Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants newcomer Howard Fuller enjoyed a memorable category debut at Rockingham over the weekend, the Surrey 17-year-old taking a hard-earned victory during Sunday’s sixth round of the season.
Beginning the event strongly with a fine seventh place result in round five on Saturday, Fuller – who normally competes in the Formula Palmer Audi single-seater championship – made a major impression on the ranks of the VW Cup with a four second winning margin during the second encounter.
Notable for a string of incidents which accounted for the demise of several front-runners, including round five winner and current championship leader Steve Chaplin, who was forced into retirement on lap seven, the outcome to Sunday afternoon’s race certainly couldn’t have been predicted.
Half a dozen drivers held the lead at some point during the first half of the race but by staying out of trouble as others fell by the wayside, Fuller managed to move to the front, past James Walker, at the start of lap nine and subsequently pulled clear from the chasing pack in his RacingLine-run Golf GTI.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more this weekend, it’s been absolutely perfect,” said Fuller. “Finishing seventh in the first race was good and then in race two, I came through cleanly without any contact, which was great. I was a bit lucky with some of the guys at the front going off but everything worked well for us. It’s been an absolutely perfect debut, I’m so pleased.”
The older of the Walker siblings, Daniel, started round six on pole position in his Golf, alongside the Scirocco of Michael Kurton, but as the lights went out Paul Taylor made one of his customary electric getaways at the wheel of his R32 Golf and he rocketed into an early lead from third.
Kurton initially edged ahead of Walker too off the line but yards later his car stuttered and almost ground to a halt. Dropping to the fringe of the top 10, Kurton mounted an excellent recovery. However, contact late-on resulted in a post-race exclusion from sixth place.
For the first five laps Taylor led as Peter Felix – who was fourth on the grid in his Golf – fought hard over second place with James Walker, the latter enjoying an exceptional opening lap to climb from 13th place into the lead bunch.
Lap six marked the start of Taylor’s drop down the order. First, Felix made his way into the lead and Taylor then came to grief at Tarzan the next time around with a spin as he entered the hairpin, having already lost out to James Walker at Pif-Paf a couple of corners earlier.
His costly moment also led to the enforced retirement of Chaplin, who couldn’t avoid the spinning R32. Taylor looked set to finish sixth in the end but managed to gain a place at the expense of Kurton’s stricken, and soon to be excluded, car on the final tour.
On lap eight at Brook, the lead changed hands again when a moment for Felix allowed James Walker and Fuller to go through. Fuller benefited from a good slipstream around the oval banking though and made his move to grab first place into Deene.
With just a handful of laps remaining, the all-action encounter finally settled down and Fuller – who quietly made his way through the top order from seventh on the starting grid – pulled away to a winning margin of 3.7 seconds.
Felix took second, James Walker was third, and an incredibly well deserved fourth went the way of SEAT Cars UK Director Peter Wyhinny, who delivered a sensational drive from 24th on the grid in his Leon.
Following Kurton’s exclusion, category debutant Martyn Walsh took sixth behind Taylor with an excellent drive, the 40-year-old businessman capping off a superb maiden weekend of racing in which he also finished inside the top 10 in round five.
Sam Edwards was seventh after mounting his own tremendous recovery from 20th place, following a spin on the run to Yentwood on lap two. Golf driver Paul Wyhinny, meanwhile, took eighth ahead of the Caddy Van of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK Director Simon Elliott – the latter producing a great effort from the 11th row of the grid – and Daniel Walker.
Zandvoort race winner Aaron Mason was the final classified finisher, a lap down, as a result of a lengthy pit stop which was required following a dramatic lock-up under braking at Deene on the sixth lap while dicing in the lead quartet.
Although Chaplin’s points lead was hit with his round six retirement, the Beetle RSI driver made sure of a healthy gap back to his pursuers with a superb win during round five on Saturday afternoon.
Playing his ‘Joker’ before the first race to maximise his potential score, Chaplin became the first double winner of the 2010 season, but he had to work very hard to keep Mason at bay, Aaron taking a close second. Felix rounded out the podium just half a second clear of Taylor.
Round five unfortunately had to be halted early on following a multi-car tangle at Turn One of the banked oval. The incident resulted in a heavy impact with the concrete wall for Martyn Culley, but he thankfully walked away from the accident unscathed.
