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Volkswagen Racing Cup


6 APRIL 2003


The racing Carvell brothers laid an early stake on keeping the Volkswagen Racing Cup championship title in the family, Rob Carvell leading his younger brother Ian home for a superb sibling 1-2 in both of the opening rounds at Rockingham.

At the wheel of the Mk I Golf GTI which Ian drove to championship victory in 2002, Rob dominated the first of the day's races and overcame an early challenge from the showroom-fresh Golf R32 of Simon Harrison to take his second win of the day.

Ian Carvell showed no sign of regret at passing on his old car to Rob, however. His new Lupo Turbo was impressively quick on its maiden appearance and with race development will doubtless prove a winner before long.

"In the long term I will be struggling to keep Ian behind," admitted Rob. "His car has shown its potential early on."

Rob stamped his authority on round one on the opening lap, profiting from a spin by early leader Ray MacDowall's 2.8-litre Beetle and fending off the fast-starting Harrison in the four-wheel-drive R32. By mid-distance his lead over Ian's Lupo was 4.6 seconds, and even a late-race shower failed to dampen the little Golf's style.

Rob crossed the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Ian's Lupo, with Harrison making full use of the R32's superior traction to take a convincing third on the car's worldwide racing debut.

Volkswagen Racing UK managing director Sam Roach was impressed by Harrison's performance: "Simon stepped into the seat very late and did a magnificent job. The R32 is racing virtually in road specification, and it acquitted itself brilliantly."

Fourth place went to championship newcomer Martin Rutherford, whose Beetle battled through from eighth on the grid, displacing former BTCC racer Nick Beaumont (Golf VR6) as it went. Beaumont held on for fifth ahead of Jason Marino's Beetle.

Racing rookie Dan Taylor was an impressive seventh in his Vento, earning the Autosport Driver of the Day award for his efforts, with Mark Smith's Bora eighth on its debut.

Alex Dziurzynski, who earned his racing licence only two days before the event, was a superb ninth to claim the Most Improved Driver award. Lee Wharton (Golf 1.8T) rounded out the top 10.

Harrison made another blinding start in race two, his R32 rocketing into the lead from Rutherford and the Carvells. Alas Martin's Beetle was tapped into a spin at the first corner and rejoined the race dead last.

Rob Carvell found his way past the leader at the Deene hairpin on the second lap, with Ian following through in short order to set up the second Carvell carve-up of the day.

Harrison's third place was soon under threat from Beaumont, Nick managing to find a way past by mid-distance. There was no catching the Carvells by this stage, however, and Rob went on to cross the line four-tenths clear of Ian, with Beaumont five seconds adrift.

Harrison took fourth ahead of MacDowall, who had started from the back of the grid. Craig Inskip, who missed the start of race one when his Golf Turbo developed transmission problems, was heading for sixth place in race two when a misfire set in a couple of laps from the end; he slipped to eighth behind Taylor and Smith.

Rutherford recovered from his early spin to take ninth ahead of Kerr Robertson's Beetle.

Also in action at Rockingham was the revolutionary Golf TDI which, in the hands of Manxman Paul Lloyd-Roach, finished 14th and 15th in respective races, and the world's only racing van, the Caddy TDI. Peter Wyhinny drove it to 20th place in round two after failing to finish the earlier event through technical problems.

1 JUNE 2003


Just as his Volkswagen Racing Cup rivals feared he might, reigning champion Ian Carvell today demonstrated that his new car - a turbocharged 1.8-litre Lupo - is every bit as potent as his old, romping to twin wins at Silverstone.

But the 26-year-old was made to work hard every inch of the way, pursued to the chequered flag by the same three rivals in each race: Ray MacDowall's Beetle, Nick Beaumont's Golf VR6 and elder brother Rob Carvell at the wheel of Ian's old Mk I Golf GTI. Less than five seconds separated the leading quartet in each encounter.

Ian Carvell bagged his first pole position of the season in qualifying, his Crowsons of Spalding and Jabbasport-backed car just two-hundredths of a second quicker around the Northamptonshire track than Beaumont. MacDowall lined up third on the grid ahead of Rob Carvell, Shaun Hollamby's Beetle and Dan Taylor's Vento VR6. Less than nine-tenths of a second covered the top six, and less than two seconds separated the top 13 on the grid.

