services UK.”