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26 APRIL 2011


Joe Fulbrook and James Walker each made an excellent start to the 2011 Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants at Oulton Park by taking a win and a second place apiece – tying the pair on points at the top of the championship standings.

Fulbrook, the 2008 and 2009 Racing Cup Champion, dominated qualifying with a pole position time almost half a second clear of closest rival Walker in his Golf Mk V GTI.

Round one was very much a lights-to-flag victory for Maidenhead driver Joe, albeit under sustained pressure from the chasing pack of Walker, reigning champion Steve Chaplin in his Beetle RSI and the Golf of Peter Felix.

In round two Walker came through strongly to grab the lead from his dad, Richard, on the final lap to brilliantly cap a fantastic opening weekend of the championship.

Ever-consistent Chaplin secured a brace of third places to get his title defence off to a good start. For expected front-runner Aaron Mason, though, problems with his rear brake-bias led to a pitlane start for round one and a finish of just 13th – wholly unrepresentative of the Golf driver’s genuine pace.

Another to suffer a major setback was round two pole-sitter Kieran Griffin. Into the pits before the green flag lap even began for the second outing, a complete loss of drive meant he wasn’t able to even contest a single lap.

Round 1
The first race of the new season delivered some superbly close action at the front but nobody had an answer for Fulbrook. That said, his win was by no means easy, with just half a second the margin to James Walker at the chequered flag.

Fulbrook held the inside line for Old Hall to repel the fast-starting Walker while behind the front-row duo Chaplin maintained third ahead of Felix, championship returnee Steve Wood and Kieran Griffin.

Wood managed to get ahead of Felix at the hairpin but at Old Hall on lap two the Derby racer hit back. Running wide on the exit, he looked set to lose out to Wood again but into Cascades Felix had the line covered.

Griffin capitalised on the battle ahead to get his own good run to Island Bend and when the cars re-emerged Wood had been barrelled back to seventh with Griffin up to fifth and Richard Walker sixth – Walker Snr having scythed his way through from 13th on the grid.

He then passed Griffin for fifth at Old Hall on lap three to make the possibility of a sensational podium finish very realistic indeed. Back at the front, Fulbrook continued to stay ahead of the younger Walker, with Chaplin in third only a second adrift of the lead.

The gap between the top five widened and then closed up again on multiple occasions, but each time the order remained static. Then, on lap 10, Richard Walker looked to have made a breakthrough at the chicane but Felix held firm. He tried his hand again at the chicane on the 11th and final lap, but the lateness of his braking resulted only in a lock-up and an excursion down the slip road. Felix held on untroubled in fourth, finishing six-tenths shy of the podium.

“To be fair, I think James was quicker into Cascades than me which made things quite tricky,” commented race-winner Fulbrook. “We all had the pace up there at the front, it certainly wasn’t easy but it was quite enjoyable.”

Walker Jnr added: “I couldn’t really attack Joe like I wanted to but it’s great to be on the podium in the first race.”

Griffin finished the race sixth, just ahead of Wood, with Mike Kurton steering his Scirocco to eighth, the SEAT Cupra R of Jamie Corstophine taking ninth and Tim Snaylam’s Golf rounding out the top 10.

There were strong showings for championship newcomers Thomas Wilson, who placed 12th in his Golf; Richard Morgan, another Golf man, in 16th; Mark Howard – who had been due to debut the new Mk VI Golf GTI, but who raced a Jetta instead, to 19th; and Beetle driver Cameron Thompson, 20th.

Round 2
With Griffin unable to take up his position at the front of the grid, Richard Walker effectively started from pole and he made it count to head Felix, Chaplin, and Fulbrook to Old Hall. The round one winner wasted no time in clearing Chaplin to take third out of the first turn before ‘Herbie’ then slipped back another spot behind James Walker. With positions unchanged at the mid-point of the lap, Felix then grabbed a surprise lead from Richard Walker at Lodge.

As good as the move was, his place at the front lasted only yards as Walker blasted back past into Old Hall and Fulbrook then piled on the pressure to Felix too in his attempts to go with the Walker. Keeping Felix very busy indeed, the Bora of Fulbrook certainly looked quick, but he wasn’t able to find a way by.

With the lead group bunching up as the race entered lap four, Chaplin in fifth wasn’t able to get on terms but in the end his more measured approach paid dividends.