The scene was set for a titanic battle in the day's opening race, round three of the championship, and so it proved. Ian Carvell made a superb getaway at the green light only to run wide at Copse on the opening lap; MacDowall - his Beetle enjoying 1.8 turbo power for the first time - took the opportunity to scythe into the lead.

Ray's ECM-backed car held on in front of the lightning Lupo for six laps until Ian, who had been carefully preserving his tyres, outbraked the Beetle into Brooklands to regain top spot. "My tyres were in good shape and once I had got past Ray I had no problem staying there," said Ian. "In fact, I think Ray ruined his tyres trying to stay with me."

MacDowall had more problems other than trying to stay on terms with Ian; Beaumont was looming large in his mirrors and Rob Carvell was right there also, this quartet having long since broken free from the pack. Ray managed to hold on to second at the line with Beaumont managing to withstand Rob's intense last-lap pressure to claim third. Racing newcomer Taylor impressed once again, placing fifth.

His Caddy TDI ruled out of the running by technical problems, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles MD Peter Wyhinny revelled in the opportunity to sample Vento VR6 power and got the better of a race-long duel with Craig Inskip's Golf Turbo and Martin Rutherford's Beetle to lead them over the line in sixth.

Steve Walker, struggling with the handling in his all-new Golf, recovered from an early spin to take ninth and Ken Lark's down-on-power Corrado VR6 rounded out the top 10. Autosport's Marcus Pye, making a rare saloon racing appearance, overcame a broken seat mounting to take the four-wheel-drive Golf R32 to 13th place.

Round four provided a no less intense battle for victory between the two Carvells, Beaumont and MacDowall. Once again Ray got the better line through Copse to move into an early lead, losing out to Carvell through Becketts and then repassing into Brooklands.

This time Ian was not going to be content with sitting behind the Beetle and nursing his tyres. He made the decisive move of the race on the third lap, moving into a lead he would hold to the flag. "As my tyres held out so well in race one I decided I could go for it a bit earlier," he said.

Once again it was MacDowall who was closest to the winner, with Rob Carvell snatching third from Beaumont on the final lap after a race-long tussle. Rutherford, whose earlier race had been blighted by fuel surge problems, had no such trouble this time and claimed fifth ahead of Hollamby, Lark, Walker, Wyhinny and the Mk II Golf GTI of Alex Dziurzynski. Pye's R32 was once again 13th.

Rob Carvell, victor of rounds one and two, maintains a much-reduced championship lead over brother Ian, with Beaumont third overall.

29 JUNE 2003


The unstoppable Ian Carvell claimed the lead of the 2003 Volkswagen Racing Cup, the reigning champion romping to twin wins at Donington Park in his turbocharged Lupo.

The 26-year-old from Coventry led almost every inch in both races, watched by a 20,000-plus crowd at one of the Leicestershire circuit's biggest meetings of the year, his Jabbasport and Crowsons-backed car the class of a quality field.

Ian's elder brother and erstwhile series leader, Rob Carvell, ran him closest in Saturday's 25-minute race, with Shaun Hollamby fending off a determined charge by Ken Lark to claim the runner-up spot in today's 30-minute marathon.

Ian Carvell dominated in qualifying, too, beating Rob's Golf GTI to pole position by a 1.5-second margin. Lark's Corrado was third quickest from Ray MacDowall's turbo Beetle, Dan Taylor's Vento and Hollamby's Beetle.

Ian was quick to fend off Rob into Redgate corner at the start of the first of the weekend's races and within a lap had pulled out a lead of 1.3 seconds over his pursuers. By mid-distance - having shattered his own lap record for the Donington GP track - his advantage was 3.6s and his rivals were now racing for second.

Rob Carvell's hold on the runner-up slot lasted as far as the Craner Curves on the opening lap, Lark's Corrado slicing past. Hollamby and Craig Inskip's Golf were meanwhile engaged in a frantic battle for fourth, settled in Hollamby's favour only in the closing stages as Inskip struggled with a driveshaft problem.

Lark held on to second until the penultimate lap, losing out to Rob Carvell at McLeans. "Ken seemed to falter for a moment," said Rob, "and it gave me the chance to get back at him. It was a great battle." Rob reached the chequered flag 4.1s behind his delighted brother. "Smiles all round," said Ian. "The car was flying and I'm very pleased with the way I was driving."

