Volkswagen Racing Cup championship title fortunes swung full circle this weekend as Bora driver Joe Fulbrook regained the initiative thanks to a win and a second-place finish at Silverstone while Donington double victor Didge Dziurzynski endured a no-score weekend through mechanical problems. Scirocco pilot Liam Griffin was the Joker-playing victor of the other Silverstone race.
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With only next month’s Brands Hatch rounds remaining, Fulbrook has a healthy 72-point championship lead over his closest challenger, Beetle racer Steve Chaplin, who has yet to play his Joker. Dziurzynski now has but a tiny mathematical chance of depriving Fulbrook of his second successive championship win in the Hankook-backed series.
It was a broken driveshaft which cost Didge his championship lead on the opening lap of Saturday’s 11th round. After qualifying second on the grid, behind pole-sitter Griffin and just ahead of the Warranty Direct Bora of Fulbrook, Didge had high hopes of another podium finish for the West End Precision Golf GTI. Alas his race lasted only a few corners…
It was Chaplin who made the best start, his ‘Herbie’ Beetle rocketing to the front at Copse before Addison Lee Scirocco driver Griffin reasserted his authority by snatching back the lead around the outside at Abbey. Liam was quick to get the hammer down and build a useful lead.
Richard Walker was another fast-starter, the Nottinghamshire veteran picking off several cars, including that of Fulbrook, to move into third on the opening lap. Next time around Walker demoted Chaplin from second, but there was little he could do about Griffin’s ever-increasing lead.
Walker soon started to suffer handling problems through the twistier sections of the track, and that allowed first Chaplin to repass him briefly and then Fulbrook to do the same, Joe having taken third from Chaplin on the sixth of the 13 laps. Fulbrook made his decisive move past Walker for second on the eighth lap and set about trying to reel in Griffin; by the fall of the chequered flag he had reduced the Sirocco man’s advantage to two-and-a-half seconds.
‘Fair play to Liam,’ said Fulbrook. ‘He got a good run off and there was no chance of catching him really, so I just concentrated on holding on to second.’
Said Griffin of his second win of the year: ‘I’d like to thank SlideSports for putting together a great car. Once I had got in front the others were all dicing each other and that gave me the chance to get away. I just tried to concentrate on driving the circuit rather than worrying what was happening in my mirrors.’
Chaplin secured third ahead of Walker on lap eight, and called his return to the podium ‘a great comeback’ after the disappointments he suffered last month at Donington Park.
After his spirited run, Walker had to make do with fourth at the flag, albeit well ahead of Aaron Mason’s Golf GTI.
Martyn Culley made an excellent return to the championship at the wheel of his Beetle RSI, which was in strong form after nearly a whole season in rebuild. Culley started seventh and finished sixth, ahead of Michael Kurton’s Scirocco and the Golfs of Peter Felix, Kieran Griffin and Anna Walewska.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Director Simon Elliott enjoyed a superbly competitive motorsporting debut, finishing 11th, ahead of four much more experienced drivers: Barrie Culley, Michael Neuhoff, Tony Harberman and Doug Ross. Neuhoff was reunited with the Golf TDI which he raced to victory in 2002; his plans to race a Lupo GTI were thwarted by engine problems pre-event.
There were further mechanical problems on Sunday for poor Dziurzynski: his race lasted only a lap before he was forced to the pits with gearbox oil gushing from his Golf… Richard Walker it was who led the way initially after a good start from third on the grid to overhaul the pole-sitting Beetle of Martyn Culley and Aaron Mason’s Golf. Just as on Saturday, however, Walker found himself unable to live with the pace of RP Motorsport team-mates Chaplin and Fulbrook; Chaplin eased past for the lead on lap three and Fulbrook bumped him back to third next time around.
Chaplin tried everything he could to pull clear of the charging Fulbrook but could not shake off his pursuer. Joe doggedly trailed the Beetle, hoping for a mistake. None came from the driver, but tell-tale smoke from ‘Herbie’ suggested all was not well with the machine.
The smoke proved to be leaking power steering fluid, and as the fluid escaped so Chaplin had to struggle with heavier and heavier steering. The inevitable loss of the lead to Fulbrook came on the penultimate lap, and then Walker swept back past for second on the final tour.
‘So near and yet so far,’ said Chaplin. ‘The power steering fluid was leaking on to the exhaust, which caused all the smoke. I had lost all my power steering and was having to heave it into the corners.’
‘We’ve had our fair share of bad luck this year so it’s nice to get some good fortune,’ said Fulbrook after his second race win of the season. The car was awesome and it was a no holds-barred fight with Steve until he had his problem.’
Martyn Culley recovered from a rather tardy start which saw him slip to fifth on the opening lap, passing Mason on lap two and holding on in fourth, well in touch with the leading trio, all the way to the end. Mason underlined his season-long form as most promising rookie by taking fifth, ahead of Kurton, Felix and Saturday winner Liam Griffin, whose Scirocco got barged down the order early on and struggled to recover due to handling problems.
Walewska and Kieran Griffin rounded out the top 10, with Elliott once again impressing with a strong 11th-place finish.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook is additionally supported by Augustus Martin, Ceva Logistics, ECM Vehicle Delivery, Milltek Sport, Mondial Assistance, KW Automotive, Superchips, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Financial Services UK.
- Volkswagen Racing Cup