VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP RACE REPORTS 09
13 April 2009
WINS FOR TAYLOR & DZIURZYNSKI AT OULTON PARK SEASON OPENER
Two very different races saw wins for Paul Taylor and Didge Dziurzynski as the 2009 Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook roared into action at Oulton Park. Taylor enjoyed a straightforward race one win, despite mechanical issues, to lead the field home by a distance as his rivals hit problems, while Dziurzynski stayed just clear of his pursuers to claim an exciting victory in the second event.
For Dziurzynski it was a last-gasp victory for his venerable Mk II Golf GTI - he had been due to debut his new mount, a Mk IV machine, at Oulton before mechanical problems intervened. Oulton also marked the first appearance in the series of the new Scirocco, Liam Griffin claiming pole in his example for the opening race and Michael Kurton claiming third in that round to give the new car its first podium finish.
Griffin led the pack away at the start of race one but his lead was shortlived, the Addison Lee Scirocco getting out of shape through Old Hall Corner and spinning in the pack, fortunately without hitting anything. James Walker's Golf GTI, starting from the outside of the front row, was meanwhile swamped off the line by row two runners Martyn Culley and Taylor. The latter kept his momentum going to take the lead round the outside of the first corner.
The first corner dramas saw the field broken up at the front right away, Taylor leading at the end of the first lap well clear of Walker, who in turn was more than five seconds clear of Steve Chaplin's Beetle in third. A driveshaft failure sidelined Walker's Golf on lap two, handing Taylor a 10-second lead the experienced racer was never going to squander.
Fulbrook and then Peter Felix found ways past Chaplin, who next had pole man Griffin on his tail. Alas the Beetle and Scirocco clashed at Hislop's chicane, putting both cars out.
Fulbrook had the rapid Felix closing in, the latter's Golf setting new fastest laps on consecutive laps as it closed on the reigning champion's Bora. But just as a good battle looked likely, Felix pulled off with a suspension upright failure after contact, leaving Fulbrook well ahead of new third-placed runner Kurton.
With the first three well spread the order at the front stayed the same till the end, with Taylor taking the win despite losing fourth gear as the race progressed. With Fulbrook second, Kurton gave the new Scirocco GT its first podium finish on its race debut.
"I could see cars in my mirrors every now and then," said Taylor after a lonely race, "and I lost fourth gear, so I was changing from third to fifth and slipping the clutch. I was far enough in front to hold on, but I don't think we will be able to sort the gearbox before the second race so it will be a case of driving around and collecting points. But anyway, it's a good start to the season."
"It was exciting early on," said Fulbrook. "I saw a car spinning and people braking, and I had to take to the grass in avoidance. I kept the car straight and came back on in third, but when I got temperature in the tyres the car was good. We made a lot of changes to the car overnight which has got us back on the pace."
"We knew the Scirocco was quick as Liam put his car on pole," said a happy Kurton, "but I was a little more conservative and it paid off with a finish. We've done quite a lot of testing and it is now a very stable car and quick through the corners."
Behind the lead three the attention was on the battle for fourth between Dziurzynski, up from 20th on the grid, and the rapid Jamie Perry, who climbed up the order as the race progressed after starting from the pit lane, and just failed to take the position at the end.
Culley claimed sixth ahead of Andrew Smith's TDI Beetle, which enjoyed an encouraging race debut, Darren Blumson's Beetle RSI, Peter Wyhinny in the Caddy and championship newcomer Dan Crossley's Golf GTI.
Culley and Perry were on the front row for race two, the latter opting to start the race, as he had the first round, from the pit lane, his engine down on boost and the racer not wishing to be slow away with the entire grid behind him. Taylor's four-wheel drive saw him make a stunning getaway from row three, his missing gear not affecting him off the line, but Culley held sway and led at the end of lap one. His tenure at the front was short, however: the car was losing fluid and, after crossing the line ahead at the end of lap two, Martyn pulled off and parked the Vento.
That put Dziurzynski at the front in the oldest car in the field, but as he led into lap four he was met by the Safety Car, sent out after Griffin went off in his Scirocco at the Shell hairpin. Racing resumed with just less than seven minutes to go, Dziurzynski controlling the restart to lead from Taylor and Fulbrook, with Felix climbing up through the order to fifth behind Peter Wyhinny's Caddy on lap six.
Fulbrook claimed second through Cascades with three laps to go, but Dziurzynski held on at the front, the top three close together as they took the flag. In third was Felix, who set fastest lap on the last lap of the race but was unable to get past Fulbrook, after a drive from 17th on the grid. Sadly for Felix he was excluded from the results after post-race scrutineering.
"I had Joe and Peter really close behind me at the end," said Dziurzynski. "Paul Taylor was obviously struggling with gears, and I was lucky to slip past him when I did. I got a good start when the Safety Car went in, there was a lot of oil on the circuit which made it tricky - I was sideways a few times. We have the new car ready, but we have to take things as they come and we have proved that this car can still do it!"
