VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP RACE REPORTS 2010
6 APRIL 2010
DIDGE DODGES TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AT OULTON
Didge Dziurzynski, the driver with the greatest number of race wins in the 2009 Volkswagen Racing Cup, opened his account in the 2010 championship in fine style yesterday at Oulton Park, driving his West End Precision Golf GTI to a win, a second place and a new lap record.
Thanks to his Oulton successes the 26-year-old from Bournemouth heads the Fuchs Lubricants-backed championship by a 10-point margin from the other Oulton race winner, Derby-based Golf GTI pilot Peter Felix.
Dziurzynski’s win came in the first of the day’s races, which had to be stopped and restarted after a multi-car pile-up on the opening lap left several cars out of action: of the 28 cars which took part in qualifying, only 25 took the restart. Didge started from the pole but was beaten back to third on the opening lap by James Walker’s Golf GTI and the ‘Herbie’ Beetle of Steve Chaplin. Dziurzynski found his way by Chaplin for second at Old Hall Corner on the third lap and, two laps later, squeezed by Walker for the lead.
Didge went on to a 0.7s win, declaring himself “ecstatic” with his victory. “It’s a great start to the season – the car performed brilliantly and the racing was excellent.”
Chaplin bumped Walker back to third – James complaining of a lack of straight-line speed – with three laps to go. “It’s a much better start to my season than I had last year,” said Steve.
Felix held fifth for much of the race but outsmarted Golf man Aaron Mason to deprive him of fourth with a couple of laps to run, with Kieran Griffin completing the top six in the Addison Lee Scirocco to claim his best-yet race finish and earn the pole for the second race under the reverse-grid rule.
Tim Snaylam’s Golf headed home SEAT UK boss Peter Wyhinny for seventh, Peter at the wheel not of a Volkswagen but a SEAT Leon Cupra promotional car, which enjoyed an encouraging debut. Michael Kurton’s Scirocco and the Corrado of championship returnee Alex Dziurzynski completed the top 10.
The championship’s two disabled drivers, Simon Andrews and Phil Morris, both enjoyed encouraging race debuts. Andrews raced his Golf GTI from 24th on the grid to 14th at the chequered flag, just ahead of the RAC-liveried Caddy of Simon Elliott, while Morris, in the Team Fuchs Titan Race Golf, claimed 20th.
Among the disappointed non-finishers were the Culley family, Martyn and Barrie, whose cars developed mechanical dramas, and Richard Styrin, whose Golf was tapped into the barriers on the opening lap.
A fast-starting James Walker held the round two lead briefly before Felix, who started from third on the grid, took command. Despite still being hampered by a lack of straight-line speed, Walker gamely chased the leading Golf until he fell into Didge Dziurzynski’s clutches five laps from the end.
By this stage Felix was 2.7s up the road. Dziurzynski did all he could to reel the leader in, reducing the deficit to half a second on the penultimate lap, but in the end Didge ran out of laps to achieve his second win of the day. “I was having a few braking problems,” he said, “and then on the last lap at one point I went in too hot and lost a lot of time. I knew it was the last lap and I had to give it everything. Fair play to Peter: he drove a fantastic race.”
Felix was delighted with his maiden Volkswagen Racing Cup win: “I was really under pressure there but I managed to hang on and make it difficult for Didge. This win has been a long time coming and hopefully will be the first of many.”
Chaplin fell back to sixth with a missed gear at the start of the race but battled through to claim the final slot on the podium with Herbie, just ahead of Griffin. Golf men Sam Edwards and Snaylam finished fifth and sixth, with Wyhinny went one better in the SEAT this time to take seventh ahead of Kurton and Daniel Walker’s new Golf.
Paul Taylor made the most of his R32’s four-wheel-drive traction to rocket into fourth on the opening lap but suffered damage in contact with another car and slipped to 10th by the end. Styrin bounced back from his first-race dramas to take 13th, with Andrews 15th – again one place ahead of the Elliott Caddy – and Morris 19th.
23 MAY 2010
CHAPLIN TAKES CUP LEAD AS MASON & WALKER WIN AT ZANDVOORT
Steve Chaplin stormed to the top of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants championship standings at Zandvoort in Holland yesterday thanks to a pair of consistently strong podium finishes. For erstwhile points leader Didge Dziurzynski, though, it was a weekend to forget.
