VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP RACE REPORTS 08
24 MARCH 2008
ACTION ALL THE WAY DESPITE THE SNOW AT OULTON PARK
The dire Easter weather tried but failed to dampen the excitement of the opening rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup at Oulton Park, with spectators enjoying two enthralling battles against the elements by a quality field.
There were surprises galore - including two podium finishes for the entertaining Caddy TDI, its best-ever results - a tactically brilliant race win for Steve Wood and his Hankook-shod Golf GTI, and a dominant second-race victory in the snow for Paul Taylor's Golf R32.
Oulton Park was also notable for the world racing debut of the Jetta TSI Sport. The 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged saloon was raced by evo editor Jethro Bovingdon, who scored an excellent 10th-place finish despite a spin in race one and then stole through to fifth in race two.
Jethro was impressed by the Jetta: 'It shows great promise and it's really well balanced. With development work it will be a really quick car and ought to be a frontrunner.'
A steady downpour of sleet was the pre-race one welcome for drivers and the unseasonable weather gave many a tyre-choice dilemma. Alex Dziurzynski, whose Corrado upset the formbook in Saturday's qualifying to nab pole position by eight-hundredths of a second, opted to start the race on slick Hankooks, as did Taylor, alongside him on the front row in his Golf R32. Among those opting for wet-weather rubber were Wood, who figured that starting from seventh on the grid he had little to lose by gambling.
It proved to be a brilliant choice by Wood, whose Travis Perkins-backed Golf GTI overhauled five cars on the opening lap and then deposed the fast-starting Taylor from the lead the next time around. Paul had an advantage with his car's four-wheel drive but nonetheless found the going tricky, and Dziurzynski was managing literally to keep a loose grip on third.
A two-lap safety car period, brought about when John Quartermaine crashed his Golf into the Old Hall Corner tyre wall, gave Wood another lucky break. With the track drying rapidly his grooved Hankooks were beginning to suffer; the reduced pace of the safety car laps were just what he needed to preserve them.
At the restart Wood blasted away once more from his pursuers and on to a 4.9-second win over Taylor. It was his first race victory since 2006 and was due entirely to tyre choice, he said: 'I made a late choice to switch to wets and thankfully it was the right call. They lasted really well.' Taylor reckoned that if the race had been a couple of laps longer there might have been a different result: 'As the track dried my car was getting quicker and quicker, but I just ran out of laps…'
Another wet tyre-shod machine claimed third place - the amazing TDI-powered Caddy in the hands of evo journalist Roger Green. He took full advantage of the slippery conditions to haul the van up from 10th on the grid to fourth place after the restart, then snatched third from Alex Dziurzynski's grasp with a brave manoeuvre through Lodge two laps from home.
It was the first ever podium finish for the Caddy. 'I lucked in on the conditions, really,' said Green, 'by switching to wet tyres at the last minute. It was fantastic fun but really slippery out there.'
Yards after losing third Dziurzynski was in further bother as he and the TDI Golf of championship newcomer James Walker (younger son of 2007 race winner Richard) came together at Old Hall; Alex's Corrado left the circuit but James was able to continue, and to hold on to fourth ahead of Joe Fulbrook's slick-shod Bora.
The younger Dziurzynski, Adrian, claimed sixth in his Golf ahead of Steve Chaplin's Beetle, Mike Kurton's Golf and veteran Barrie Culley, whose Vento VR6 adopted an unusual slick front/wets rear tyre configuration which worked well enough to propel him from 19th on the grid to ninth at the chequered flag.
Bovingdon placed 10th in the Jetta; he would have finished higher up the order but for an early spin induced by a power steering glitch. Giles Lock's Caddy was 11th and the Keith Garages-backed Beetle of championship newcomer Nick Dunn 12th.
Another series debutant, 17-year-old James Griffiths, endured a baptism of fire: with his new Golf GTI unready to race, the Cheshire driver drove an unfamiliar V6 Golf instead, and his steady drive up to 12th came to a gyrating end after five laps.
The Easter weather was even more unkind in race two, with bright pre-event sunshine lulling all on to slick tyres. The heavens opened after only three laps and the sleet flurries not only made the track treacherously slippy but also reduced visibility dramatically. The red flags were flown to halt the race after just five laps, before a serious accident spoiled proceedings.
It was Taylor who made the best start and whose four-wheel-drive Taylor Heating-backed Golf was best suited to the conditions. Paul sliced through to the front from row three of the grid well before reaching the first corner, Old Hall, and sped effortlessly into the middle distance.