"We were on the back foot with set-up at the start of the weekend," said Fulbrook after completing a double of second place finishes. "The team did well and told us where we were going wrong - but everyone else was starting from the back so it was a good time to play my Joker and double up my points. Two seconds with a car that is not 100 per cent - I'd have taken that at the start of the weekend."
Despite his missing fourth gear Taylor held on to take what would become third place, with Wyhinny in the Caddy fourth ahead of Kurton's Scirocco. Chaplin was another to come through the order, finishing sixth from 19th on the grid, with Perry seventh after his pit-lane start. Tim Snaylam, Andrew Smith and Darren Blumson completed the top 10.
1 June 2009
HERBIE DOES IT ON THE DOUBLE AT ROCKINGHAM
After three full seasons of trying, Herbie the Beetle and his long-serving driver Steve Chaplin finally made it on to the top step of the Volkswagen Racing Cup podium at Rockingham, and for good measure they won both of the day's races to scorch up the points leaderboard of the Hankook-backed championship.
Maisemore, Gloucestershire-based Chaplin, 44, had finished on the podium many times before but that first victory had always proved elusive. And last time out, at Oulton Park, the car took a battering.
But Steve showed his mettle in qualifying on Saturday, posting a time only three-hundredths of a second slower than that of the pole position man, his RP Motorsport team-mate and championship leader Joe Fulbrook.
In Sunday's first race it was Golf GTI driver James Walker who stole the advantage at the start, bundling his way through from sixth on the grid to unseat Chaplin from the lead at the Yentwood right-hander. Chaplin held station behind Walker for four laps before snatching the lead back from him at the Deene hairpin.
Fulbrook followed Chaplin's example in passing Walker next time around, the Bora driver then latching on to Herbie's tail and harassing him all the way to the chequered flag. Chaplin was more than a match for Fulbrook's attacks, however, and held on to take a popular victory by less than half a second.
"I think Herbie is more popular than me," said Chaplin on the podium. "It was hard out there with Joe harassing me all the way. It's our first win and it feels good."
"Steve and I had a very good race," added Fulbrook "I was catching him in certain places on the track and he was faster than me in other places. Fair play to Steve, he drove his socks off. We're over the moon and it's all good news for the championship."
James Walker finished close behind for third, with championship newcomer Peter Felix continuing to show strong form with fourth spot in his Golf. Richard Walker, James's father, placed fifth on his first outing in the Force 10 Motorsport Golf GTI, with Darren Blumson next up to make it two Beetles in the top six.
Another relative novice, Tim Snaylam, scored his best-yet result with seventh, ahead of former champion Paul Taylor, Martyn Culley and Kieran Griffin. Kieran's younger brother, Liam, was in the wars again in his new Addison Lee Motorsport Scirocco, losing a bundle of places after a collision on the opening lap and fighting back to an excellent fourth - breaking the circuit lap record on the way - before mechanical problems sidelined him for the rest of the weekend. The Scirocco of Mike Kurton was a non-finisher also.
Just to show his first race win was more than just luck, Chaplin's Beetle did the double in race two, after a hard early battle with Blumson.
Pole-sitter Blumson led the charge into Deene Hairpin from the start, with Chaplin second and James Walker's Golf shooting past Felix for third. Although Chaplin was soon in front, Blumson regained the advantage as they braked for Deene on the second lap.
The top five were already beginning to break away, with Fulbrook's Bora piling the pressure on Felix for fourth. Kieran Griffin's Golf headed the next group, and began to make strenuous efforts to bridge the gap to the quintet.
Through Turn One on the next lap Chaplin hit the front again, and this time it was decisive. Blumson tried to repass around the outside at Tarzan, but his wide line allowed James Walker to snatch second from him.
Blumson soon regained second place, but, as Chaplin consolidated his lead, Fulbrook was the man on the move. He nearly squeezed past Walker at Tarzan on lap four, before exiting Deene a lap later with the place secured. Felix was next to challenge Walker and claimed fourth into Deene on lap seven after a couple of earlier attempts.
Fulbrook's charge continued and, after a couple of laps shadowing Blumson, he claimed second through Chapman Curve. However, he was unable to make any inroads on Chaplin's dominance. "Once I managed to break the tow from Darren, I knew I would be all right," said Chaplin. "Especially if Joe had as much difficulty getting past him as I had."
"I had to back off as the water temperature went very high," said Fulbrook, who finished seven seconds behind Herbie at the chequered flag.
Blumson, Felix and James Walker held station behind, with Aaron Mason's Golf completing the top six, the novice demoting Kieran Griffin at Deene with a lap to go. The Golfs of Snaylam and Richard Walker finished eighth and ninth, with Didge Dziurzynski 10th to give his new Mk IV Golf an encouraging debut after overcoming a legion of teething problems in qualifying and race one. Oulton victor Paul Taylor ended his race in the Yentwood gravel on lap four.