At the end of lap five, Walker Jnr managed to usurp Fulbrook for third and around the same time his race-leading dad began to explore more and more of the kerbs and grass as he persisted in running wide at Old Hall and also the exit of Cascades.

Second placed Felix was also driving the kerbs hard and in the end this proved costly, as he had to pit on lap nine with a damaged wheel and suspension.

Although running wide more than he would have liked, Walker Snr never really offered an opportunity to his pursuers – until the last lap at the hairpin, where a moment on the grass enabled son James, Fulbrook and champion Chaplin to shoot past.

Spoiling the prospect of a real family affair with a Walker lock-out for first and second, the moment did supply a true grandstand finish to the race with the top two covered by less than 0.2s at the flag.

Chaplin was six seconds further back in third, just ahead of the recovering Richard Walker, with Wood taking an impressive fifth on his first weekend back and Mason climbing through the order brilliantly into sixth from 13th place.

Kurton improved on his race one effort with seventh and Zoe Wenham, the category’s sole female competitor – and the youngest at just 16, took a fantastic eighth place in her Golf Mk V.

Snaylam and Martyn Walsh completed the top 10, with Morgan the leading rookie runner in 13th.

“I think my dad just used his tyres too much,” said race winner James Walker on the podium. “He and Peter were really hitting those kerbs. I’m really happy with such a good result, it’s a great start to the year.”

In addition to title backer FUCHS Lubricants, the Volkswagen Racing Cup is supported by Hankook Tyres, Paragon, Milltek Sport, Superchips, Ceva Logistics and ECM Vehicle Delivery.



15 MAY 2011


Reigning champion Steve Chaplin and rapid front-runner Aaron Mason made it four different winners from the first four rounds of the 2011 Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants at an action-packed Snetterton in Norfolk.

Marking the championship’s first visit to the new ‘300’ circuit configuration, the racing was as unpredictable as ever, although Chaplin, Mason and Steve Wood filled the podium for each encounter.

Wood, who has returned to the championship full-time this year in his Mk V Golf GTI, was the star of qualifying with a dominant performance and he backed this up with a very close second to Chaplin in round three, and third in round four.

Most importantly though, Wood opted to play his points-doubling ‘Joker’ ahead of Saturday afternoon’s race and so he has rocketed into the championship lead on 186 points, ahead of Mason, who played his Joker for round four.

Following the opening two rounds at Oulton Park last month, former double champion Joe Fulbrook was tied at the top of the standings with James Walker but the Bora driver didn’t have the best of weekends in East Anglia.

After a slide and subsequent spin at the Esses on the opening lap of round three, which resulted in contact with Mason, Fulbrook failed to score with a penultimate lap retirement. However, a superb drive through from 18th on the grid on Sunday was rewarded with an excellent sixth place.

The weekend marked the first appearance of the fantastic new Caddy Van Racer in the hands of Simon Elliott, who achieved 11th and 14th place finishes. Meanwhile, front-runner Peter Felix left the track even before qualifying got underway on Saturday due to problems which his Golf developed in testing.

Round 3
Chaplin managed to nose ahead of pole-sitter Wood at the beginning of the opening encounter while fourth-placed starter Mason surged into the top three as they headed to Riches, before getting ahead of Wood soon after.

Behind the leaders, contact in the mid-pack involving the Scirocco of Kieran Griffin and the Golfs of Richard Morgan and Martyn Walsh resulted in all three retiring on the spot – it also ended Morgan’s involvement in the remainder of the weekend.

Through the infield Chaplin held the lead in his ‘Herbie’ Beetle RSI, just fending off the rapid Mason out of Agostini shortly before the latter’s storming start to the race really came unstuck through no fault of his own.

As he made his way through the second part of the Esses, Mason’s Golf was collected by the Bora of Joe Fulbrook, which bounced across the grass sideways after an unfortunate moment heading into the turn. Mason rejoined 10th while Fulbrook continued until his car expired on lap nine.

Chaplin and Wood were well clear of the chasing pack due to Mason’s removal from the equation but the fight for third didn’t take a back seat – father and son Richard and James Walker in a great scrap with the impressive Tim Snaylam.

Mason continued his charge back up the order and after going fifth on lap five at the expense of James he quickly scythed his way past Richard and Snaylam as they duelled at Riches on lap six. Mason then ousted Walker Snr from third at Riches on lap seven to complete his tremendous recovery to the podium – a slim hope at best midway through lap one.