Also caught up in the lap one problems were Darren Blumson, Peter Wyhinny and the luckless Andrew Smith. After driveshaft problems prevented him from setting a time in qualifying, Smith was taken out in the lap one incident during Saturday’s race which also meant he didn’t start race two either.
Taylor shot into an early lead at the restart, from the third row of the grid, and although almost losing the place to pole-sitter Chaplin at Deene he just held on and proceeded to build a reasonable gap of just over a second.
Chaplin began to eat into Taylor’s advantage from lap four onward and, on the sixth tour out of Tarzan, the Beetle driver got alongside the Golf and made the pass cleanly into Brook Chicane.
Taylor tried to go with Chaplin and remained close behind but into Deene on lap seven, a look up the inside didn’t pay off and the subsequent delay on the exit of the turn allowed Mason to pass Taylor for second into Yentwood.
Chaplin and Mason – who posted a new lap record – then began to pull clear of third placed Taylor over the remaining three laps, building a cushion of five seconds, but the fight for the final podium spot wasn’t over and on the final tour Felix produced a good move into Tarzan to usurp Taylor.
Kurton finished in fifth ahead of Daniel Walker, the Golf driver lucky not to lose a place on the last lap after outbraking himself at Deene while challenging for fifth. Fuller took seventh in his first VW Cup race and Edwards rounded out the highly competitive top eight.
Chaplin said: “It was a tense race. At the restart I thought the weather might come in as there were a few spits of rain and then Paul [Taylor] made a good start, as he always does. When I got ahead I had to think defensively too with Aaron [Mason] not far behind. It was a tough race, Aaron pushed me hard towards the end, but it’s obviously good to win.”
Didge Dziurzynski’s recent run of torrid luck continued at Rockingham with an ignition-related issue ruining his qualifying session and going on to cause an uncharacteristic 21st place finish in race one. Struggling to get to the root of the cause, he didn’t take the start of Sunday’s encounter.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants is additionally supported by Augustus Martin, Ceva Logistics, ECM Vehicle Delivery, Hankook, Milltek Sport, KW Automotive, Superchips and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants
Round 5 (of 14)
Rockingham – 10 laps = 19.40 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time 1 Steve Chaplin Maisemore Beetle 3.2 RSI 15m40.261s / 74.27mph 2 Aaron Mason Doncaster Golf GTI +0.473s 3 Peter Felix Derby Golf GTI +5.523s 4 Paul Taylor Great Amwell Golf R32 +6.075s 5 Michael Kurton Corse Lawn Scirocco R +9.051s 6 Daniel Walker Newark Golf GTI +11.936s 7 Howard Fuller Worcester Park Golf GTI +12.492s 8 Sam Edwards Aylesbury Golf GTI +17.315s 9 Tim Snaylam Bolton Golf GTI +17.809s 10 Martyn Walsh Chipping Norton Golf GTI +20.989s Fastest lap: Mason 1m 32.405s / 75.57mph Record
Rockingham – 13 laps = 25.22 miles
Pos Driver Home Car Time 1 Howard Fuller Worcester Park Golf GTI 20m36.058s / 73.45mph 2 Peter Felix Derby Golf GTI +3.761s 3 James Walker Normanton Golf GTI +5.049s 4 Peter Wyhinny Solihull SEAT Leon +13.523s 5 Paul Taylor Great Amwell Golf R32 +18.621s 6 Martyn Walsh Chipping Norton Golf GTI +32.720s 7 Sam Edwards Aylesbury Golf GTI +36.597s 8 Paul Wyhinny Balsall Common Golf GTI +41.093s 9 Simon Elliott Coggenhoe Caddy Van Racer +46.417s 10 Daniel Walker Newark Golf GTI +54.414s Fastest lap: James Walker 1m 32.969s / 75.12mph
Provisional championship standings
1 Chaplin 248 points 2 Edwards 200 3 Mason 186 4 Taylor 182 5 James Walker 180 6 Felix 158; 7 Kurton 154 8 Daniel Walker 148 9 Snaylam 134 10 Kieran Griffin 130
Next races: 14/15 Aug Silverstone GP