A deserving winner of the Milltek 'spirit of racing' award went to Rockingham instructor Doug Ross, whose Polo failed a lap from the end of race one and which could not be coaxed into action for race two despite hours of toil in the paddock.
14 June 2009
FULBROOK & GRIFFIN CLAIM KNOCKHILL VICTORY SPOILS
Reigning Volkswagen Racing Cup champion Joe Fulbrook made a triumphant return to Knockhill, the scene of his maiden race victory, winning once again and increasing his points lead in the Hankook-backed series.
Fulbrook and his Warranty Direct-backed Bora Turbo won Saturday's fifth round, and finished second today in round six. The victor today was Liam Griffin, who gave the Addison Lee Scirocco GT its first race win.
Saturday's race enthralled a large and appreciative Scottish crowd and provided a three-way battle for the lead which was not settled in favour of championship leader Fulbrook until the final corner of the last lap, with both Griffin and Didge Dziurzynski vying for victory.
Fulbrook made the better start to overhaul Griffin into Duffus Dip, Liam having set the qualifying pace to claim his second pole position of the season. Dziurzynski started from third on the grid, behind Fulbrook, and repulsed an opening-lap attack from fast-starting Rockingham double winner Steve Chaplin to slot into third.
Try as he might, Fulbrook couldn't break clear of Griffin. But while Liam concentrated on attacking the leader, he left himself open to assault from Dziurzynski, who dived down the inside of the Scirocco at the hairpin to liberate second place for his Golf GTI on the fifth lap.
Three laps later and it was Fulbrook on the receiving end of a Dziurzynski manoeuvre, Didge shooting past for the lead through Duffus after getting a good run on the Bora man up the start/finish straight.
But just as Fulbrook couldn't break free when he led, so Dziurzynski struggled to make a break. Joe kept tabs on the Golf for 10 laps, just waiting for the opportunity to regain top spot - and all the while keeping a close eye on the shadowing third-place man Griffin.
Fulbrook seized his chance on lap 18 as they exited the hairpin. Dziurzynski ran a little wide, Fulbrook snuck up his inside, their cars kissed broadside and Joe was through and away. "It was my fault," said Didge. "I had no idea he was there until I turned in and we made very light contact." Alas for Dziurzynski the coming-together was enough to break his steering rack. He continued on to 12th, a poor reward for his efforts. "That would have been it for the weekend," Didge added, "but Steve Chaplin gave me a steering rack so that I could make race two, which was a great sporting gesture."
For the final three laps Fulbrook had to keep the ever-present Griffin behind him, which he managed to do to cross the line for his first victory of the season, half a second to the good. "This wasn't really my win," said Joe. "It was all down to RP Motorsport and the boys. They found the edge for me in testing, and without that time gained I wouldn't have been able to compete."
Chaplin's Beetle claimed third and the final podium place, ahead of James Walker's Golf and Mike Kurton's Scirocco, which was suffering from electrical gremlins.
Racing newcomer Aaron Mason continued his impressive run of form, this weekend in a Golf R32, to take sixth ahead of the Golf GTIs of Anna Walewska and Tim Snaylam, the latter racing only thanks to a Herculean effort by the RacingLine squad to replace an engine blown in Friday testing.
The Polo of Doug Ross claimed its best-ever result with ninth, ahead of Peter Wyhinny's power-sapped Caddy Sportline, championship newcomer Rob Daniels in the Addison Lee Golf, Dziurzynski and Robin Riley's TDI Golf. Andrew Smith's Beetle TDI was a non-finisher with turbo problems, while Peter Felix's race was ended after a nudge into the Duffus Dip gravel trap on lap four.
Today's race was every bit as dramatic, with Wyhinny's Caddy rolling out of the action at Duffus at the start of the second lap, helped on its way, thought Peter, by a nudge from behind. The Caddy came to rest in a gravel trap, Wyhinny unharmed, but the accident necessitated a four-lap safety car period, during which the field bottled itself up behind pole-sitter and early leader Aaron Mason.
Mason gamely held on in front for three laps in his R32 until his more experienced challengers bounced him down the order. First to go through was Chaplin, then, after a big lock-up from Mason into the hairpin, Griffin snuck past too. Next time around Liam made a dive down the leader's inside into the hairpin; Chaplin was having none of it, however, and repulsed the assault.
The very next lap Griffin tried again and this time succeeded in nosing ahead of the Beetle. Fulbrook, who had started sixth by dint of his first-race win and who had clawed his way through to third, followed Griffin past Chaplin to set the scene for a fight to the flag.
For four laps relative novice Liam led old hand Joe, but the Scirocco driver was more than a match for the champion in his Bora and held on in front, even though Fulbrook made a better fist of the final corner, to win by less than two-tenths of a second.