Second placed Wood began to encounter problems with his ECU, causing him to lose time, so to post the fastest lap and hustle Chaplin all the way was a measure of his performance, just 0.3 seconds splitting the pair in the end.

Behind the top three, Richard Walker remained ahead of son James by a couple of seconds while Peter Lettinga rounded off a superb race in sixth ahead of Zoe Wenham and Thomas Wilson. Snaylam had to settle for ninth after two spins and the Caddy was just outside the top 10 on its 2011 debut in 11th place.

“Fortunately for me Steve had a problem with his ECU cutting out,” said Chaplin. “He’s a formidable competitor and he’ll have a go if he has half a chance so I was mindful of that but also mindful of driving my own race.”

Wood added: “Luckily we had a bit of a gap to the cars behind. The ECU cut out a few times but with a quick flick of the engine off and on I was able to catch back up to Steve within a lap or so. I didn’t want to try anything too aggressive against my team-mate though.”

“The knock I had on the front of the car put the tracking out but that did give me amazing traction for the right-handers”, explained third placed Mason, “so I was able to pick people off quite easily on the brakes.”

Round 4
With the top-six finishers reversed on the grid for the second race, Dutchman Lettinga lined up on pole position and he made a terrific getaway to lead before being bundled back to fourth a couple of corners later.

Mason shot away from the second row and displaced both Walkers at Riches before taking the lead into the infield as Lettinga dropped positions. Soon after, the pole man was also passed by Chaplin and Wood, demoting him to sixth.

Team-mates Chaplin and Wood continued their good progress by getting ahead of James Walker, but behind the lead bunch there was a substantial gap to the remainder of the field following a multi-car tangle early in the race.

Through the mayhem came Fulbrook, a tremendous start already gaining him 10 places, and he closed down a substantial time deficit over the course of the race to be within just 0.1 seconds of fifth at the flag.

By lap three, Chaplin was really on the move and starting to close rapidly on Mason, with Wood third ahead of the Walkers, Richard still leading James, and Lettinga in sixth. Chaplin then took the lead before turning into Riches at the beginning of lap four but Mason didn’t let him pull away.

On the fifth tour, though, the leader ran wide exiting Williams which allowed not only Mason through to retake first place but also promoted Wood to second. On lap six, it was Wood’s turn to go a little wide – this time at the hairpin – and so Chaplin moved back to second some 2.5 seconds adrift of Mason.

The Beetle driver produced a series of ultra-quick laps to get right back on Mason’s case but although rain started to fall during the last lap or two, the Golf runner held on strongly to win and – with the aid of his ‘Joker’ – move up to second in the championship behind Wood.

“It did become quite greasy towards the end, it was a case of just hanging on and taking things that bit easier,” reported Mason. “I was worried about my fifth gear for the last two laps – it was going in but it was clunking. Thankfully it held on. It’s a great way to finish the weekend, I’m really happy.”

Chaplin was just 0.138 seconds shy of Mason at the flag with Wood third and leading home Richard and James Walker. The impressive Fulbrook was sixth from Lettinga, Griffin, Walsh and Mark Howard, with Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon 11th and Elliott’s Caddy 14th.

“I hadn’t really noticed the rain to be fair although it did back Aaron up a bit and things were a bit skatey,” said Chaplin. “I pushed to try to make a move on him but he drove a cracking race, he deserved the win.



19 JUNE 2011


Rounds five and six of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants delivered superb action on the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, with Kieran Griffin and new championship leader Aaron Mason claiming hard-fought wins.

Scirocco driver Griffin capitalised on an excellent start to hold Steve Chaplin’s Beetle at bay and take his first win in three seasons of Cup competition, with Golf GTI man Mason making a superb late-race charge to claim third step on the podium in the day’s first race.

A wet-but-drying track for the second event made tyre choice and performance crucial. Mason secured an emphatic win, leading for 10 of the 11 laps and resisting James Walker’s valiant efforts to snatch victory. Joe Fulbrook, opting for slick tyres front and rear, prospered as the track dried, blasting through to third and setting a fastest lap en route almost two seconds quicker than any of his rivals.

Heading from the Kent track to the season’s half-way point at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, Mason carries an 12-point championship advantage ahead of Steve Wood, with Chaplin – notably yet to play his points-doubling “joker” – just 10 points further adrift in third.