Green was meanwhile staging another remarkable performance at the helm of the Caddy, moving into second on the opening lap before being pushed back down the order by Adrian Dziurzynski and Fulbrook next time around. Adrian's Golf lost second to Fulbrook on the third lap and lasted for only a further two more tours before it was forced on to the sidelines, which left Fulbrook cruising to a relatively easy second behind Taylor. Green was once again third. 'It was a really exciting race,' said Roger, 'and in the conditions was mostly about just trying to stay on the track. But it was great fun and I'd love to come back and do it again.'
Walker took fourth again in the Chek Whyte Industries-backed Golf TDI, with Bovingdon bringing home the new Jetta an impressive fifth, ahead of Chaplin, Kurton, Jamie Perry in his new and teething problem-beset Golf GTI, Barrie Culley and Peter Wyhinny's Polo.
Race one winner Wood endured all sorts of problems: his Golf's throttle started playing up on the warming-up lap, forcing him to the pits to stop and restart the engine, which cured it. Forced then to start well after the rest had departed, he overcooked it in his pursuit and lost even more time; 11th, just ahead of Tony Harberman's Golf, was a good result in the circumstances.
Young James Griffiths kept out of trouble on this occasion, bringing his Golf home 18th at his home circuit.
26 MAY 2008
ROCKINGHAM WINS FOR WALKER & PERRY AS CADDY SHINES
Another two names were added to the Volkswagen Racing Cup 2008 winner list, with Golf drivers James Walker and Jamie Perry claiming a victory apiece at Rockingham Motor Speedway on a day beset by changeable weather and tricky tyre choices.
Walker's win in his Golf TDI - the first for a turbodiesel in the Hankook-backed championship since 2006 - promotes the Nottinghamshire youngster to the top of the points standings. Less than 20 points covers the championship top four in what is proving to be a highly unpredictable and competitive season.
Heavy rain blighted Sunday's qualifying session but played right into the hands of the Dziurzynski brothers, who laid claim to the front row of the grid with a virtuoso performance in the atrocious conditions. Younger sibling Adrian and his Golf GTI took the pole with a time a tenth better than that of Alex's Corrado. Third fastest time went to Paul Taylor and his R32 Golf, more than 1.7s adrift.
A wet but drying track and a cloudy, threatening sky presented the field with a tyre choice dilemma on Monday morning. The brothers Dziurzynski called it wrong and opted for wet Hankooks, while Taylor and others gambled correctly on slicks. Oulton Park race victor Paul took command of the race through Turn 1 and was quick to build a healthy lead as the Dziurzynskis faded.
Adrian's Golf held on in second for four laps; it was not his tyres which ended his run, in fact, but engine problems. He ceded second to Perry on lap five (of 13), Jamie enjoying a superb run in his Keith Garages-backed Force 10 Golf GTI after starting from 16th. Tenth by the end of the opening lap, Perry's slick-shod machine made further gains on each successive lap.
Perry had James Walker right in his wheeltracks, and their battle for second became a tussle for the lead with three laps to go when Taylor slipped back and into their clutches as the result of a slowly deflating front tyre. Walker first found a way past his more experienced rival Perry at the Tarzan hairpin on lap seven, then missed a gear and was repassed before finally managing to make the move stick two laps later.
Walker - who was contesting only his third saloon car race - took his Chek Whyte Industries-backed Golf to a 2.1s victory and was delighted: 'My tyres came in perfectly after about three laps and then it was a great fight with Jamie… I'm really pleased.'
Third and fourth went respectively to Joe Fulbrook (Bora) and Martyn Culley (Vento VR6), both of whom had started from the back. They fought tooth and nail with each other, and with Peter Whyinny's Caddy TDI, throughout the closing laps. Wyhinny's hopes of taking fourth ended at the Brook chicane on the final lap when Culley biffed the van out of his way, but despite a subsequent stall SEAT boss Peter managed to recover in time to claim fifth.
James Walker's father, Richard, had looked a safe bet for at least third place in his V6 Golf until engine gremlins set in towards the end; he hung on to take sixth ahead of promising 17-year-old James Griffiths, who was having his maiden outing at the wheel of his new Golf GTI. Nick Dunn picked his way through the field to take eighth (from 21st on the grid) in his Beetle, with Taylor limping home ninth ahead of the Golfs of John Quartermaine and Mike Kurton. Sam Maher-Loughnan's hobbling wet-tyred Polo placed 12th.
It was wetter on Monday afternoon for the second race - perfect weather for Hankook wets, in fact. Problem was, there were those on the grid who opted for slicks or a slick/wet combination, like Taylor, who rocketed off row five to take the lead into Turn 1.
Perry meanwhile, with a full set of wets on board, shot away from the third row similarly quickly to take away top spot from Taylor into the second corner, the Deene hairpin. It was a masterly manoeuvre from Jamie, who went on to make the best of his tyres while he could, in the early laps, to build a lead of in excess of 12 seconds.