Aaron Mason boosted his campaign with a hard-fought maiden win during round three, less than a second ahead of Chaplin, while a deserved round four victory went the way of Richard Walker, some four seconds clear of Sam Edwards and the ever-present ‘Herbie’ Beetle RSI of Chaplin.
For Dziurzynski, the championship’s first overseas trip couldn’t have been much less fruitful and although enjoying the demands of the Zandvoort track he rued two unfortunate mechanical failings with his Golf GTI – a broken gear linkage in race one resulting in a 12th place finish and a complete loss of power in race two leading to a lap seven retirement.
Qualifying was dominated for the most part by Edwards’ Golf GTI and he duly took pole position despite his time being threatened in the closing minutes by Chaplin. The pair ended qualifying separated by just two-thousandths of a second.
At the beginning of round three, Edwards led from the front of the grid but a fast-starting Paul Taylor moved into second on the opening lap – up from fifth – at the wheel of his Golf R32, ahead of Mason and Chaplin.
It was incredibly tight at the front; Mason edged into second on lap two and Chaplin then took third as Taylor was pushed back to fourth. Daniel Walker, meanwhile, was given a drive-through penalty for breaching track rules, dropping him out of contention and leading to an eventual result of 16th. Michael McInerney was also penalised 10 seconds, for a jump start; he finished 18th.
Heading into lap three, Mason edged ahead of Edwards to lead by a couple of hundredths and although Sam tried to fight back around the outside of turn one – Tarzanbocht – Mason held the correct line for the following corner and maintained a slim advantage.
Chaplin sliced past Edwards at the first corner on lap four to take second place and from that point on the lead duo pulled well clear of the rest. He tried hard to usurp Mason, setting the fastest lap on the seventh tour, and Chaplin made the pressure pay off on lap 11 when he led briefly. Mason hit back on the following tour to retake top spot and secure the win.
Edwards, some 10 seconds adrift at the finish on lap 13, held third place with Taylor fourth, Richard Walker fifth and Michael Kurton sixth. SEAT Cars UK director Peter Wyhinny was unbelievably lucky to avoid major contact on lap one at the third corner, Hugenholtzbocht, but he recovered ahead of a delayed pack of half a dozen cars to finish 10th.
Reflecting on his debut win, Mason said: “I thought I was going to lose it towards the end. Steve pushed me into making a few mistakes so I was lucky to hold on. I made a mistake a couple of laps from the end and he got through but I got him back at the same corner. To get my first podium was the objective. I’ve got that now with a win, so I’m absolutely delighted.”
Chaplin added: “I’ve got to be happy with second; a good solid finish and an enjoyable race.”
After missing out on a podium finish during the first of the Zandvoort races, Richard Walker more than made amends with a strong victory during round four in his Mk V Golf GTI, ahead of Edwards’ similar machine.
Lining up second on the reverse grid alongside pole-sitter Michael Kurton, Walker shot into an early lead as Paul Taylor too made another very strong getaway from third. Into lap two, Walker held a 1.3-second margin over Edwards – up from fourth – with Taylor keeping Chaplin at bay for third.
Edwards, with his car providing fantastic grip early in the race, made the most of the tools available to him and moved past Walker on lap three. As the lead pair stretched out a six-second cushion over the rest of the pack, Taylor slipped from third to sixth on the fifth tour with Chaplin assuming the final podium spot, James Walker taking fourth and Mason grabbing fifth.
With clear track ahead, Chaplin started to reel off his best laps of the race and managed to close down Edwards, who was battling an ill-handling car as the race neared its conclusion. As it turned out, the camber settings which offered so much grip early on came back to haunt Edwards with his tyres paying the price over the final few laps.
Losing the lead to Walker on lap eight at Tarzanbocht, Edwards did fight back but lost out again a couple of laps later. Slipping further back over the final few miles of racing, Sam just managed to hold on to the runner-up spot, a mere 0.1 seconds ahead of Chaplin. Walker, meanwhile, kept things neat and tidy over the course of the last three laps to win by 4.2 seconds.
Mason came through to take fourth ahead of James Walker, with Kieran Griffin sixth to hold off pole-sitter Kurton. Paul Taylor, meanwhile, ended the encounter eighth after slipping out of the top six on lap 11.
“I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see the podium this weekend after the first race,” said Richard Walker. “We discovered I had a flat spot at 4000 revs, so I was determined to get a clear run in this one. We had a new set of tyres, too, which lasted much longer and Sam’s tyres and brakes went off so I was able to capitalise. It’s been fabulous coming to Zandvoort, a really great weekend.”
