Six different drivers made it to the podium in two crowd-thrilling rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook at Snetterton this weekend (2/3 June), throwing the race for the 2007 championship title wide open.
Paul Taylor, reigning champion and a past master of the Norfolk circuit, claimed his second victory of the year on Saturday, while truck racing star Richard Walker made a winning transition to saloons with a win in his first Racing Cup outing today (Sunday). Joe Fulbrook, a three-time winner already this season, had to settle for second and fourth place finishes, but retained his championship lead.
Steve Wood was the star of Saturday’s qualifying, snatching pole from Fulbrook with less than five minutes of the session remaining. Having led the time sheets by almost half a second, Fulbrook was already on his way to parc fermé when his rival bested his effort by just 44 thousandths of a second. There were heroic performances, too, from the Golfs of Jamie Perry and Taylor, whose final flying laps earned them third and fourth places on the grid, demoting the Golf GTI of Tony Gilham to fifth.
There was more woe for Gilham as the cars formed up for the start of Saturday’s race: arriving late, he was forced to start from the pit lane. Taylor exploited the extra traction of his car’s four-wheel drive to take the lead first time into Riches, ahead of Wood, Fulbrook, Perry and Adrian Dziurzynski.
The order at the front remained static for the first five laps, but with Wood and Fulbrook drawing closer to the leader. Fulbrook briefly held second on lap seven, while further back Perry was coming under close attention from the charging Golf GTI of cup debutant Walker, deputising for Mike Kurton.
Coming into the Russell chicane on lap 11, Taylor and Wood could barely be separated, the cars running side-by-side through the middle of the complex. Wood was ahead across the line, but his lead lasted less than one lap. Once again, Taylor had the better of the fight and went on to post his fourth Snetterton victory in five Cup visits to the track.
Wood fell away with bodywork rubbing on a rear tyre and was passed by Fulbrook on lap 13, before coming together with Adrian Dziurzynski at the Bomb Hole on the final tour. Wood held on for third, but Dziurzynski’s damaged Golf was overhauled by Walker for fourth. Perry was a lonely sixth, with Gilham’s Golf GTI bearing the scars of a hard battle to seventh, the driver coping with a broken suspension arm throughout the race. Steve Chaplin prospered in a tough mid-field melee to bring his “Herbie” liveried Beetle home in eighth, ahead of Michael McInerney, with Alex Dziurzynski rounding off the top 10.
‘It was a great but hard race and half way through I doubted whether I would be able to hold Steve off,’ said Taylor. ‘Mine was not the fastest car out there, and Steve really rose to the challenge, but I was probably the hardest to pass. The car was well suited to the circuit, but in the pit lane after the race the clutch exploded, which means a gearbox change before we start again tomorrow.’
Fulbrook commented: ‘Any of us in the top three could have won today. I sat back thinking that Paul and Steve would slow each other down with their dice, giving me the chance to come through and do the double on them, but I just couldn’t do it. But my car was superb and handling brilliantly, so I’ve big hopes for the next round.’
Saturday’s results delivered pole position to Perry for round six, Jamie lining up alongside Adrian Dziurzynski. But Taylor again made a blinding start, moving from sixth on the grid to lead the field out of Sear corner. He was not to have it his own way, however, as Dziurzynski and Wood were through on lap two, before making contact in the chicane. Taylor was once more in front, with Wood holding second. Dziurzynski’s damaged Golf was destined for a steady slide down the order.
Wood made it to the front at the Esses on lap six, but his lead lasted but one lap, Walker besting him by just four thousandths of a second the next time through. A titanic battle looked in store as Wood regained the initiative on lap eight, only to be sidelined from the action by a broken gear linkage.
Taylor looked strong for a podium finish until his car stuck in third gear with two laps to run, leaving Gilham to gain a well-earned second from a fraught weekend, ahead of Perry and Fulbrook. Martin Culley’s fifth was a fine reward after a series of technical problems that prompted a change to his father’s Barrie’s Vento VR6 and a start from the back of the grid. Alex Dziurzynski prevailed in a prolonged dice for sixth with the Caddy TDI of Peter Wyhinny, with Taylor, Andrew Smith and Darren Blumson completing the top 10.
A delighted Richard Walker said: ‘The car was just brilliant. I’ve actually never raced a front-wheel-drive car before, but my road car is a Golf and I’m a huge fan. When I saw that Steve had broken down, I realised that the win could be mine and it just went perfectly.’
Second-placed Gilham said: ‘It was good to come away with this result after Saturday’s problems, but it could so easily have been a disaster. Twice the car went into limp-home mode on the back straight early in the race, and I had to bump-start it to get full power back.’
Perry said: ‘We went for new tyres as we knew they would come good later in the race and it worked just brilliantly. On the last two or three laps I was even able to get some four-wheel drift and reel in the heavier boys.’
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