Round 5
The foundation for Kieran Griffin’s maiden Volkswagen Racing Cup victory was laid the moment the lights went out to start round five: a superb get-away from fourth on the grid saw the Addison Lee-backed SlideSports Scirocco R heading the field by the exit of the first bend. Meanwhile pole sitter Chaplin, who went into the race as championship leader, saw his advantage lost, not only to Griffin but also to the Golf GTI of James Walker, which claimed second place from the Complete Utilities Beetle RSI through Stirlings on the first lap.

Behind the leading trio, teenage Golf pilot Zoe Wenham was under intense pressure from Richard Walker for fourth, with Peter Wyhinny powering his (non-points-scoring) Seat Cupra R up four places from his number 10 grid spot. While Wyhinny prospered, Mason found himself trailing in ninth, having qualified his AWM Motor Sport GTI in second. This, however, was the start of an incredible fight back from the Doncaster driver, who set a new lap record on his way to a well-deserved podium finish.

While the leading trio of Griffin, James Walker and Chaplin established a cushion over the chasing field, Mason pulled himself up to fourth by the end of lap four, despatching Richard Walker out of Clearways. Wenham, meanwhile, had slipped out of contention, taking a pit stop on lap two.

Chaplin was far from a beaten man, passing James Walker out of Surtees on lap five and powering to within a second of Griffin. Lining up to take the lead as the two approached the Druids hairpin on lap 11, his manoeuvre was thwarted by a caution flag for the stranded Golf of Mark Howard. At the chequered flag Griffin was a second and a half clear of Chaplin, with Mason close on the Beetle man’s tail in third. James Walker fended off a late charge from Fulbrook’s Bora in fourth, with Richard Walker sixth, Steve Wood seventh and Wyhinny having the best of a near-race-long duel with Thomas Wilson’s Golf GTI to take eighth. Dutch racer Peter Lettinga rounded on the top 10.

Sadly the debut for the new Mk VI Golf GTI was short, Nick Beaumont retiring from the race after a melee at the exit of Paddock Hill Bend on lap one that also sidelined the Mk V GTI of Tim Snaylam.

“It was a great race, and a great feeling to have secured my first win in the championship,” said a delighted Griffin. “The start was key, after that it was a matter of keeping it steady and balanced. I’m sure there is still a lot more to come from the car.”

Round 6
The reverse top-six grid put Richard Walker on pole alongside a charged-up Mason. Walker held on – just – in a lurid first lap that revealed just how little grip the track had to offer, ahead of Mason and a fast-starting Wood, who made up four places to hold third from James Walker and Round 5 winner Griffin. One lap later, Mason had the lead with Richard Walker retiring from the fray, leaving Wood and James Walker second and third. Behind these frontrunners there was a furious battle, led initially by Wenham. The Tewkesbury driver brought her SlideSports Golf up from 15th on the grid to fourth by the end of lap three, only to fall back as a dry line developed, leaving Griffin, Wyhinny, Fulbrook and Chaplin fighting bumper-to-bumper to head the chasing pack.

Chaplin made a decisive move on Wyhinny on lap seven to run fourth, while Griffin’s race ended in the gravel at Druids one lap later. It was Fulbrook, though, who held the trump card, his slick tyres coming into their own the longer the race ran. Quicker than the field by at least two seconds a lap, he wrested third place from Chaplin two tours from the flag. At the front, James Walker brought his car within six tenths of a second of Mason, but the Doncaster driver was not to be denied, finishing almost a second to the good. Wyhinny held on to fifth from Wood, Lettinga, Wenham and Howard, with Simon Elliott bringing home the New Caddy Racer in an excellent 10th spot.

“My tyres were suffering towards the end and really didn’t think I could hold on, but obviously James was in a worse situation than I was. One lap longer, it might have been different,” said Mason. A philosophical Walker added: “I knew I couldn’t have pushed any harder, I would have ended up going off. Much better to come home second in the circumstances than not to finish at all.”



3 JULY 2011


With two wins under his belt from the Dutch rounds of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants, it’s no surprise to learn that Steve Chaplin loves the circuit of Zandvoort. The Beetle-driving reigning champion not only won both races but also claimed the fastest lap in each, and a new lap record. Shrewd playing of his points-doubling ‘Joker’ card in the first race has also brought him a handsome championship lead.

Seventeen-year-old Zoe Wenham delighted everybody, including herself, with a fantastic second place in race two. “What a great race. I can’t wait to do the same in England,” the Golf GTI racer said after her superb performance.