Taylor soon found he couldn't make his tyre combination work and slid back down the order as the wet-tyred cars, notably those of Fulbrook, Wyhinny and Alex Dziurzynski, came to the fore. This trio kept the bedraggled spectators on their toes for lap after lap as they swapped places, with Wyhinny driving like a man possessed as he fought to thrust the Caddy between the Bora and Corrado. Peter made it up to second on the seventh lap and then banged in fastest lap after fastest lap, sensing that Perry's lead was there to be demolished.
Jamie knew he was in trouble: 'The tyre choice was a really tough call. I went for full wets and they were great early on but I knew they wouldn't last. It was really scary seeing the van bearing down on me…'
The Caddy latched on to the Golf's tail entering the final lap and Wyhinny tried everything to find a way past. Perry had just enough grip left in his tyres to hang on for victory by four-tenths, however. Wyhinny was far from downcast at having achieved the Caddy's best-ever finish: 'That was the best time of my life,' he said, 'completely exhilarating.'
Alex Dziurzynski made up for his first-race disappointment with third place, and Fulbrook snatched back fourth from James Walker on the final lap. Kurton placed sixth ahead of Griffiths, Taylor, Maher-Loughnan, Paul Lloyd-Roach's Beetle, Quartermaine and Dunn. Car magazine journalist Ben Barry, who spun out of his race debut earlier in the day, placed 16th in the Europcar Golf GTI.
8 JUNE 2008
DOUBLE TOP FOR FULBROOK AT SNETTERTON
Joe Fulbrook rocketed into the lead of the Volkswagen Racing Cup today thanks to twin wins at Snetterton at the wheel of his turbocharged Bora. Joe took the first of them on the final lap after shooting to the front of a four-car fight, and then had the second win drop almost in his lap when leader Jamie Perry struck car trouble almost within sight of the flag.
The long Snetterton straights always make for superb slipstreaming action, and the first of the day's races in the Hankook-backed championship provided plenty of it, with four cars battling for victory for much of its distance and three different leaders.
The 2006 champion, Paul Taylor, made one of his customary dramatic starts in his four-wheel-drive Golf R32, slicing from row two of the grid between front-row men Adrian Dziurzynski (Golf GTI) and Fulbrook to take up an early lead.
But Hertfordshire-based Taylor was not allowed to escape, Bournemouth boy Dziurzynski keeping close tabs on him and even pulling alongside him on the main straight on a couple of occasions. Perry's Keith Garages-backed Golf GTI was close behind in third and Fulbrook was soon on the tail of the leading trio to join in the fun.
Taylor kept his pursuers stopped up like a cork in a bottle until the 12th lap, when Dziurzynski nipped through on the inside at the Sear right-hander to lift the lead, and he was followed through by both Fulbrook, who had earlier snatched third, and Perry. Taylor, whose Golf suffered suspension damage when it touched the Dziurzynski Golf, fell to fifth as Martyn Culley's Vento sped past also.
With impeccable timing Fulbrook went to on to liberate the lead from Dziurzynski at the Bombhole on the same lap - well timed because the red flags would soon be flying to bring a slightly early end to proceedings after Culley's car shed a rear wheel and came to rest in an awkward spot on the exit to the Russell chicane.
Fulbrook took the win, his first of the season, by a shade less than a second from Dziurzynski; it was Adrian's best result since his second place at Oulton Park at the start of the 2007 season. Perry came home third and Taylor, perhaps fortunate the race had been curtailed, fourth.
The top three were unanimous that it had been a fantastic battle: 'It was the best race I have ever had,' said Fulbrook. 'I was hanging back a bit waiting for something to happen to the cars in front, but nothing much did, so I thought I had better put the hammer down. The car was superb, all credit to my team.'
'It was awesome,' agreed Dziurzynski, 'and it is great to be back on the podium again…'
Seventeen-year-old James Griffiths put in another mature drive in his Golf GTI, lifting sixth from the experienced hands of Steve Chaplin at Riches on the eighth lap; he was promoted to fifth by Culley's demise, with Chaplin's 'Herbie' Beetle taking sixth ahead of the Golf GTIs of Mike Kurton and Liam Griffin.
Doug Ross scored his best-ever result with ninth in his Polo and Giles Lock streaked to 10th in the Classic Caddy TDI, ahead of the Beetles of Nick Dunn and championship returnee Steve Dorrell. Among the unhappy non-finishers was erstwhile championship leader James Walker, whose turbo blew.
Race two was no less dramatic, not least for Taylor, who tried another straight-through-the-middle manoeuvre from the second row of the grid. Unfortunately for Paul he chose to go for a small gap which was getting smaller by the tenth of the second as front-row men Griffiths and Chaplin moved together, and the three cars collided with an almighty bump. Both Taylor and Griffiths were forced to the pits for lengthy repairs; Chaplin continued in second place as Perry took advantage of the drama to claim a handsome early lead.