Edwards commented: “I had too much camber which killed the tyres towards the end. At the start the car was fantastic, it all felt very easy, but in the end it was terrible – I had no grip at all, so it was good to get second place, I’m well pleased with that.”
“Sam drove a good race,” said new championship leader Chaplin, “even though he was struggling he held on well to second place. It was hard fought but to take two podiums from the weekend is good.”
Unlike his dad Richard and brother James, Daniel Walker didn’t have much success to celebrate with a round three penalty compounded by a driveshaft problem in round four.
Father and son Barrie and Martyn Culley shared the family honours with Barrie taking a fine top-10 finish in the second of the weekend’s races to improve on 13th position in race one in his Vento. Son Martyn, meanwhile, was 11th in the opener but a driveshaft issue dropped him to 17th in round four.
While Didge Dziurzynski could do little but watch helplessly as his points lead disappeared, brother Alex suffered his own dose of bad fortune with a suspected driveshaft failure in race one. He took an excellent 11th place in race two though, battling through from 23rd, and last, on the grid.
Tony Taylor, father of Paul, had an unfortunate excursion on lap six of the opener – his championship debut – which led to contact with the barriers and retirement. He hit back in the second race with a 16th place result.
Zoe Wenham, the Volkswagen Racing Cup’s youngest ever competitor at 16, delivered a great account of herself on her debut but a highly unfortunate driveshaft failure – which was later followed by a problem with the turbo on her Polo GTI – meant a retirement from race one and prevented her from taking the grid for race two.
More bad luck fell the way of Richard Styrin who, recovering from a broken wrist, was unable to complete more than seven racing laps throughout the weekend due to an ongoing electrical problem. Darren Blumson also posted a brace of non-finishes because of fuel surge issues.
At the close of the weekend’s action, the competitors were united in their praise of the Zandvoort track and gave a major thumbs-up to the decision to include the Dutch venue on the 2010 calendar.
18 JULY 2010
DEBUTANT FULLER & POINTS LEADER CHAPLIN SHARE WINS
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.
15 AUGUST 2010
FELIX & WALKER EACH TAKE SECOND WINS OF SEASON
Peter Felix and Richard Walker shared the victories in rounds seven and eight of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants at Silverstone today – the Golf GTI duo becoming the first drivers this season to take more than one race win.
It was the first time in the championship’s 10-year history an event had been staged on the Northamptonshire venue’s Grand Prix configuration, and both of the day’s encounters served up some terrific racing.
Paul Taylor enjoyed a welcome return to the podium with a brace of very strong second place finishes at the wheel of his R32 Golf, while Didge Dziurzynski was another to make an overdue rostrum return, taking third place in round seven.
Championship leader Steve Chaplin was the weekend’s other podium finisher, taking third in round eight to back up a competitive fourth place during the earlier round. In doing so, he has extended to 60 points his lead in the standings with six races remaining.
During qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Richard Walker claimed pole position by a 1.2 second margin from Felix, the latter snatching second on the grid by just 0.093 seconds from Chaplin’s ‘Herbie’ Beetle RSi on his final lap.
At the start of round seven, Taylor made his customary lightning getaway to rise from the fifth row into third place out of Copse behind Felix’s Mk5 Golf and the similar machine of Richard Walker.
Zandvoort race winner Richard looked comfortable throughout the opening lap and stayed ahead of Felix, Taylor, Dziurzynski and Chaplin into the complex. Further behind, at Brooklands, the Sciroccos of Rob Daniels and Michael Kurton collided – Kurton continued and, although Daniels made it to the pits, he retired.
Felix began to push harder during the second tour and at Abbey he saw his chance and seized the lead from Richard Walker, the resulting delay dropping the pole man back to third behind Taylor. Dziurzynski held fourth, under huge pressure from Chaplin, with Sam Edwards in sixth fending off James Walker.
As soon as Felix hit the front he managed to pull well clear of his pursuers and from that point on he was never threatened, taking the victory by an impressive 2.7 seconds to add to his round two Oulton Park win.
Felix said: “It was a great race, it’s a credit to Volkswagen and the organisers that we have 28 cars on the grid this weekend. It’s absolutely brilliant and they deserve an awful lot of credit for what they’ve done. I was a bit surprised at Richard’s qualifying time and over the first two laps I thought to myself ‘I’m quicker than you’, so I did him at Abbey on the brakes. I’m hoping to be at Snetterton in a couple of weeks, I am struggling a bit with the funding but after a result like this I have to be there.”