Liam, who had failed to record so much as a finish prior to the Knockhill weekend, was delighted: "I saw Joe behind me and I thought 'Don't panic, stay nice and calm'. The tyres were great, the car was going really well and I thought if I just drove my line then he wasn't getting past me. Our bad start to the season is all forgotten now, that's for sure."
Fulbrook had reason to be pleased also: with five second-place finishes and one win under his belt from six starts, Joe's championship lead is now up to 92 points and is beginning to take on a look of unassailability.
Chaplin took third place once more, a second ahead of Felix's Golf, the Derby man charging through from the back after his first-race off. Dziurzynski started from near the back too and, after an early clash of wheels with Walewska, took advantage of the safety car period to pit for safety checks. Given the OK, he rejoined the race and battled up to fifth, ahead of the Golfs of Mason, Snaylam and Daniels.
Doug Ross made the top 10 again in his Polo, with Smith, Riley and Walewksa completing the finishers list. James Walker joined Wyhinny in retirement, his Golf battered during an encounter with Griffin at the hairpin after the restart.
5 July 2009
GOLF VICTORIES AT SNETTERTON FOR DZIURZYNSKI & WALKER SNR
Didge Dziurzynski and Richard Walker claimed the victory honours in the Snetterton rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook, but there were dire problems for championship leader Joe Fulbrook, whose Bora crashed out of the running and who sees his points advantage cut virtually to nothing as a result…
Dziurzynski battled to a well-earned victory in round seven, demonstrating that his "new" Mk IV Golf GTI has quickly found race-winning pace. The result was all the more satisfying for Dziurzynski as his team had had to work overtime to repair a broken exhaust after Saturday's qualifying.
Dziurzynski had claimed pole by three tenths of a second from the Scirocco of Liam Griffin, with Steve Chaplin's Beetle - winner of both rounds of the Hankook-backed series at Rockingham earlier in the season - promoted to third spot after James Walker's Golf GTI was found to be underweight. Championship leader Joe Fulbrook lined up fourth in his Warranty Direct Bora Turbo.
At the green light it was the familiar sight of Paul Taylor's four-wheel-drive Golf R32 powering up the grid that set the agenda for the early part of the race, the Hertfordshire driver moving through from the third row to run side by side with Dziurzynski into the first corner, Riches. Their fight for the lead continued right through to the Esses, where Taylor was able to sneak ahead to lead at the end of the first lap, with Dziurzynski, Chaplin and the Golf of Richard Walker in close order behind.
Never less than half a second behind Taylor, Dziurzynski launched a definitive attack on lap four, swapping the lead with Taylor before nailing home his advantage as they crossed the line. There was no room for complacency, however, as Taylor, Chaplin, Richard Walker and Fulbrook were all right on the pace, joined by James Walker, who had cut through the field from last place to be challenging for fourth spot by the end of lap five and who was looking a hot prospect for a podium result. There was no such joy for his father, who spun as Fulbrook moved to pass at the end of the Revett Straight, dropping from fourth to eighth.
It proved a frustrating race for Liam Griffin, dropping from second on the grid to sixth by the end of the first lap and then suffering a driveshaft failure on lap 12. He managed to nurse his Scirocco home 11th.
With a clear track ahead of him, Dziurzynski pushed out an early lead of little more than a second, with the chasing pack engaged in a thrilling display of driving that signalled any of the top six could emerge the ultimate winner. With Walker senior falling back from the fray on lap six, James raised his challenge to press Taylor for third place, making it through in a gripping move through Riches and Sear on lap eight.
Fulbrook was next to loom large in Taylor's mirrors, the reigning champion's Bora running side by side with the Golf almost the entire course of lap nine. Fulbrook just had the advantage crossing the line, but as Taylor repassed, the cars touched. Taylor was able to continue, but Fulbrook's car was too badly damaged.
Out front, Dziurzynski was able to extend his lead to around four seconds as the 20-minute race moved into its second half. The contest behind him remained as gripping as ever, with Chaplin, delayed by lapping backmarkers, fending off huge pressure from James Walker. Taylor, meanwhile, minus a front airdam, had fallen off the leaders' pace and was passed by Richard Walker on lap 14.
At the chequered flag Dziurzynski was almost 3.5 seconds clear of Chaplin, who claimed second less than three tenths ahead of James Walker. Richard Walker held fourth, with Aaron Mason's Golf shading Taylor for fifth over the line by just three hundredths of a second. Anna Walewska equalled her best result of the season so far, finishing seventh in her Golf GTI, with Michael Kurton, Peter Lettinga and Kieran Griffin rounding off the top 10. Dziurzynski also had the distinction of setting a new lap record.
"We set the car up really well for this circuit," said Didge, "but did not really think about a win as Steve (Chaplin) and James (Walker) were also going very strongly. If it wasn't for the backmarkers holding Steve up, I'm sure he would have been right up with me."