A lengthy Safety Car period, brought about after the cars of Dziurzynski and Walker touched on the Revett straight on the third lap as they disputed fourth, and Adrian piled off into the barriers, shaped the course of the race in more ways than one. Perry's useful lead over Fulbrook was wiped by it and then, at the restart, Jamie's Golf failed him. 'The driveshaft just snapped,' said a disappointed Perry, 'and I fear it could have cost me the championship.'
Thus Fulbrook inherited the lead and, with Chaplin and Walker squabbling over second place, staying out front was a relatively easy task for Joe. He won by half a second and profited further still thanks to playing his points-doubling Joker card. 'We lucked out a bit in that one,' said Fulbrook. 'A few people didn't make the start and some fell by the wayside… But my car was awesome.'
Chaplin was passed by Walker on the penultimate lap but fought back to second by the end to equal his and Herbie's best-ever Racing Cup result. Griffin, new to the championship this season, claimed an excellent fourth in the Addison Lee Golf, with Mr Consistent Kurton doing his championship hopes further good with another top-five finish.
Naked ambition drove Lock to sixth place, his and his old Caddy's best-ever result, with Dunn seventh ahead of Dorrell, Michael McInerney's Europcar Golf and Chris Adams in the Golf TDI 4motion. Eleventh and claiming his second race finish of the day - in only his second saloon car race - was Autosport.com journalist Glenn Freeman at the wheel of the new Jetta TSI Sport.
29 JUNE 2008
PERRY & TAYLOR THRILL THEIR WAY TO VICTORY AT THRUXTON
Two superbly exciting Thruxton Volkswagen Racing Cup events brought the Hampshire circuit's British F3/GT meeting to life as Golf drivers Jamie Perry and Paul Taylor shared the victory honours. A brace of podium finishes for Bora man Joe Fulbrook ensured his continued hold on the lead on the Hankook-backed championship.
Perry's first-race victory was not only a tactical masterstroke but also the result of a technical rethink by his team. After Jamie's Golf broke a driveshaft and cost him victory at Snetterton last time out, Force Ten Motorsport opted to remap the engine and reduce overall power, handing Perry the dual benefits of being able to run at a lower class weight and imposing less strain on the drivetrain.
Jamie's Keith Garages-backed machine shot from second on the grid past pole-sitter Fulbrook into the first corner, Allard, and quickly built a small lead, but Jamie was careful not to overdo it: 'I have learned to read Joe's style,' said Perry. 'He was hoping that I would disappear off in front and use my tyres up so that he could catch me at the end, so I knew that I had to be careful to conserve my tyres too.'
A second-lap crash involving three cars brought out the Safety Car for a two-lap spell, which aided Perry's tyre preservation efforts. The crash came at the Campbell/Cobb/Segrave complex of corners as Martyn Culley's Beetle, the Golf of James Griffiths, and Auto Express writer Owen Mildenhall, taking a turn at the wheel of the new Jetta TSI Sport, disputed eighth place.
A late-breaking manoeuvre by 18-year-old Griffiths brought him into contact with Culley, who spun through 180 degrees and collided head on with Mildenhall. Both the Beetle and the Jetta were badly damaged; Griffiths was able to continue but he was later excluded from fifth place by stewards for his part in the incident. Culley suffered a bruised shoulder in the impact but there were no other injuries.
The restart brought the expected challenge from Fulbrook. Joe had been happy to hold third behind Perry and Adrian Dziurzynski's Golf GTI in the early laps but the run up Woodham Hill provided him with the perfect opportunity to move past Dziurzynski and up to second, right on Perry's tail.
Jamie responded to Joe's every challenge, without overplaying his hand, until the 12th and penultimate lap, when Fulbrook erred. 'I was trying really hard,' said Joe, 'and then I went wide and right off on to the grass. It was then that I decided that I had better settle for second.'
Fulbrook had also to defend his second place from the increasingly enthusiastic attentions of Steve Chaplin, whose 'Herbie'-liveried Beetle was on top form. Chaplin lifted fifth from Liam Griffin's Golf on the second lap, and then fourth when Paul Taylor ran well off the circuit out of Church. His next target was Dziurzynski, who was dispatched within two laps as Chaplin set fastest lap after fastest lap on his way to a new circuit record.
Perry crossed the line for his second win of the season half a second clear of Fulbrook, with Chaplin nine-tenths further back for third place and another podium finish for Herbie. 'It's a wonderful feeling,' said Steve. 'We've done a lot of work to the car and it's beginning to pay off.'
Dziurzynski lacked the pace to stay with the leading trio but was a long way clear in fourth and happy with his result. Following the exclusion of Griffiths, Mike Kurton was promoted to fifth - turbo problems doing little to hamper the progress of his Golf GTI from 12th on the grid. Relative novice Griffin continued his excellent recent form in the Addison Lee-backed Golf GTI; he was beaten to fifth by Kurton by only half a second.