Richard Walker, having problems selecting fifth gear and struggling with understeer, slipped back to fifth behind Taylor, Dziurzynski and Chaplin and started to come under pressure from his son James, and Edwards.
Dziurzynski, who posted the fastest lap on the fourth tour, started to press Taylor for the runner-up spot but the R32 driver – having made some changes to his car to give it greater longevity in the races – defended admirably and in the end managed to hold on by just 0.8s.
The fight over the last podium place rumbled to the finish. Trading positions during the final four laps, Dziurzynski took third from Chaplin a couple of laps from the end, with Richard Walker holding on to fifth.
Edwards just saw off race-long nemesis James Walker for sixth while a richly deserved top eight placing went the way of Alex Dziurzynski, who mounted a superb drive through the order from 21st on the grid having experienced gear linkage troubles with his Corrado in qualifying.
Tim Snaylam’s Golf finished in ninth place, a good gain of six positions on his starting slot, just ahead of Kurton, who did well to recover from his opening lap skirmish at the complex.
Rockingham race winner Howard Fuller ended only his third ever Volkswagen Racing Cup event disappointed after being forced to retire from the top six battle a couple of laps from the finish due to gearbox woes.
Speaking on his deserved second place, Taylor said: “I’m really pleased to be back on the podium. We’ve made some changes with Ohlins on the suspension and we’ve also gone to 18-inch wheels now so we’re able to get more pace out of the car over the distance by sacrificing a couple of tenths at the start.”
Didge Dziurzynski added: “Third is absolutely fantastic; we had a bit of a problem in qualifying with the fuel surging but in the race it was OK – I’m elated with this result. Zandvoort was horrible, Rockingham was just as bad and although we still have a few teething troubles, things are much better now.”
Cloudier skies moved in for round eight but the rain thankfully stayed away and the huge Cup grid once again delivered a cracking encounter. Edwards had pole position on the ‘reverse top six’ grid ahead of Richard Walker, Chaplin, Didge Dziurzynski, Taylor and Felix.
Making an even better start than he did during the opener, Taylor took the lead of the race on lap one from Walker and Chaplin while further down the order Aaron Mason and Fuller made great progress from the rear of the grid.
Initially, the top three started to break away but it wasn’t long before Dziurzynski began to close in. On lap two Walker moved to the front past Taylor at Club and Felix grabbed fifth from Edwards. As Taylor and Chaplin embarked on a battle royal for second place, Walker was able to drive his own race and begin to pull clear. Dominating from there on, he built an impressive winning margin of almost seven seconds.
“We had a few problems in the first race with the brakes and the gears, it was disappointing, but we made some changes and hit back well in race two,” said the round eight winner and new lap record holder. “We’ve only done Zandvoort and Silverstone this year and had a win and a fifth place each time.”
On lap four Chaplin moved past Taylor for second and Dziurzynski also went through, but the fight over second intensified. Taylor was then able to take full advantage when his rivals slowed each other up on the penultimate lap and he nipped through for second.
Chaplin finished just 0.4s behind in third to cap a consistently good weekend, after snatching the place from Dziurzynski – who played his double-scoring ‘Joker’ in round eight – at Priory on the last lap. Fifth place, meanwhile, went to James Walker after a very competitive run.
The fight over sixth between Edwards and Felix offered great entertainment, particularly at the end of lap six when the former took the place at Brooklands with a very well timed pass.
Felix hit back almost immediately though on the run out of Luffield through Woodcote, and into Copse at the start of lap seven he managed to regain sixth, which he held to the finish. The top eight was rounded out by SEAT Cars UK Director Peter Wyhinny in his Leon Cupra.
Mason, starting 26th on the grid, and Fuller, who started in 24th, each enjoyed a very strong performance with Mason coming through to finish in 10th behind Alex Dziurzynski and Fuller taking 12th just behind Tim Snaylam.
31 AUGUST 2010
FELIX COLLECTS A BRACE OF WINS AT SNETTERTON
Peter Felix was the big winner at Snetterton, the Derby driver handed victory in both of the day’s races when Paul Taylor was penalised.
Taylor, the 2006 champion, was romping home to certain victory in the first race – pre-race showers having made the track slippery and an ideal hunting ground for his four-wheel-drive Golf R32 – when he was ordered to the pits to serve a drive-through penalty for not observing the track limits at Sear corner.