Not everybody was as happy, however. Aaron Mason went to Zandvoort as championship leader, but lost his points advantage after placing 16th and seventh in respective races. Steve Wood, who had been second in the championship, fared even worse, finishing neither race.

Round 7
Brands Hatch race victor Kieran Griffin qualified his Addison Lee Scirocco on pole position on Friday and seemed to have made a great start as he led the pack into turn one. A jump start, race control concluded, so a drive-through penalty was ordered. But Kieran was unable to take his penalty as his race came to a premature end on lap two when James Walker, trying to pass Griffin, forced an error from him and Griffin crashed into the tyre wall, ending his race and prompting a brief safety car period.

Aaron Mason’s Golf GTI took over in the lead, pursued by Chaplin, who had had a narrow escape during Griffin’s incident, having to take to the grass to avoid contact. Walker’s Golf followed in third position.

The safety car diminished the gap between Mason and Chaplin but at the restart Aaron’s reactions were as sharp as a knife: coming out of the last turn he stepped on the gas to hold his lead across the start/finish line, already 2.7 seconds ahead of Chaplin.

The Beetle driver was however eager to improve on the second and third places he scored last year at Zandvoort. He closed the gap within two laps, and then went head to head with Mason into turn one, Tarzan corner. Mason left his braking too late but managed to avoid a collision with Chaplin; instead he went sideways into the gravel and lost many places, compounded by a visit to the pits for mechanical attention.

The sixth-lap sort out put Chaplin on course for his second win of the season, which he claimed by a 5.8-second margin from 2008/’09 champion Joe Fulbrook in his Bora. Joe started sixth and wasted little time in battling towards the front, lifting third from Walker on lap five before Mason’s demise promoted him to second.

On his home track, Golf GTI driver Peter Lettinga put in the performance of his season to claim his first championship podium. The Dutchman steadily climbed the order from his seventh-placed grid slot and snatched third from Walker’s grasp on the final lap.

Zoe Wenham continued her impressive championship progress with fifth in her Golf, behind Walker and just ahead of Tim Snaylam’s GTI. Championship returnee Mike Kurton brought the sole surviving Scirocco home seventh, ahead of Thomas Wilson, Martyn Walsh and Nick Beaumont, whose 10th place was the best finish yet for the new Mk VI Golf GTI.

Caddy racer Simon Elliott pleased the crowds immensely on his way to 12th spot, just behind the Golf GTI of Simon Andrews.

Round 8
Snaylam, sixth in race one, started from pole position in the reverse-grid race, and led the first five laps ahead of Wenham, who despite being the youngest in the field has a year’s championship experience under her belt.

Fulbrook seemed to be the fastest in the opening laps, the Berkshire racer storming up to third from fifth on the grid. Chaplin meanwhile was making steadier progress towards the sharp end, passing Lettinga for fifth and Walker for fourth by lap four, surviving a lurid trip across the grass en route.

Wenham battled to take the lead from Snaylam several times and achieved the feat finally on lap six, only to lose top spot a couple of corners later to Chaplin, who had followed her through past Snaylam’s Golf. Zoe kept the Beetle racer honest to the chequered flag, and was afforded a bit of breathing space by a furious battle behind her for third between Snaylam and Fulbrook.

Wenham crossed the line 1.5s behind Chaplin to claim her first podium finish in the Volkswagen Racing Cup, with Snaylam hanging on to third for his first podium also. Tim cannily played his Joker card pre-race, hauling himself into the championship top seven as a result.

Chaplin had a great weekend, knowing that his opponents Mason and Wood lost a lot of points. “It was hard to pass everybody, but I’m very pleased with my two wins today.”

Wenham added: “I should have played my joker today,” she smiled. “But then again, I can save it for when I take my first win.”

Snaylam concludes: “Starting from pole and coming third may seem a loss but I’m content, knowing how fast Steve is. And of course I’m very glad for Zoe: she drove a great race.”

Fulbrook followed Snaylam home for fourth, 2.8s clear of Walker’s Golf and Lettinga, with Aaron Mason putting in a superb effort from near the back of grid to race to seventh, ahead of Griffin, Wilson and Kurton. Mark Howard’s Golf placed 11th, just ahead of Beaumont and Caddy man Elliott.

There’s a long summer break for the championship now – ample time for Chaplin to enjoy his 70-point championship lead and for his rivals to plot how they can whittle it away





Tricky conditions at Rockingham were a challenge for the competitors of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants, but through the rain and spray of race one came James Walker and his father Richard to score a family 1-2 in their Golf GTIs. The weather improved for the event finale, and that suited reigning champion and current championship leader Steve Chaplin as he swept to his fourth race win of the year.