Lark was right in Rob's wheeltracks for third, and a good distance ahead of fourth-placed Hollamby. Inskip managed to fend off Martin Rutherford, who started from the back in his Citygate Beetle after a qualifying collision, to hold fifth.

Taylor claimed seventh from Steve Walker, Alex Dziurzynski and Stuart Amphlett, who took his best placing of the year in the Golf VR6. Peter Wyhinny, at the wheel of the new Golf R32, placed 12th behind Mark Smith's Bora.

MacDowall's race lasted only eight laps, his ECM-backed Beetle suffering turbo problems, while John Irvine's stirring charge from the back through to seventh place came to a halt at mid-distance when his Scirocco's engine failed.

Race two saw Rob Carvell make a blinding getaway to lead Ian into Redgate, only for the little Golf to slide wide out of the Old Hairpin and lose its momentum. Ian needed no second bidding and was through into top spot in a moment, followed through by a charging Inskip and by Hollamby and Rutherford.

Rob's error saw him slip to fifth but he was soon fighting back, claiming fourth from Rutherford next time around and third from Inskip, who had already succumbed to Hollamby's relentless pressure, by the fifth tour. Within a further two laps Rob was up to second, albeit with little hope of catching his brother. Then, six laps from home, Rob's Golf cried enough, a driveshaft failure causing the car's first retirement in two-and-a-half seasons of racing.

That put Hollamby on course for second place, so long as he could fend off the charging Lark, who had staged a remarkable comeback from 13th place on the opening lap after his engine faltered away from the startline. Hollamby managed to stay ahead, saying later: "I'm delighted. It's my first time on a podium since 1995. The car is really coming on well and I should be in good form for Brands Hatch, my home circuit."

Ian Carvell said of his fourth win of the year: "What a superb weekend. I couldn't have hoped for better..."

Rutherford took fourth behind Lark, with Driver of the Day Inskip fifth from Taylor, Amphlett with another personal best, Paul Lloyd-Roach taking his best result in the Golf TDI, and Paul Dukes and Dave Turner. Michael McInerney was 11th in the Europcar Beetle, just ahead of Jonny Moore's Polo G40.

MacDowall's miserable weekend continued; the TCR mechanics swapped his recalcitrant 1.8 turbo motor for the Beetle's original 2.8 V6 overnight, only for a driveshaft to snap after nine laps. Ray had earlier recovered from a lurid first-corner spin and contact with George Haynes's Vento; Haynes was launched on to two wheels and broke a trackrod.

13 JULY 2003


Shaun Hollamby claimed his maiden Volkswagen Racing Cup victories, taking twin wins at his home circuit of Brands Hatch.

Hollamby and his Big Boys Toys-backed Beetle RSi headed home Rob Carvell's Golf GTI to claim narrow wins in both of the day's exciting races, with Rob claiming sufficient points to unseat his younger brother, Ian, from the championship lead.

Ian Carvell was in threatening form in qualifying, claiming pole position for the third meeting in succession in his turbocharged Lupo. But his hopes of claiming a fifth successive race win were dashed half-way through race one when he was forced into the pits for attention to a flapping passenger window; he finished 19th and was forced to start race two from near the back of the grid.

All of this played perfectly into the hands of Kent-based Hollamby, the 37-year-old having already driven around the outside of Ian Carvell into Paddock Hill Bend to claim an early race one lead. Ian fought back valiantly until lap five, when brother Rob intervened by way of a daring manoeuvre to pass him for second on the inside at Surtees.

Ian regain the position next time around through Druids, but was shortly after summoned to the pits with his window problem. That left Rob in sole charge of upholding family honour... But though he chased leader Hollamby all the way to the flag, there was no way past. Shaun was less than two-tenths clear at the line in what was the closest finish of the season.

Ray MacDowall's ECM Beetle was a solid third, with Lloyd Allard, making an impressive championship debut, fourth in his diesel-powered Golf. Elton Sheldon took fifth in another Beetle ahead of Dan Taylor's Vento, Martin Rutherford's Citygate Beetle and the Vento VR6s of Mark Hope and George Haynes. Dave Turner was next up to make it five Beetles in the top 10.