It was a bitter pill for the Hertfordshire man to swallow; Taylor had taken control of the race from the outset, rocketing into the lead off the line, past pole-sitter Didge Dziurzynski’s Golf and the Beetle of championship leader Steve Chaplin. Taylor was on a wet-tyres-all-round set-up, but both Didge and Steve had opted for slick rubber on the front wheels.
Chaplin struggled the most with his tyre choice, slithering down the order as the race progressed and suffering a spin at Sear, as well as a clash with another car which dropped him to sixth by the end. Dziurzynski seemed to care little that he had not made the best tyre choice: he simply drove around the problem, allowing Taylor to get only 5s in front and setting fastest lap in pursuit.
On lap 12, when Taylor was called to serve his penalty, Didge gave up his spot to the Golf GTI of Felix, which was fully shod with wet tyres. “There was no way I could live with Peter’s pace,” he said. “But it was an awesome race for me, even though I was on the wrong tyres.”
Felix had seen the penalty flags waving at Taylor: “I saw the penalty being issued so I knew that if I could get past Didge it would be for the lead.” So it proved and Felix went on to take his third win of the year by a 1.6s margin over Dziurzynski, with James Walker’s KPM Racing Golf third and Taylor slotting back into fourth.
SEAT MD Peter Wyhinny got past both Chaplin and Aaron Mason on the 13th lap to secure an excellent fifth for his Leon Cupra, with Mike Kurton’s Slidesports Scirocco following Chaplin home for seventh. Slicks on the front did not help Daniel Walker’s progress early on and led to a couple of spins, but he battled back towards the end to eighth.
The Comline/AWM Golfs of Mason and Tim Snaylam finished in line astern for ninth and 10th, with Kieran Griffin returning from a footballing injury to pilot his Scirocco to 11th, ahead of Michael McInerney’s Europcar Jetta, the Caddy van of Simon Elliott, which survived unscathed a fourth-lap spin at the Esses, and the Team Fuchs Golf of Phil Morris.
Taylor put in a dominant performance during a restarted round 10 to secure victory at the flag.
At the original start, pole man Chaplin got away well, but rarely is anyone a match for Taylor’s four-wheel-drive R32 Golf off the grid and the championship frontrunner powered through from third on the grid once again to lead around the outside at Riches.
Further behind, Elliott got out of shape in the Caddy with a resulting spin taking him across the track into the path of the following train of cars. Luckily there was no major contact; a delay to all was the only inconvenience.
Taylor scorched into a lead of almost two seconds on the opening lap but his advantage was negated soon after when the safety car was deployed due to a major shunt involving Wyhinny’s SEAT and Dziurzynski’s Golf. They tangled on the run past the pits and contact with the barriers on the inside was unfortunately inevitable. With debris on the track and damage to the Armco, officials had little option but to red flag the race.
Lining up for the restart with the same grid order, minus Dziurzynski and Wyhinny, Taylor again stormed to the front and although Chaplin gamely tried to challenge into Riches the R32 held the lead. Felix, meanwhile, slotted into third in his Golf ahead of the similar machine of James Walker – the latter’s car sporting a heavily taped-up bonnet after contact in the original race.
Building a crushing advantage of almost two seconds over the first 1.95 miles of racing, Taylor aimed to extend his lead further into lap two but a three-car accident at Sear on the opening tour meant the safety car was deployed once more. McInerney’s Jetta, Snaylam’s Golf and Griffin’s Scirocco all came to grief.
The restart came on lap seven and Taylor immediately pulled clear of Chaplin and the rest, running unchallenged to the chequered flag to win by 2.7 seconds. Chaplin was usurped by Felix at the Esses as racing resumed and at the finish on lap 10 they were separated by just 0.4 seconds.
Taylor’s victory celebrations were to prove shortlived, however. Post-race scrutineering checks saw his Golf excluded from the results on a technicality, and Felix was to profit for the second time, with Chaplin promoted to second.
Third place went the way of Daniel Walker after sibling James and fellow Golf runner Mason made contact at the last corner of the last lap. Mason attempted to go around the outside of James into the chicane but the late move didn’t pay off and both cars collided. Mason recovered to take fourth behind Daniel, with the latter’s brother crawling across the line ninth. Kurton rounded out the top five in his Scirocco, ahead of Martyn Walsh’s Golf, Tony Harberman’s Beetle and the Caddy Van of Elliott.