Peter Wyhinny's Caddy TDI placed seventh, well ahead of the recovered Taylor, whose sixth-lap off was caused by the sudden loss of an anti-roll bar. 'Something shifted and I was a passenger at the fastest part of the circuit,' said Paul. 'I still don't know how I avoided hitting anything.'
Barrie Culley's Vento placed ninth, ahead of James Walker's TDI Golf, which had had to make a brief pit stop for an ECU reset, the Beetles of Paul Lloyd-Roach (who slowed at the end with a 'box full of neutrals) and Nick Dunn, and the Europcar Golf of Michael McInerney. John Quartermaine and Giles Lock joined Mildenhall and Martyn Culley in retirement.
Race two was a stunner all the way from the lights to the finish line, with the result in doubt right up to (and including) the final corner and less than half a second covering the top three at the chequered flag in what was the best event of the whole Thruxton meeting.
By dint of his sixth place finish in the first race, Griffin started from the pole. Alas Liam's first experience of leading from the front was a brief and unhappy one - a shove from the pursuing Taylor, who had made a typically swift getaway from eighth on the grid, sent the Addison Lee car spinning at the complex. Griffin plunged to the back of the field
Taylor, his first-race suspension dramas rectified, found himself well in front after this incident. By the first lap's end, Paul's Golf R32 was nearly two-and-a-half seconds clear of Perry, with Dziurzynski holding third from Kurton, Fulbrook, Walker and Chaplin.
It took a charging Perry seven laps to get on terms with Taylor. Fulbrook was right behind him, Joe having passed Kurton and Dziurzynski for third on lap two, and the scene was set for a dramatic final five laps…
On lap eight Fulbrook shattered Chaplin's lap record and then swept past Perry for second next time around at Brooklands. Joe lowered the lap record yet again on lap 10 but was ambushed by Perry into the Club chicane on the penultimate tour and pushed back to third once more. Taylor's grip on the lead was looking ever more shaky as Paul battled against not only his two determined rivals but also severe tyre wear.
In the end it came down to a final-tour drag race up Woodham Hill with the three of them arriving abreast at the chicane. Fulbrook took the outside line and looked to have pulled the manoeuvre off as he nipped past his rivals for the lead. But Joe had left his braking a fraction too late, locked up and bounced over the kerbs, allowing Taylor and Perry to regain positions one and two.
'I just missed my braking point,' said a far from disappointed Fulbrook. 'It was a great race, one of the best I have ever had…' Joe retains the championship lead.
'It was a superb race,' agreed Taylor, 'and it could have gone one of three ways. My tyres were all but used up and I doubt I could have hung on for another lap.'
Taylor, Perry and Fulbrook finished 10 seconds clear of the pack, such was their dominance. Chaplin took fourth, having battled back from seventh past Kurton, Walker and Dziurzynski to take a useful haul of points thanks to playing his 'Joker' card.
Dziurzynski held on in front of a determined Walker for fifth, with Griffiths lifting seventh from Kurton and Griffin battling back from the tail end to ninth at the line. Barrie Culley, Lloyd-Roach, Lock, McInerney and Dunn completed the finishers, the latter two drivers enjoying a race-long duel continued from the first event. Wyhinny's race came to an end after just two laps with a broken driveshaft.
14 JULY 2008
PERRY & TAYLOR REPRISE THEIR WINNING WAYS
Thruxton race winners Paul Taylor and Jamie Perry repeated their Volkswagen Racing Cup victory parades at Brands Hatch, becoming the first men this season to score a third victory in the Hankook-backed championship. But Joe Fulbrook finished both Brands Hatch races near the front to maintain his healthy overall series lead and to set the scene for a fascinating close to the season.
Taylor's win came in the day's opener and was as lucky as it was impressive, for the Hertfordshire driver's Golf R32 finished with a broken suspension strut and the car was lucky even to make the end of the race. Taylor, the 2006 champion, started from pole position, ahead of Fulbrook's Bora Turbo, Steve Chaplin's 'Herbie' Beetle RSI and Perry's Golf GTI, and pulled cleanly away to establish a commanding early lead.
As his rivals squabbled over second, Taylor eased his advantage out to around four seconds and maintained that gap to the chequered flag, where he reaped a double helping of points thanks to playing his 'Joker' card. 'That was really good,' said Taylor, who had never won at Brands before. 'My car is carrying less success ballast than the others, and that helped, as did the fact that the other guys were fighting among themselves.'
It was certainly an entertaining battle for second: Perry held sway initially but found his chances hampered by poor handling as the race progressed. Chaplin found a way past the wayward Golf on the seventh of the 12 laps and eased away in the closing stages to secure runner-up spot and this third podium finish in as many meetings.
