Multiple sports car race winner Dominic Pettit is the latest addition to the burgeoning APR Volkswagen Racing Cup grid. The 21-year-old from Cambridgeshire will race a Jetta with backing from his local Volkswagen retailer Vindis Group.
Pettit’s confirmation swells the grid for Easter Monday’s (7 April) opening rounds to an anticipated 24, confirming the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup as the best-supported junior saloons series in the UK.
Dominic has been itching to get into the Volkswagen Racing Cup since his fairytale debut in the series at Brands Hatch in 2010, when he raced a rented Golf GTI to second place. Milton-based Pettit started competing as a 15-year-old in Ginetta Juniors, winning the sports car maker’s Junior Festival in 2006; last year he won nine times from 10 starts in the Ginetta Challenge.
“I have always wanted to be in the Volkswagen Racing Cup but have never had the budget to be able to compete,” said Dominic. “Now Vindis has stepped in to help me and I am so grateful – hopefully I can repay the company’s faith in me with some good results.”
Family-owned Vindis has retail outlets across the east of England representing Volkswagen and its sister brands. Vindis’ operations director Jamie Vindis said: “We were keen to get involved and help Dominic. He lives in our area and is clearly a very accomplished driver – it’s always good to support local talent and it felt like a very good fit for Vindis.”
Pettit’s Jetta is being race-prepared by Kevin Poole’s KPM team – the biggest team in the championship, with eight cars this season. KPM will also field the new Sciroccos of former bike-racing champion Craig Milner and 2011 championship runner-up James Walker, as well as a host of Golfs.
With double champion Steve Chaplin seeking fresh motorsport challenges, the way looks clear for the driver of a Scirocco to take the crown for the first time, although there is a gaggle of Golf GTI drivers on the grid looking to repeat Tony Gilham’s 2007 championship win, the last for a Golf driver.
Heading the Golf brigade is AWM Motorsport’s Aaron Mason, a four-time race winner in 2011 on his way to championship third. There are Mk V GTIs also for former motocross champion Stewart Lines, last year’s top rookie, Tom Wilson, and the championship’s two disabled pilots, Simon Andrews and Philip Morris. Returning 2001 title winner Mike Neuhoff will race the latest Mk VI Golf GTI, and there will be Mk Vs for returnees Richard Morgan and Cameron Thompson and series newcomers David Fairbrother, Paul Dehadray and Simon Tomlinson.
Tony Gilham is not planning on racing at Oulton Park himself, but the BTCC ace’s new team will be there, and will be fielding GTIs this season for Andy Wilmot and Richard Kingsnorth.
The Scirocco contingent doubles from two to four for 2012, with last year’s Brands Hatch race winner Kieran Griffin returning in the Addison Lee-backed car, and newcomer Jonathan Wilson – father of Tom – joining the fray with the ex-Mike Kurton Scirocco.
The 2008 and ’09 Champion, Joe Fulbrook, is to return with the Bora he has raced in the series every season since his motorsporting debut in 2005, and there will be a bevy of Beetles on track also, in the hands of Tony Harberman, Robin Riley and diesel-powered Andrew Smith. The youngest driver on the grid, 16-year-old novice Nikhil Chopra, will pilot the only four-wheel-drive R32 Golf in the field, with SEAT boss Peter Wyhinny completing the diversity of the grid with his Leon Cupra.
Sam Roach of Volkswagen Racing UK says the grid is an impressive and healthy one: “It is an early start to the season this year so it is gratifying that so many drivers have made the effort to get their programmes rolling in time. There are new cars and many new faces, so it all bodes well for a fantastic season of competition.”
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.
APR Volkswagen Racing Cup – provisional entries
Simon Andrews - Golf GTI Mk V Nikhil Chopra - Golf R32 / Prestige Performance Paul Dehadray - Golf GTI Mk 5 / Slidesports David Fairbrother - Golf GTI Mk V / KPM Joe Fulbrook - Bora Kieran Griffin - Scirocco R / Slidesports Tony Harberman - Beetle RSI Richard Kingsnorth - Golf GTI Mk V / Tony Gilham Racing With Hard Stewart Lines - Golf GTI Mk V Aaron Mason - Golf GTI Mk V / Awm Craig Milner - Scirocco R / KPM Richard Morgan - Golf GTI Mk V Philip Morris - Golf GTI Mk V / KPM Mike Neuhoff - Golf GTI Mk Vi / KPM Dominic Pettit - Jetta Sport / KPM Robin Riley - Beetle RSI Andrew Smith - Beetle TDI / Vis-Tuning Cameron Thompson - Golf GTI Mk V / KPM Simon Tomlinson - Golf GTI Mk V / AWM James Walker - Scirocco R / KPM Andy Wilmot - Golf GTI Mk V / Tony Gilham Racing With Hard Jonathan Wilson - Scirocco R / Complete Racing Thomas Wilson - Golf GTI Mk V / Complete Racing Peter Wyhinny - Seat Leon Cupra / KPM