Morris placed 10th, his best finish of the year, ahead of Simon Andrews and a Joker-playing Zoe Wenham, who was sampling Golf power for the first time.
26 SEPTEMBER 2010
FAIRYTALE RETURN FOR FULBROOK WITH DOUBLE BRANDS WIN
Joe Fulbrook, the 2008 and 2009 Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion, made a sensational return to the Fuchs Lubricants-backed series at Brands Hatch with two tremendous race wins in rounds 11 and 12 of the season.
Having spent the year developing his trusty Volkswagen Bora, the Berkshire racer proved that he has lost none of his speed or ability while on the sidelines as he eclipsed the current title challengers with a fairytale outcome at the 2.3-mile Kent track
James Walker pushed Fulbrook hard in the dry opening race, just 0.6 seconds splitting the pair at the finish, but in the rain-affected second encounter Fulbrook wound up a dominant winner as others hit troubles in the atrocious conditions.
One of the stand-out performances of the weekend came from VW Cup rookie Dominic Pettit, the former Ginetta racer scything his way through the order in the wet second outing at the wheel of a Golf GTI to take a tremendous podium in only his second race in a front-wheel-drive car.
In terms of the championship, Steve Chaplin continues to head the standings and although only managing a pair of sixth places the Beetle RSI driver heads to Donington Park’s final rounds next month with a 56-point advantage over Golf R32 driver Paul Taylor.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the car and haven’t really tested it before this weekend so to win both races is unbelievable,” said Fulbrook. “It’s a really good car now but the cold weather did help us today. I know we’re not carrying any weight [success ballast] and some of them are out there driving for the championship, but it’s still fantastic to win both races. I’m very happy.”
Aaron Mason steered his Golf to pole position – his first of the year – during Saturday’s qualifying session, some 0.2s clear of Chaplin with Kieran Griffin a strong third in his Scirocco and Fulbrook fourth.
At the start of round 11, Chaplin moved into an early lead as Mason struggled to get off the line cleanly from Brands Hatch’s notoriously tricky pole position slot, with Fulbrook taking third and Taylor storming through from 13th on the grid into the top six.
As the leaders headed to Druids Hairpin for the first time, several cars further back tangled exiting Paddock Hill Bend, leading to instant retirements for Daniel Walker, Martyn Culley and Peter Lettinga. Simon Elliott’s redoubtable Caddy Van Racer was also involved and, although he recovered, he later retired on lap nine with an excursion at Druids.
On lap two, Fulbrook seized second place from Mason at Dingle Dell and then the former mounted a challenge on the race leader into lap three. Running side-by-side through Druids, Fulbrook held the outside line and nosed ahead on the run to Graham Hill Bend to take the lead while Chaplin tucked in behind and James Walker moved into the top three in his Golf GTI as Mason started to suffer with electrical problems.
Walker’s spot was soon taken by Didge Dziurzynski’s older Golf when he sliced past into Surtees, and then Taylor began to make an impression on the fourth tour as he shot from fourth into second at Druids past Walker and Chaplin, having already deposed Dziurzynski.
An unfortunate excursion for Michael Kurton at Stirling’s Bend led to a Safety Car from the start of lap five with the top six running order reading Fulbrook, Taylor, Walker, Dziurzynski, Chaplin and Peter Felix.
Fulbrook made a good job of the restart on lap seven as the lead bunch pulled a literal country mile clear of the rest – over 20 seconds separating the top six from the rest at the finish.
At Graham Hill Bend on the first lap of restarted action, Walker pulled a great move to take second from Taylor and the latter then came under pressure from Dziurzynski but he lost out in a battle with Felix.
The order at the front remained unchanged to the finish, with Fulbrook enjoying a stunning comeback to the Cup with victory, just 0.6s clear of Walker who, in turn, was just shy of a second to the good over Taylor. Felix held on to fourth in his Golf GTI with Dziurzynski almost five seconds adrift.
Chaplin rounded out the top six ahead of Alex Dziurzynski’s Corrado with Martyn Walsh an impressive eighth and Peter Wyhinny ninth in his SEAT Leon after passing Tim Snaylam’s Golf at the final corner.
Griffin, who played his double points scoring ‘Joker’ prior to round 11, fought back well to 12th, having dropped to 19th following a drive-through penalty for a false start. Mason, who also played his Joker, could only manage 20th place due to his mechanical issues.