Perry tried 'everything in the book' to keep Fulbrook at bay and secure third for himself, and succeeded, even though Joe felt his car had superior pace: 'It's very difficult to pass cleanly here,' he said, 'and Jamie wasn't going to make it easy for me.'
Michael McInerney enjoyed a superb run in the Europcar Golf, from 13th on the grid to fifth at the chequered flag, his cause aided by a number of incidents and excursions for his rivals, which included a fiery exit for Adrian Dziurzynski's Golf GTI after it leaked power steering fluid on to the exhaust, and a collision between the Golfs of Mike Kurton and John Quartermaine, which ended the former's race and dropped Quartermaine down the order.
Paul Lloyd-Roach was another to score his best result of the season, in sixth ahead of Giles Lock's Caddy, Steve Dorrell's Beetle, Quartermaine and Chris Adams in the Golf TDI 4motion. Richard Kingsnorth returned to the championship at the wheel of a Golf R32; teething problems left him struggling for pace and he placed 11th, ahead of the Beetles of Dutch driver Peter Lettinga and Nick Dunn.
Autocar's Jamie Corstophine thoroughly enjoyed his first race outing in a decade at the wheel of the new Jetta TSI Sport, though a brief pit stop to investigate a misfire delayed him.
Taylor's luck in winning race one with a broken suspension strut was brought home to him on the opening lap of the second event when the strut on the opposite side of his Golf snapped and rendered his car undrivable. Paul had made an excellent start to slot into second place, behind Perry, who had made an even quicker getaway, and had been set to duel with him for the lead.
Perry was on a mission this time: 'I knew I had to get straight off the line and go straight to the finish of the race without lifting, and that's what I did!' By the end of the opening lap Jamie's Keith Garages-backed Golf was more than four seconds ahead of Fulbrook's Bora.
Chaplin liberated third from pole position man Lloyd-Roach on the second lap and was quick to set about Fulbrook for second. For lap after lap they circulated as if tied together by a short piece of elastic, with Fulbrook this time revelling in his role as defender. Though he could do nothing to stop Perry recording his third win of the season, Fulbrook had no intention of losing second: 'Steve and I had a great battle. It's fantastic to race with a guy who you can trust not to do anything silly. We respect each other's driving and it makes the racing all the better.'
Chaplin finished two-tenths behind Fulbrook for third and was a long way clear of fourth-placed Lloyd-Roach, who recorded another personal best for the season. Kurton made up for his first-race disappointments with fifth place, ahead of Adams, Dorrell, Lettinga and Dunn. Corstophine drove superbly for a relative rookie to bring the Jetta home 10th.
Kieran Griffin, deputising for his brother, championship regular Liam, drove his Golf GTI to 11th, which made up for retirement in race one with brake problems. Kieran finished ahead of Lock, Kingsnorth and Dziurzynski, who was delayed by a visit to the Druids hairpin gravel trap.
It was an agonising weekend for Caddy TDI driver Peter Wyhinny, whose first race ended with a total loss of power on the opening lap, and whose run to fifth on the road in race two ended in exclusion from the results following a collision with McInerney's Golf.
With four races remaining, the Volkswagen Racing Cup looks set for a grandstand finish. On paper Fulbrook holds a commanding points lead but Joe has scored well in every race so far and will have to discard his worst result, while Taylor and Perry both have a zero score on their record. And Perry is the only driver in the top four yet to play his Joker.
17 AUGUST 2008
FULBROOK & DZIURZYNSKI SHINE AT SILVERSTONE
The stage is set for a thrilling finale to the Volkswagen Racing Cup following the exciting Silverstone rounds of the Hankook-backed championship, from which championship leader Joe Fulbrook took a race win and, more importantly, twice finished ahead of his only remaining title rival, Jamie Perry.
Berkshire-based Bora driver Fulbrook heads to October's Donington denouement holding a 66-point advantage over Perry and his Golf GTI. There are 94 points on the table at Donington, and both men have everything to play for…
Neither Fulbrook nor Perry stood much of a chance in the first of the Silverstone races, despite Joe starting from the pole after an impressive qualifying session with his Warranty Direct-backed car. Fulbrook slipped to second on the opening lap behind the fast-starting Golf of championship returnee Steve Walker, and was then pushed back to third by the mercurial Adrian Dziurzynski and his Golf GTI.
Dziurzynski was on unstoppable form at the wheel of the oldest car on the grid, his confidence boosted by the knowledge that he was playing his points-doubling 'Joker' card. 'Didge' dodged past Walker with a clever manoeuvre at Priory on lap two and set about pulling clear of his pursuers. By the eighth of the 12 laps Dziurzynski held a 5.2s advantage…
Steve Walker's challenge faded along with his Golf's sticky brakes, which left the battle for second place to Fulbrook, James Walker in the TDI Golf, Perry and Steve Chaplin's 'Herbie' Beetle, with James Griffiths' Golf GTI joining the party in the closing laps.