Added Chaplin: "I thought we had it sussed but really Didge would have needed to have made a mistake for me to have had a chance to win."
Round eight was a race of attrition with only 12 classified finishers from the field of 19, with Richard Walker claiming his first win of the 2009 season.
Pole sitter Paul Taylor put his Golf R32's four-wheel drive to good use at the green light to keep the field at bay into the first corner, but he proved unable to resist the challenge of Mason, who snatched the lead briefly at the start of the second lap, only to run wide through Sear and see James and Richard Walker move ahead.
The two Golf pilots soon pulled out a healthy lead when Taylor was sidelined from the action at the end of lap two with a broken steering rack, the possible legacy of some eye-catching kerb riding. At the same time Anna Walewska was making the first of two visits to the pits, her Golf suffering handling problems after being hit from the rear at the start.
Through laps three and four, the Walkers held first and second with the chasing pack narrowly led by Mason from Chaplin, Dziurzynski and Liam Griffin. On lap five brake overheating problems began to dog Dziurzynski's progress, and he fell back to sixth behind Griffin's Scirocco, who in turn was soon challenging Mason for fourth.
Demonstrating that blood ties count for little when it comes to racing, Richard Walker was hot on his son's tail as the pair crossed the line on lap six. But the prospect of a family battle royal came to an abrupt end as Walker junior suffered a driveshaft failure exiting Sear on lap seven.
Richard inherited a healthy lead, with second-placed Chaplin busy fending off a sustained attack from Liam Griffin. The Beetle prevailed in a side-by-side charge into lap 10 and the two remained inseparable until Griffin spun in attempt to gain the advantage going into the Esses. Meanwhile Dziurzynski had recovered from his earlier problems and was able to overhaul Chaplin for second on lap 12, only for his brakes to surrender on the final lap, letting his rival through for second at the chequered flag, claiming fastest lap of the race en route.
Michael Kurton finished fourth in his Scirocco, ahead of Liam Griffin in fifth and Dutchman Peter Lettinga's Beetle in sixth. Tim Snaylam made up for the disappointment of failing to finish the first race of the day by bringing his Golf home in seventh, while Peter Wyhinny's Caddy van was cured of its earlier overheating problems to take eighth. Barrie Culley's venerable Vento VR6 held ninth after a race-long tussle with the Golf of Paul Wyhinny.
"We had a lucky start as Paul Taylor went wide through Sear and James got through with me tucked up right behind him," said Richard Walker. "It worked very well for us. It was the first time we had been in this position and it was a tragedy that James lost out because of a driveshaft failure. When that happened I just had to keep it going - I was not the quickest car out there but it helped me that the rest of the field were busy fighting among themselves."
Steve Chaplin: "The race was going swimmingly well until Liam Griffin started catching me. He was making good ground on me but he outbraked himself and spun at the end of the back straight going into the chicane. But of course that opened the way for Didge, who was soon all over me and I made a few mistakes. He managed to get past on the back straight but then on the last lap his brakes went and I was through."
19 July 2009
DONINGTON DOUBLE FOR DIDGE DZIURZYNSKI
Didge Dziurzynski dominated the Donington Park rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook to displace reigning champion Joe Fulbrook from the top of the points standings.
In both races, one dry and one in damp conditions, Dziurzynski was certainly the class of the field. He headed home Fulbrook and Cup returnee Tony Gilham in round nine, while in round 10, the impressive Gilham got the better of Fulbrook as the same faces appeared on the podium.
"It's been an absolutely brilliant weekend," said an elated Dziurzynski. "I had a bit of a bad start to the second race as I was really struggling with traction but then everything worked out well. Even when the rain came, it didn't unsettle the car at all. I can't fault the car as it's performed brilliantly all weekend. It's definitely going to be a great end to the championship."
Didge qualified comfortably on pole position for the first of the weekend's two races on the 1.95-mile National Circuit, the Mk IV Golf driver some four-tenths of a second faster than Fulbrook.
Fulbrook - his Warranty Direct Bora back to full health after its problems at Snetterton a fortnight ago - was second quickest ahead of Steve Chaplin's Beetle RSI and the Scirocco GT of Mike Kurton. Returning 2007 champion Gilham, who made an 11th hour decision to race at Donington, was fifth, just ahead of Derby driver Peter Felix.
As the cars lined up on the grid for round nine, Chaplin was a notable absentee due to a major clutch problem. Steve Walker was another to hit troubles before the race began, pitting after the formation lap in his Mk IV Golf.
Dziurzynski made a fair getaway, as did Fulbrook, but sole row two starter Kurton made the best launch of all and he tried to challenge for the lead around the outside heading to Redgate. Fulbrook emerged at the front though as Kurton was forced slightly wide on the exit, resulting in him slipping down the top six.