By the time the second Volkswagen encounter took place at the end of the day, rain had been falling at Brands Hatch for a couple of hours and the track conditions were treacherous.
For Fulbrook, this held no problems as he cruised to a clear win in the end as his early rivals fell by the wayside. As expected, Taylor’s four-wheel-drive R32 catapulted off the line from third into the lead as Didge Dziurzynski took second ahead of Felix and Fulbrook, with Chaplin slipping to fifth from pole.
Points leader Chaplin then dropped a further position behind Walker at Druids and on lap two he was down to seventh behind Alex Dziurzynski. In contrast, Fulbrook moved further forward – taking third on lap two from Felix and then moving ahead of Didge at Druids on the third tour.
Although still leading, Taylor’s advantage over Fulbrook was down to almost nothing as the pair ran line astern into lap four. Under pressure, Taylor then slid wide through the gravel at the exit of Paddock Hill Bend to drop to fifth.
Fulbrook had his own drama at Graham Hill Bend two corners later but managed to gather everything back up to head Didge, Felix, Walker, Taylor and Alex Dziurzynski along Cooper Straight.
Conditions showed no sign of improving but Fulbrook suddenly hit his rhythm anyway and from half distance he started to pull comfortably clear, eventually winning by just over 20 seconds. His cause was assisted when Walker and Felix went off at Surtees while dicing over second.
Walker recovered to finish the race second on the road, but he was later served with a one-minute penalty for ‘driving in a manner incompatible with safety’. This resulted in category rookie Dominic Pettit being promoted from his already excellent third place into the runner-up position.
Marking a fantastic conclusion to his maiden weekend of VW Cup action, the 19-year-old revelled in the conditions. As he gained more experience with each lap, so his pace improved and along with a very well deserved second place – from 15th on the grid – he set the fastest lap of the race too.
“It’s nice to finish the weekend with a podium,” said Pettit. “Qualifying turned out quite well in the end and although race one wasn’t great, the second one was really good. We’ve got more and more competitive all weekend and I think I showed that by taking the fastest lap in race two by over a second.”
Alex Dziurzynski took third – brother Didge having gone off on lap five – with Walsh an outstanding fourth, Taylor fifth, Chaplin sixth, Martyn Culley seventh and Snaylam eighth. For Walsh, Culley and Snaylam their results were especially important as each driver played his ‘Joker’ prior to the start. Culley was very impressive in his dad, Barrie’s, Vento VR6, scything through from the back of the grid.
17 OCTOBER 2010
‘HERBIE’ CARRIES CHAPLIN TO CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
Steve Chaplin is the new champion of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants. The 45-year-old from Gloucestershire and his ‘Herbie’-liveried Beetle RSI clinched the title today at the final meeting of the 2010 season at Donington Park, beating off three rivals for the crown with a second-place and a fourth-place finish in the championship’s concluding rounds.
Maisemore-based Chaplin took over at the head of the points table after the Zandvoort rounds in May and held on in front down to the wire thanks to one race win, four second places and three thirds over the course of the 14 rounds.
It is Steve’s fifth season in the series in partnership with Herbie, and he admits to a little relief at finally getting the mission accomplished: “We have been hunting it down for a while… This is a hard-fought championship and it seems like an awful long time that we have been plodding away at it. The way the points work, one minute you seem miles in front and the next you are right back in the mix again. I haven’t enjoyed defending my lead all year… I go to races to win, to do my best, and this defending business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my team, and in particular John Dowds, Craig Davis and Chris Jones, nor without the support I have received from Power Station, AST and Complete Utilities; I’m very grateful to everyone who has assisted along the way.”
Steve says he will probably return to defend his title next season, and hopes to use the experienced he has gained to move on to a GT-racing career. “This is an excellent championship with some wonderful people in it, and I’ve made some great friends. It’s like a holiday going to the races; you come away from work, see all the familiar faces, and I always get the feeling that an awful lot of people are willing me to do well.”
Chaplin’s grip on the crown was almost loosened in the first of the Donington races, when in his spirited defence of fourth place his Beetle was in collision with the Golf GTI of Richard Walker and Chaplin spun before continuing. “I thought that was going to be it,” said Steve, “but I managed to keep it going and carry on.” He crossed the line fifth behind Walker, but race stewards later penalised the Golf man by 1.0s for ‘avoidable contact’, and their placings were reversed.