Chaplin demoted Fulbrook from second with four laps to run, and narrowed the gap between himself and the victorious Dziurzynski to 1.4s by the end. But there was to be no denying Adrian his maiden race win after four seasons of trying. "It's fantastic to make the top step of the podium at last after so long knocking on the door," said the 25-year-old West End Precision team driver.
It was another youngster, 18-year-old Griffiths, who secured the final podium place, James lifting third from Fulbrook's grasp with two laps to go. "My team, SlideSports, set the car up perfectly. All the credit goes to them," said James, whose maiden top-three finish it was. Fulbrook was happy enough with fourth, just ahead of James Walker and two places clear of Perry.
After missing the Brands Hatch rounds, Liam Griffin returned to the fray in fighting form with his Addison Lee-backed Golf GTI to take seventh ahead of Paul Taylor's Golf R32, which was suffering with a throttle pedal-related problem, and debutant Sam Edwards, who put in a good showing with his fresh-from-the-box Golf GTI.
There was an entertaining battle for 10th which went the way of Peter Wyhinny's remarkable Caddy TDI despite intense pressure from the Jetta TSI Sport, which was in the hands of drivers-republic.com editorial director Chris Harris. Harris looked set to take 11th but was mugged on the line by Mike Kurton's GTI Golf. Chris nonetheless enjoyed his outing: "It's been great fun and I'm impressed by the Jetta, which is the first front-drive car I have raced."
Sixth place in race one earned Perry pole position for the second Silverstone, and this gave him the confidence to play his Joker card - the last of the championship top four to do so. Jamie and the Keith Garages-backed Golf romped into an early lead, but Fulbrook had no intention of letting Perry run away with things and made his first bid for the lead at Priory on the fourth lap. He was rebuffed on that occasion but managed to make the manoeuvre stick next time around.
Fulbrook's path to victory was far from easy, however. Chaplin nipped through to take the lead at Brooklands on lap six and held on in front for four laps until making an error which allowed Joe to regain the advantage. Chaplin then lost second to Perry with two laps to go.
After crossing the line half a second ahead, Fulbrook said: "My car was awesome in that race - better than me! Steve gave me some trouble but he made a small mistake under braking and I was able to get past." Added Chaplin: "So close and yet so far… I thought that I had that race in the bag."
Dziurzynski was close behind in fourth but alas fell foul of the scrutineer's scales post-race; his Golf was found to be marginally underweight in the second race and was excluded from the results. This handed fourth to Griffiths, who went well despite the loss of fourth gear. Taylor placed fifth, his car still not on top form, ahead of James Walker, Griffin and Martyn Culley's Vento VR6, which claimed a remarkable eighth despite starting from the back of the grid.
Kurton took ninth, finishing just ahead of Wyhinny on this occasion, with Paul Lloyd-Roach 11th. Edwards took 12th and then, yards after crossing the finish line, ended his race with a heavy impact in the barriers, coming off worst in a brush with the Golf of Michael McInerney. Harris's Jetta looked set for another strong result but was sidelined with a suspected driveshaft failure.
12 OCTOBER 2008
FULBROOK CLAIMS TITLE, KURTON & DZIURZYNSKI THE RACE WINS
Joe Fulbrook clinched the 2008 Volkswagen Racing Cup championship title at Donington Park, slithering to a 12th-place finish in the first of the day's races at the wheel of his Warranty Direct-backed Bora. It wasn't the triumphant podium finish with which Fulbrook might have liked to crown his championship glory but the points secured were enough to guarantee him the title.
Fulbrook was out of luck in race two also... The winners on the day were both debutant visitors to the top step of the podium: Golf GTI driver Mike Kurton, who drove brilliantly after choosing just the right type of Hankook tyre for the conditions in race one, and Corrado pilot Alex Dziurzynski, who led home his younger brother Adrian in race two for a family 1-2. Both races were outstandingly exciting, among the best of the British GT/F3 weekend, and were enjoyed by a bumper crowd.
The bright Donington sunshine misled many competitors into choosing slicks for the first of the day's outings, but the very damp track failed to dry as expected. Among those caught out in addition to pole-sitter Fulbrook was Joe's only rival for the title, Jamie Perry. The Bora of Fulbrook and Perry's Golf GTI reversed down the order as the cars on full wets, or a slick/wet combination, rose to the fore.
Alex Dziurzynski, whose West End Precision Corrado started from third on the grid, seized the lead into Redgate corner, with Kurton's BSS Pipelines-backed Golf dislodging Taylor from second before the first lap's end. Behind, Adrian Dziurzynski was making mercurial progress from the back of the grid in the oldest car in the field; by the end of lap one the Mk II Golf was up to 10th and, within a further three laps, he had seized third from Taylor.