Into lap two Dziurzynski went to the outside of Fulbrook at Redgate but, as the pair ran side by side through Hollywood, the Golf retook the lead after a show of great commitment. Behind the leaders, Gilham looked good in third ahead of the impressive Aaron Mason, up from ninth on the grid.
Mason's tremendous early-race charge continued apace and by the end of lap three he was ahead of Gilham while Dziurzynski began to open up an increasing gap at the front. Lap four saw two retirements, one the overheating Caddy Sportline of Peter Wyhinny and the other Andrew Smith's troublesome Beetle TDI.
As the leader continued to press home his advantage, Fulbrook started to fall into the clutches of third-placed Mason who, at the start of lap five, was a mere four-tenths behind. The same was true for Gilham, who found himself under serious pressure from Felix.
At mid distance Fulbrook managed to edge away from his pursuers as Mason had to keep more of an eye on his mirrors with Gilham and Felix pressing on. James Walker then became the third visitor of the race to the pits with a problem linked to the mapping on the engine of his Golf GTI. He rejoined to finish a lap down in 13th position.
By lap eight, Dziurzynski's lead was up to four seconds as Fulbrook, Mason, Gilham and Felix continued to run almost bumper-to-bumper. At Redgate on lap nine, Felix made a bold attempt to pass Gilham with a late braking move but it wasn't quite enough to unsettle the former champion as he held on to fourth at the wheel of his Golf.
While Dziurzynski looked home and dry, even with enough time on the clock for another six laps or so, his brother Alex quietly went about his business and by lap nine he was in seventh place, having started 15th. Lapping quicker and quicker in his Corrado GTI, Alex managed to close down a gap of 3.4 seconds to the top six on lap 12 to just over two seconds by the start of lap 13 as he continued his impressive charge through the order.
With Didge Dziurzynski comfortably cruising to his third win of the campaign and Fulbrook more than happy to settle for second place, the battle for the final rostrum spot went the way of Gilham ahead of Mason, fourth still a great result for the latter from ninth on the grid.
On the last lap at Goddards, Felix made sure of fifth after making his way past Kurton, who ended up slipping to seventh at the chicane behind Alex Dziurzynski. Kieran Griffin's Scirocco was eighth, Anna Walewska's Golf ninth and returnee Giles Lock rounded out the top 10 in his Beetle.
Round 10 saw some drivers gambling on wet tyres due to ever-blackening skies. Although it rained midway through the race, it was never enough to make the bet a worthwhile one. The grid order for the second race was, as always, taken from the finishing order of the first outing albeit with the top six reversed, Alex Dziurzynski starting on pole ahead of Felix, Mason and Gilham.
Felix made a very good start from the outside of the front row, cutting across Dziurzynski to hold the lead at Redgate as the pole-man dropped to fifth place. Into lap two, the order was Felix from Mason, Fulbrook and Gilham with Alex Dziurzynski having fallen behind brother Didge into sixth.
At Coppice, Fulbrook passed Mason for second and then, into Goddards, Didge Dziurzynski managed to move past Gilham for fourth. Fulbrook then grabbed the lead from Felix on the third tour and that marked the start of the latter's fall out of contention.
By the end of lap four, Felix was down to sixth as Fulbrook just managed to keep Didge Dziurzynski and Gilham at bay at the front with less than a second covering the top three. However, on lap five Dziurzynski took the lead on the inside at Redgate after a good exit from Goddards.
No sooner had Dziurzynski taken the lead than he set about opening up an unassailable advantage at the front which increased to more than eight seconds by the start of lap 12. Fulbrook, meanwhile, had been under serious pressure from Gilham as the last two champions produced some great racing, Gilham getting the better of the battle to take second on the 11th tour.
Rain started to fall on lap 12 but nothing changed at the front with Didge Dziurzynski taking his second win of the weekend, and fourth of the campaign, ahead of Gilham and Fulbrook. Fourth place went to Mason with Alex Dziurzynski fifth and Lock sixth.
Of the drivers who chose to gamble on treaded tyres, Kieran Griffin was the best placed in eighth, almost half a minute behind the impressive Anna Walewska, who raced very well indeed to seventh spot to cap off a good weekend. Wyhinny's ever-popular Caddy van had a recurrence of its race one problems while Smith's Beetle also failed to finish once again.
Commenting on the weekend, Fulbrook said: "The car is absolutely 100 per cent again now and we've had two good races. I just kept things sensible. Luckily Tony (Gilham) isn't a championship contender and I knew he wouldn't do anything stupid. I wasn't going to catch Didge in the first race so I chose to look after the tyres and bring it home."
Championship returnee Gilham, who may yet contest more events this year if they don't clash with his other racing commitments in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, commented: "I always like to have a go in the Volkswagen Racing Cup if I can and it just so happened it worked out there was a car available I could have a run in this weekend. The championship is good, I really enjoy it and it's always a good laugh.