Ken Lark's Corrado retired from a certain fourth on the final lap with an electrical problem, while Craig Inskip's superb qualifying form - he started third on the grid in his Golf - came to nothing after gearbox failure brought him to a halt on the third lap.

Race two had all the makings of a classic, with Hollamby and Rob Carvell side by side on the front row of the grid and some swift cars, including those of Ian Carvell, Lark and Inskip, forced to start from the back. So it proved, with Ian making startlingly quick progress through the field in the early laps.

The little Lupo broke into the top 10 on the opening lap and was up to fifth by lap five. Next time around he disposed of Allard to take up fourth, right on MacDowall's tail. For the remaining eight laps there ensued a fierce fight for third, with canny MacDowall matching Carvell's every move. A lurid moment through the Druids hairpin cost the junior Carvell some time and he had to settle for fourth.

Rob Carvell's battle with Hollamby for race victory was no less intense, the matter settled in Shaun's favour two laps from home when they touched exiting Paddock; Rob's Golf snaked through the gravel but regained the circuit unscathed, Hollamby by this time a couple of seconds up the road.

"It was a very close fight," conceded Shaun, "hard but fair. I'm delighted with my weekend's work. It's the first time we've really been on the pace and it bodes well for the rest of the season."

Allard took fifth, shadowed by Sheldon and Taylor, with Lee Wharton claiming eighth, his best result of the season, ahead of Rutherford and the charging Mark Smith, his Bora well on song after first-race gearchange problems.

With four rounds remaining, the title fight couldn't be closer: Rob Carvell now leads brother Ian by six points, with Hollamby rocketing into third overall thanks to judicious playing of his Joker card at Brands.

27 JULY 2003


Racing brothers Ian and Rob Carvell settled one argument in the Volkswagen Racing Cup - whose surname will be inscribed on the champion's trophy.

For with Ian scoring a win and a second place in the ninth and 10th rounds of the championship today at Croft, and Rob a top-four finisher in both, it's now a mathematical certainty that one of them will take the title.

Twenty-six-year-old Ian, the reigning champion, leads his elder brother by a slender six points, and the scene is set for a dramatic sibling shoot-out at the final rounds at Snetterton in September.

While the Carvells celebrated at Croft, the biggest cheers were reserved for Nick Beaumont, whose drive to victory in the first race of the day was an almost superhuman feat of bravery. Unable to walk without the aid of crutches after suffering a serious ankle injury, Nick ignored immense pain to beat Ian Carvell to the chequered flag and rack up his maiden Racing Cup victory.

With only eight laps of qualifying under his belt, Beaumont went into the race not knowing whether his ankle would take the strain of the 25-mile sprint, but his Golf VR6 set off in game pursuit of the pole-sitting Lupo GTI of Ian Carvell nonetheless.

Ian and his Crowsons and Jabbasport-backed car tried valiantly to shake off Beaumont but the Cheshire man drove through the pain barrier to cling on for six laps. Next time around he made his move, slingshotting past the Lupo into Tower Bend.

For the remaining five laps Carvell tried everything he knew to find a way back into the lead but Beaumont held on in front, crossing the line less than half a second ahead.

"I was in a lot of pain," said Nick, "but once I got past Ian that didn't seem to bother me." Added Ian: "When Nick got past I pulled alongside him again into the Jim Clark Esses but I saw a yellow warning flag and had to back off. It was a great battle."

Carvell and Beaumont had the lead to themselves, able to make a break on the opening lap after a series of incidents delayed their pursuers.

Away from the grid, the Beetles of Ray MacDowall and Shaun Hollamby collided - fortunately with little damage - but then MacDowall clashed with the spinning Golf TDI of Lloyd Allard at the Chicane, both men's cars sidelined on the spot.

The recovering Hollamby picked his way through the carnage to take up third, and held on to it all the way to the flag.

The battle for fourth was an exciting one, with Rob Carvell making the best of handling problems with his Mk I Golf GTI to overcome Mark Smith's Bora and Dan Taylor's Vento VR6. Smith was soon in mechanical bother and slipped back, but Taylor held on to fifth at the end.

A mercurial drive from Tadcaster's Lee Wharton saw him climb from 12th on the opening lap to sixth in his Golf Turbo, earning himself the Dread Driver of the Day award. The top 10 was rounded out by George Haynes, Alex Dziurzynski, Martin Rutherford and Ken Lark.