Aaron Mason it was who won the lucky-for-him round 13, the Comline/AWM Golf GTI driver leading all the way from pole position to chequered flag. The Doncaster driver pulled clear of 2008/’09 champion Joe Fulbrook’s Bora to the tune of 1.3s on the opening lap and posted several fastest laps as he extended his lead to 3.6s at its greatest, though Fulbrook pegged it back to 1.8 seconds by the end.
“Aaron was off like a scalded cat at the start,” said Joe, “and he was a bit more committed than me in some corners and I couldn’t really catch him. If I had and had tried to pass it could have ended in tears, so I am quite happy to settle for second.”
“It was a great race for me,” said Mason. “I really made it pay in the first three laps and managed to build a lead. Towards the end Joe started to close up and very nearly caught me, but I managed to hang on to the end…”
The battle for third was a highlight of the race. Chaplin held sway initially, holding back Richard Walker and then one of his title rivals, Derby driver Peter Felix in another Golf. Felix chased the Beetle for four laps before finding a way past for the final spot on the podium. After the stewards’ ruling, Chaplin was classified fourth ahead of Walker.
Alex Dziurzynski and his brother Didge engaged in a great battle over sixth for many laps, the former’s Corrado just managing to keep the latter’s Mk II Golf GTI – the oldest car in the field – at bay until, alas, Didge started to lose gears and slipped back to finish 12th.
The 2007 champion, Tony Gilham, qualified his Golf fifth but completed the opening lap back in 13th after getting caught up with a spinning Kieran Griffin at Coppice; Tony’s climb back to seventh at the flag was a star performance.
Tim Snaylam’s Golf claimed a solid eighth ahead of Mike Kurton’s Scirocco and Tony Harberman’s Beetle, with Griffin recovering from his early drama to secure 11th ahead of Didge Dziurzynski and Dutch driver Peter Lettinga, who scored his first points in his new KPM Racing-prepared Golf GTI.
The other two title protagonists, Paul Taylor and James Walker, endured difficult races; Taylor’s Golf R32 was classified 15th while Walker finished a lap down in 20th after a pit stop for running repairs following a second-lap collision with the car of Martyn Walsh. Walsh’s Golf was forced to retire. Simon Elliott’s Caddy Van Racer placed 17th.
There was drama – and another stirring drive from Mason to secure victory – in race two. Alex Dziurzynski’s Corrado led from the pole, but Mason, who had started sixth and who battled through to third on the opening lap, swept past both Chaplin and Dziurzynski on lap two. The latter was dispatched with a brave manoeuvre into the Esses to promote Mason to the lead.
There was no running away and hiding for Mason this time, however. Chaplin got past the Corrado for second on the third lap and quickly whittled down Mason’s advantage to next to nothing, breaking the hours-old circuit lap record along the way. Steve made a lunge for the lead through McLeans three laps from the end but was firmly rebuffed, and thereafter Mason’s second win of the day – and third of the season – was never in doubt. “He very nearly got me,” said Aaron, “but I just managed to keep the line.”
Added Chaplin: “Aaron made a good move on me down the straight to take second, and from there on in it was just a case of chasing him really.”
Gilham started seventh this time and avoided any dramas to haul his Golf GTI up to third, passing Felix and Alex Dziurzynski along the way. Said Tony of his podium placing: “It’s good to get a podium; we should have had one in the earlier race but the first-lap incident put us back a little bit…”
Griffin made amends for his first-race spin with a fine drive in the Addison Lee Scirocco from 11th on the grid to fourth at the line, demoting Felix to fifth four laps from the end. Pole-sitter Alex Dziurzynski’s pace faded towards the end and he slipped behind his brother Didge to claim seventh.
James Walker made a storming start from 20th on the grid to move up to 11th on the opening lap, lost a couple of places on lap four after a brush with the Golf of Tim Snaylam, then bounced back to finish eighth, one place ahead of Snaylam, whose recovery from dead last after the contretemps was a brilliant drive.
James’s dad Richard Walker finish 10th after starting from pit lane, with the Golfs of Taylor, Zoe Wenham and Lettinga in line astern. Among the race’s casualties were Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon, which suffered fluid-loss problems, and Harberman’s Beetle, which was beached in a gravel trap after a braking issue. Fulbrook finished 24th and last, a lap down, after pitting for his wheels to be cleaned of gravel following a second-lap excursion while defending fifth.