As Kurton bore down on Alex Dziurzynski for the lead, so Adrian and James Walker's Golf GTI brought their battle for third closer to the frontrunners to make it a four-way dash for the flag in the closing stages. Alex held a slender advantage over Mike as they crossed the line to start the final lap, with James third and Adrian close behind for fourth.
Walker was very much a man on a mission, swooping past Kurton early in the lap to mount a major assault on Alex Dziurzynski for the lead. He tried his hardest at MacLeans only to find his attack repulsed by the determined Corrado driver. Kurton grabbed the chance to snatch second from Walker and then judged the final corner, the Goddards chicane, to perfection. He tucked in tight, selected a lower gear, and as his rivals scrabbled for grip on the outside, Mike put the power down and he sped across the line just under half a second clear of Alex.
'I had no idea whether it was the final lap or not,' said Kurton. 'I was just praying that I'd see the chequered flag, and there it was. It was a stunning race; it couldn't have been closer or more exciting.' Alex Dziurzynski was 'gutted' to have missed out on his maiden win.
Walker's decision to switch from turbodiesel to petrol power for the final meeting paid off with third ahead of Adrian Dziurzynski. James Griffiths drove well from 10th on the grid to fifth, just ahead of Tony Harberman, whose sixth-place finish was a best-ever result for his Golf VR6.
Taylor's four-wheel drive made up a little for being on the wrong tyres; he placed seventh ahead of Martyn Culley's Beetle, with Darren Blumson claiming an excellent and impressive ninth on his return to racing after six months away battling leukaemia. Perry had needed to win to have any hope of taking the title fight down to the wire, but 10th was the best he could manage on slicks, with Nick Dunn's Beetle taking 11th, just ahead of Fulbrook and his RP Motorsport team-mates Paul Lloyd-Roach and Giles Lock.
Fulbrook was pleased to have wrapped up the championship title with a race in hand. 'It's taken us four seasons to get here,' said Joe, 'and I'm delighted for my team. We had good pace right from the outset in 2005, and in fact we had the championship virtually in the bag last year until it all went wrong at the final meeting, but until this year we lacked consistency, and consistency is what is needed to succeed in this series. I hope very much that I'll be back to defend my title next year.' Fulbrook won three races on his way to the crown and made a further five podium visits.
Joe had high hopes of a season-closing race win but it all went wrong on the startline for the final Donington race when Griffiths stalled his Golf and the cars behind it on the grid were forced into avoiding action. Several made contact; Fulbrook's and Walker's cars were too severely damaged to continue.
Through the melee came Taylor to lead, despite a broken four-wheel-drive system. 'The car seemed to go OK with front-drive only,' said Taylor, 'so I just carried on and hoped for the best...' Alex Dziurzynski was the man with designs on top spot, however, his Corrado dislodging Kurton from fourth on lap three and moving into third two laps later as he followed sibling Adrian past Harberman's Golf.
Brotherly love went out of the window at Redgate on lap six when Alex pulled a brilliant move on Adrian to seize second. Taylor was 2.6s ahead at this stage but Dziurzynski rapidly narrowed that gap and, two laps later, when Taylor erred at MacLeans, Alex wasted no time in nipping through for the lead.
Taylor gave chase but his over-stressed Golf ran out of brakes at Redgate on the 11th lap and parked itself in the gravel. Harberman had suffered a similar problem and fate three laps earlier at MacLeans, which left the two Dziurzynskis and Kurton to sort out the podium between them.
This time there would be no denying Alex, who cruised to a six-second victory over his brother, his first win in six seasons of trying. 'It's fantastic to be standing here after all those races,' he said, 'and doubly brilliant to be on the podium with my brother.'
Perry was among those delayed by the startline shunt - he completed the first lap in 17th place - but Jamie fought back manfully to make it into the top 10 within three laps. He got the better of a superb battle with Liam Griffin's Golf GTI to claim fourth at the flag, securing the championship runner-up slot into the bargain. Griffin finished well clear of John Quartermaine's GTI for fifth and a strong end to a successful debut season of racing.
Lloyd-Roach, Dunn, Barrie Culley and Giles Lock completed the top 10, with Blumson, another held up at the start, placing 11th and pleased with his weekend. 'It's been great to get back to racing,' said Darren. 'It feels like I've never been away.' Paul Wyhinny's Polo and Griffiths - who made a pit stop to investigate braking problems - were the only other finishers in what was a race of attrition.
Championship third went to Taylor, whose gravel trap visit turned out not to matter after his rival for third spot, Beetle driver Steve Chaplin, went out of the race with mechanical problems.