"I went out there with the intention to keep it clean and have two good races, which we did. It's not my championship to get involved in this year so I kept things sensible. The first time I sat in the car was for qualifying so to be on the podium in both races first time back is a great result."
16 August 2009
FULBROOK & GRIFFIN RACE TO VICTORY AT SILVERSTONE
Volkswagen Racing Cup championship title fortunes swung full circle as Bora driver Joe Fulbrook regained the initiative thanks to a win and a second-place finish at Silverstone while Donington double victor Didge Dziurzynski endured a no-score weekend through mechanical problems. Scirocco pilot Liam Griffin was the Joker-playing victor of the other Silverstone race.
With only next month's Brands Hatch rounds remaining, Fulbrook has a healthy 72-point championship lead over his closest challenger, Beetle racer Steve Chaplin, who has yet to play his Joker. Dziurzynski now has but a tiny mathematical chance of depriving Fulbrook of his second successive championship win in the Hankook-backed series.
It was a broken driveshaft which cost Didge his championship lead on the opening lap of Saturday's 11th round. After qualifying second on the grid, behind pole-sitter Griffin and just ahead of the Warranty Direct Bora of Fulbrook, Didge had high hopes of another podium finish for the West End Precision Golf GTI. Alas his race lasted only a few corners…
It was Chaplin who made the best start, his 'Herbie' Beetle rocketing to the front at Copse before Addison Lee Scirocco driver Griffin reasserted his authority by snatching back the lead around the outside at Abbey. Liam was quick to get the hammer down and build a useful lead.
Richard Walker was another fast-starter, the Nottinghamshire veteran picking off several cars, including that of Fulbrook, to move into third on the opening lap. Next time around Walker demoted Chaplin from second, but there was little he could do about Griffin's ever-increasing lead.
Walker soon started to suffer handling problems through the twistier sections of the track, and that allowed first Chaplin to repass him briefly and then Fulbrook to do the same, Joe having taken third from Chaplin on the sixth of the 13 laps. Fulbrook made his decisive move past Walker for second on the eighth lap and set about trying to reel in Griffin; by the fall of the chequered flag he had reduced the Sirocco man's advantage to two-and-a-half seconds.
"Fair play to Liam," said Fulbrook. "He got a good run off and there was no chance of catching him really, so I just concentrated on holding on to second."
Said Griffin of his second win of the year: "I'd like to thank SlideSports for putting together a great car. Once I had got in front the others were all dicing each other and that gave me the chance to get away. I just tried to concentrate on driving the circuit rather than worrying what was happening in my mirrors."
Chaplin secured third ahead of Walker on lap eight, and called his return to the podium "a great comeback" after the disappointments he suffered last month at Donington Park.
After his spirited run, Walker had to make do with fourth at the flag, albeit well ahead of Aaron Mason's Golf GTI.
Martyn Culley made an excellent return to the championship at the wheel of his Beetle RSI, which was in strong form after nearly a whole season in rebuild. Culley started seventh and finished sixth, ahead of Michael Kurton's Scirocco and the Golfs of Peter Felix, Kieran Griffin and Anna Walewska.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Director Simon Elliott enjoyed a superbly competitive motorsporting debut, finishing 11th, ahead of four much more experienced drivers: Barrie Culley, Michael Neuhoff, Tony Harberman and Doug Ross. Neuhoff was reunited with the Golf TDI which he raced to victory in 2002; his plans to race a Lupo GTI were thwarted by engine problems pre-event.
There were further mechanical problems on Sunday for poor Dziurzynski: his race lasted only a lap before he was forced to the pits with gearbox oil gushing from his Golf… Richard Walker it was who led the way initially after a good start from third on the grid to overhaul the pole-sitting Beetle of Martyn Culley and Aaron Mason's Golf. Just as on Saturday, however, Walker found himself unable to live with the pace of RP Motorsport team-mates Chaplin and Fulbrook; Chaplin eased past for the lead on lap three and Fulbrook bumped him back to third next time around.
Chaplin tried everything he could to pull clear of the charging Fulbrook but could not shake off his pursuer. Joe doggedly trailed the Beetle, hoping for a mistake. None came from the driver, but tell-tale smoke from 'Herbie' suggested all was not well with the machine.
The smoke proved to be leaking power steering fluid, and as the fluid escaped so Chaplin had to struggle with heavier and heavier steering. The inevitable loss of the lead to Fulbrook came on the penultimate lap, and then Walker swept back past for second on the final tour.
"So near and yet so far," said Chaplin. "The power steering fluid was leaking on to the exhaust, which caused all the smoke. I had lost all my power steering and was having to heave it into the corners."
"We've had our fair share of bad luck this year so it's nice to get some good fortune," said Fulbrook after his second race win of the season. The car was awesome and it was a no holds-barred fight with Steve until he had his problem."