Race two was a stunner also, with four cars locked in battle for victory throughout. Ian Carvell made a blinding grid getaway to lead from Hollamby and Rob Carvell, with Beaumont slipping to fourth.

Nick was soon on the move, displacing Rob from third place on lap three and setting about Hollamby for second. It all went wrong for Shaun on lap nine, when he tried to dive down Ian Carvell's inside for the lead as they exited the Hairpin. His Beetle's front wing brushed the Lupo's rear and, while Ian was barely delayed by the incident, Hollamby lost ground and that allowed both Beaumont and Rob Carvell to thunder past.

Ian Carvell crossed the line for his fifth race win of the year just over a second ahead of Beaumont, with Rob third and a dejected Hollamby six seconds further back in fourth place.

Rutherford fought past Taylor for fifth in the closing stages, with Dan just managing to salvage sixth on the final lap after an attack from Wharton. Lark was eighth ahead of Haynes and Allard, who had started from the back after hurried pre-race repairs to his Golf.



The final rounds of the 2003 Volkswagen Racing Cup provided not only the drama with which the championship has become synonymous but also some great racing at the ultra-fast Snetterton circuit in Norfolk.

Rob Carvell claimed the championship crown after his brother Ian - his only title rival - crashed heavily in qualifying. The day's other big winner was John Irvine, who ended what had hitherto been a miserable season with twin wins in his Scirocco GTI.

Edinburgh-based Irvine, brother of former BTCC racer Hamish, had previously seen his hopes of race glory dashed at every attempt by engine gremlins but was in fine form in qualifying, posting second-best time to line up on the front row of the grid for race one alongside the Golf VR6 of Nick Beaumont.

But it was the Corrado VR6 of Ken Lark - last year's Snetterton victor - which seized the race lead at the outset. Lark blasted away from row two to overhaul both Beaumont and Irvine before the pack reached Riches Corner.

Lark held on in front for three laps before being ousted from top spot by the rejuvenated Bora Turbo of Mark Smith, a fresh engine working wonders for the car's speed and reliability.

Irvine soon followed Smith's example to demote Lark to third and, within two laps, went on to snatch the lead with a brave manoeuvre through Riches. Smith chased Irvine all the way to the chequered flag to finish two-and-half seconds behind jubilant John.

"It just shows that the Scirocco has had the potential all along," said Irvine, "and it helped that I love driving at Snetterton." It was his maiden Racing Cup victory and he became the fifth different winner of the season.

Lark's hopes of a top-three result faded with his Corrado's handling as the race wore on, and Beaumont sliced past him for third with five laps to run.

Rob Carvell, whose Golf fell to 12th on the opening lap when delayed by the spinning Beetle of Ray MacDowall, staged a dramatic fight through the pack to finish in fifth place, four seconds adrift of Lark, and set the seal on his championship victory.

John Quartermaine enjoyed his first race in his Golf to take sixth ahead of George Haynes's Vento, the misfiring Golf of Craig Inskip, Stuart Amphlett's Golf and Dan Taylor's Vento VR6. Daily Telegraph motoring writer Jason Barlow put in an excellent maiden race appearance to claim 11th in the Golf R32.

Unluckiest retirement was that of Lloyd Allard, who had been going great guns until the final lap in his Golf TDI, snapping at Lark's heels, but who was hobbled by a hub failure.

Race two promised another great Irvine/Smith battle, Mark charging into an early lead and opening out a slender lead by the second lap. It all went wrong for Smith on lap four, however, when a fuel line came adrift and his Bora coasted to a halt. That left Irvine well out in front and able to cruise to his second win of the day.

Beaumont held second for much of the race but fell into the clutches of the determined Lark two laps from the end, Ken nipping through at Riches. At the flag, Lark was 1.8 seconds behind Irvine and 0.8 seconds ahead of Beaumont, whose points haul for the day was enough to net him third place overall in the championship. Rob Carvell was fourth and Taylor fifth to secure an excellent fifth overall in the championship in his first season of racing.

The Beetles of MacDowall and Martin Rutherford started from the back of grid but fought through to sixth and seventh respectively, with Haynes, Kerr Robertson (Beetle) and Paul Lloyd-Roach (Golf TDI) rounding out the top 10. Barlow finished 12th, behind the Beetle of Steve Dorrell.