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Double victory at Oulton

Wasn’t able to get this news out but a great start to the Volkswagen Racing Cup over the weekend!

Volkswagen Racing Cup, Oulton Park

The formbook was thrown out of the window for the opening rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup at Oulton Park today (Monday), with Joe Fulbrook claiming twin wins at the wheel of his turbocharged Bora and reigning champion Paul Taylor leaving Cheshire point-less.

Fulbrook’s first win was gifted to him when early leader Taylor crashed out, and he went on to do the double by picking his way through the debris of several accidents and excursions in tricky wet conditions.

Oulton’s rounds of the Hankook-backed series also saw two successful world motorsport debuts – for the new GT TSI Golf with its turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-litre 230 PS engine and the DSG semi-automatic Golf R32.

Fulbrook emerged a delighted but somewhat surprised victor of round one for, although his Warranty Direct-backed Bora had the legs of everyone in qualifying, it had been comprehensively outpaced at the start of the race.

Fulbrook’s best qualifying lap was a superb effort, nearly a second inside last year’s pole time and nine-tenths better than that of his nearest rival, reigning champion Taylor.

One man might have stood between Fulbrook and pole position – Martyn Culley, but his qualifying session ended prematurely with a seized engine after he had set a time which would have been good enough for fourth. His Vento hors de combat, Martyn borrowed his father Barrie’s identical sister car and started from the back of the grid.

Taylor made full use of his Golf R32’s four-wheel-drive system to rocket past Fulbrook and into what would be a 3.3s lead by the end of the opening lap. And though Joe never looked like he was about to give up the chase, his pursuit looked like it was going to prove fruitless.

Until three laps to go, that is, when Taylor, who enjoyed such good luck throughout 2006 on his title charge, suffered a reversal of fortune when his steering rack snapped. Powerless to prevent the accident, he sailed into a tyre wall at Britten’s chicane.

Fulbrook, who had on the previous tour claimed the fastest lap of the race, could hardly believe it: ‘I was certainly a bit lucky there,’ said Joe, who was able to cruise to a 6.1s victory. ‘I had made up a bit of ground on Paul and was wondering whether I could get closer, and then I didn’t have to!’

Fulbrook had pulled well clear early on of the squabble for what was third place between Adrian Dziurzynski’s Mk II Golf and Steve Wood’s modern-day version. Wood, despite a brake imbalance, pressured his younger rival for the full race distance and managed to squeeze past on the final lap at Druids Corner to secure second. There was more bad news to come for Adrian: keen to retake Wood he overcooked it at the final corner, Lodge, and plunged into a gravel trap.

The next battle was the most captivating of the race, contested early on by the Beetles of Darren Blumson and Paul Lloyd-Roach, Andrew Smith’s Golf GTI and the crowd-pleasing ‘Herbie’-liveried Beetle of Steve Chaplin.

Smith fell from the fray early on with a broken hub, but his place in the melee was taken by Tony Gilham’s new Golf. Tony, like Culley, had started from the back of the grid after an off in qualifying and was in fighting form, climbing to ninth on the opening lap and up to sixth by middle distance.

Culley was close behind in seventh and both he and Gilham made short work of Blumson’s ill-handling car, then passed Lloyd-Roach, and then demoted Herbie to take up station in fourth and fifth.

But Culley was not done yet. He sold Gilham a dummy three laps from home and sliced past to take what would become a richly deserved third place. ‘That was fantastic,’ said Martyn. ‘I have never done so much overtaking in my life. I am so grateful to my father for giving up his car for me, because I’m going for the championship this year. At least it sends him a message that his car is just as quick as mine!’

Gilham finished two seconds behind for fourth, with Chaplin fifth, Lloyd-Roach sixth – his best-ever result – and Alex Dziurzynski seventh in his Corrado, a good finish after starting way back on the grid following a qualifying accident. Blumson struggled on with terminal oversteer to eighth ahead of Peter Wyhinny’s Caddy and the Golf GTI of Mike Kurton.

Championship newcomer Jamie Perry survived a first-lap spin and clutch problems to bring his V6 Golf home 11th ahead of the DSG gearbox-equipped Golf R32 of Graham Needham, Michael McInerney’s Golf and Richard Kingsnorth’s down-on-power TDI Golf.

Journalist Nick Trott joined the retirement list after giving the new Golf GT TSI an encouraging world motorsport debut. Despite having had no opportunity to test the car prior to the meeting, Nick qualified it 15th on the grid and improved by more than a second a lap in the race to climb to 13th position before slithering off and into a gravel trap at Druids on the sixth lap.

The wet race two was even more eventful and exciting, and unfortunately had to be restarted after a first-corner accident eliminated two cars. The Beetles of pole-sitter Lloyd-Roach and Blumson were in collision at Old Hall Corner after the former spun; both cars were damaged and Lloyd-Roach, shaken by the crash, was taken to hospital as a precaution.

After the debris was cleared Needham made a remarkable start from the sixth row of the grid, his four-wheel-drive Golf revelling in the greasy track conditions, to take an early lead ahead of Culley and Fulbrook.

Alas for Graham he was the hapless victim of an out-of-control Culley at the start of lap two. ‘I went to try to pass Graham,’ said Martyn, ‘and then my engine just cut out. I was a passenger from then on.’ Culley’s car careered into Needham’s and they both spun from contention, Culley pulling off shortly after.

And that handed the lead, somewhat earlier than he had gratefully received it in race one, to Joe Fulbrook. The Maidenhead man popped in a succession of fastest laps to boost his lead over Adrian Dziurzynski and, as Dziurzynski faded in the closing laps, Joe romped to a 19-second victory.

‘I am a bit surprised to have won so easily,’ said Joe, ‘but I think everyone else got a bit hot under the collar and tried to go too fast for the conditions too soon. I took it gently to start and stayed out of trouble.’

Dziurzynski slowed dramatically in the late stages, his Golf’s gearbox offering him nothing but fourth, but he nonetheless made the finish line five seconds ahead of Wood. ‘This more than makes up for the disappointment of not finishing race one,’ said Adrian of his best-ever Volkswagen Racing Cup result.

Wood had suffered a difficult opening lap, falling back to sixth, but fought past the cars of Needham and Alex Dziurzynski to take third.

An amazing fourth, and bearing down on Wood, was the TDI-powered Caddy van of Peter Wyhinny, which made the most of the slippery conditions and provided many exciting moments – not the least of which was a bruising encounter with ‘Herbie’ at Lodge – on its way to the chequered flag. ‘Another lap and I think I could have made third,’ said a delighted Wyhinny.

Alex Dziurzynski took fifth in his Corrado, ahead of Tony Gilham, whose Golf was caught up in the Lloyd-Roach/Blumson crash and which had had to start the race from pit lane after hasty repairs and a wheel change.

Andrew Smith took seventh on home ground from Chaplin’s battered Herbie, Needham’s battered Golf, Kurton and McInerney. Nick Trott brought the Golf GT TSI home 12th and was further encouraged by its progress. ‘My aim in this race was to get a finish, so there were no heroics,’ said Nick. ‘But it was enough to convince me that with minimal work on the handling the Golf will be a top-six runner, and that it could be a race winner with further work and the right driver.

The Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook enjoys the additional support of Augustus Martin, Castrol, ECM Vehicle Delivery, Europcar, Milltek Sport, Mondial Assistance, KW Automotive, Superchips, TNT Logistics, Turbo Dynamics, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Financial Services UK.

- Volkswagen Racing Cup News

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