Martyn Culley recovered from a rather tardy start which saw him slip to fifth on the opening lap, passing Mason on lap two and holding on in fourth, well in touch with the leading trio, all the way to the end. Mason underlined his season-long form as most promising rookie by taking fifth, ahead of Kurton, Felix and Saturday winner Liam Griffin, whose Scirocco got barged down the order early on and struggled to recover due to handling problems.
Walewska and Kieran Griffin rounded out the top 10, with Elliott once again impressing with a strong 11th-place finish.
20 September 2009
BACK-TO-BACK TITLES FOR JOE FULBROOK
Joe Fulbrook is - for the second successive year - the Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion. The Berkshire Bora driver clinched the Hankook-backed championship by the skin of his teeth, and thanks to a Herculean effort from the RP Motorsport team, at Brands Hatch yesterday.
A fifth-place finish in the first of the day's races left 38-year-old Joe needing a top-12 result in race two to secure the title, but there was drama in the paddock between events when it was discovered his car's 1.8-litre turbocharged engine was badly damaged. His mechanics replaced the unit with minutes to spare and, though well down on power, Fulbrook managed to bring his Warranty Direct Bora home ninth.
There were race wins at Brands for Liam Griffin's Scirocco and for recovering leukaemia sufferer Darren Blumson - his first in the championship - as well as a remarkable performance from Richard Styrin, who drove his RacingLine Golf GTI to podium finishes in his first-ever car races.
Styrin, whose last regular competition experience was 20 years ago in a kart, doggedly tailed Blumson for five laps before regaining second spot, but by the time he had made the place back Griffin was long gone. Liam crossed the line 3.3s clear of Styrin to take his third race win of the season. "I knew the car would be good because we had the edge in qualifying," said Griffin, "but I needed to make a good, clean start, which I did, and then it was a case of just getting my head down."
Styrin was delighted with his championship debut: "It was all a bit new for me. The key was to make it around the first bend… It was great fun and what a brilliant championship to get started in. The plan for 2010 is to do the whole series."
Fulbrook's chief title rival, Steve Chaplin, was playing his points-doubling Joker card but lost several places on the opening lap, slipping to ninth, five places behind Fulbrook. But the 'Herbie' Beetle driver steadily made up ground and slotted into fifth, on Joe's tail, on lap six and then passed him, and Blumson for third, on successive laps. "I got a bit mugged at the start," said Steve, "and then it was a question of doing everything possible to get back up there." Chaplin lowered the circuit lap record in his pursuit of the final podium slot.
Fulbrook, his engine beginning to go off song in the closing laps - a burnt piston was later diagnosed - nonetheless manage to follow Golf driver Richard Walker in passing Blumson towards the end, Walker claiming fourth, Fulbrook fifth and Blumson sixth.
Anna Walewska, Martyn Culley, Daniel Walker and Tim Snaylam completed the top 10, with Ronnie O'Sullivan, fresh from his Shanghai Masters snooker victory, making further progress in his new sporting career by driving the Addison Lee Jetta to 13th spot.
Blumson's first-race sixth earned him the pole for race two, and the 44-year-old from Surrey did not waste the opportunity, his Beetle - which bears allegiance to the Royal Marsden Hospital which helped save his life last year - slotting into a narrow lead ahead of Richard Walker's Golf. Wily old Walker stuck to Blumson's tail and tried to pass on several occasions, but Darren was not to be denied his first Volkswagen Racing Cup win.
Blumson paid tribute on the podium to the Royal Marsden doctors and nurses, without whom, he said, he would not be on the grid. "It was a great race," he added. "Richard was all over me for the whole race and it was really hard to keep him behind." Blumson's winning margin was just 0.725s.
Chaplin made a good start - too good, as it turned out, because race officials deemed he had anticipated the lights and he was handed a 10-second penalty. So although Steve ran third on the road all the way to the chequered flag, he was classified fifth. Styrin inherited the final podium slot, nabbing it from Aaron Mason's grasp on the final lap after smashing Chaplin's day-old lap record.
Daniel Walker, Richard's son and new to saloon racing this season, completed the top six, ahead of Walewska and Kieran Griffin. Kieran's brother, race one victor Liam, suffered mechanical trouble and limped home 14th and final finisher.
Among the many non-finishers was O'Sullivan, who potted the Jetta into the Clearways gravel trap two laps from the end while battling for 10th.
Fulbrook, meanwhile, was struggling with a heavily ballasted Bora, using an unfamiliar and unproven engine which lost much of its power half-way through the race. He started second on the grid and his progress from there was backwards, but he profited from the demise of several faster cars and bagged ninth at the flag, just ahead of Tim Snaylam's Golf R32.
His safe finish was a great relief: "Two years ago I lost the championship at the final round, so I was worried history might repeat itself. It didn't… thanks to RP Motorsport and the boys we made it. Thanks also to Steve Chaplin, who's been a great competitor and team-mate all year."