Round 9
Steve Chaplin, starting from pole position for only the second time this season in his Complete Utilities Beetle RSI, made a good start in difficult conditions. But the Maisemore based driver soon came under pressure from his front row opposition Aaron Mason and his Golf GTI, Mason quick to take the edge as the pair went into Deene for the first time.

After making his successful move on Chaplin, Mason proved how tricky conditions were by sliding wide and very nearly off; by the end of the first lap the Yorkshireman was back to fifth and with a mountain to climb to get back into contention.

In among the first-lap action the hard-charging James Walker, who started from sixth in his KPM racing Golf, proved a force to be reckoned with, making a string of successful moves to slot into the lead and pull clear of second-placed Chaplin to the tune of 2.8s by the end of the tour.

It was by no means plain sailing for championship leader Chaplin, who slipped to fourth on the second lap as Joe Fulbrook’s Bora and Richard Walker’s Golf splashed past.

With son James in control of the race to the tune of 6.4s by the third lap, Richard Walker was soon out to make it a family affair. The former truck racing champion emerged as the leader of the chasing pack, and tried hard to keep his son within reach.

There was no shortage of action further back as round five race winner Kieran Griffin showed his determination in the Scirocco R to make his way through from last to seventh by the end. Griffin’s car had failed post-qualifying scrutineering, along with that of Tim Snaylam, and both were sent to the back of the grid.

Walker senior’s hopes of reeling in his son came to nothing and, after an impressive drive, it was James who crossed the line ahead, by 6.5s. Aaron Mason recovered from his problems in the opening laps to gain third place and his fifth podium placing of the season.

Chaplin held on to bring home his ‘Herbie’ Beetle fourth. Fulbrook and Nick Beaumont, in the new Mk VI Golf GTI, rounded out the top six.

Other notable performances came from Paul Wyhinny, who survived a first-lap tangle with the New Caddy Racer of Simon Elliott to finish eighth, behind Griffin, and Philip Morris, who brought his Golf GTI home ninth, just ahead of Steve Wood’s Golf.

“After assessing the amount of grip that there was on the track during the green flag laps, I was quite surprised how slow people were in the early stages of the race,” said James Walker, for whom this was a second win of the season. “I knew that it was important for me to build a gap after I had taken the lead as I was able to find the grip that others weren’t able to and that’s exactly what I did. I just had to ensure that I kept a reasonable gap.”

“I had a very poor start which put me into the pack,” said Richard Walker, who claimed his first podium of the season. “The set up of the car felt good so I was able to gain a few places. James made a good start and had already built up a lead on me, which was a shame, as it would have been good to be able to hassle each other a bit – who knows what could have happened.”

“I got a really good start from second,” added Mason. “I pulled a few car lengths into turn one but going into turn two I didn’t quite realise how slippy the track was and I put myself in the gravel trap for a short period. I was determined to get back on the track and I’m pleased to have picked up a good amount of points by finishing in third.”

Round 10
Chaplin continued his march towards further championship glory with victory in round 10, the reigning champion putting aside the disappointment of missing out on a podium position in the earlier race.

Fulbrook made a good start in the Warranty Direct Racing-prepared Bora on a by-now dry Rockingham circuit to lead pole man Beaumont off the line as the pack approached Deene for the first time. Beaumont’s second soon came under pressure from a charging Chaplin, who gained the position towards the end of the opening lap.

Chaplin next set his sights on 2008 and ’09 champion Fulbrook, placing more and more pressure on Joe during the second lap before finding a way past the Bora on lap three.

The tussle for third was close as Golf men Mason and Beaumont went head to head, Mason winning the battle with a pass down the School Straight. Round nine winner James Walker followed Mason’s example and demoted Beaumont further on lap three. The pair continued their battle as Beaumont attempted to regain the position he had lost, but to no avail.

As the race drew to a close, James began to drop back into the clutches of Beaumont once again, and this time Nick had the better run out of Brook and on to the pit straight. Taking an inside line into turn one, Beaumont finished the move on the approach to the hairpin and was able to fend off Walker for the duration.

Chaplin duly took the spoils by a 2.3s margin, with Fulbrook chasing the Beetle all the way to the line, followed by Mason, who claimed his second podium of the weekend by bringing his Golf GTI home third.

Other notable performances in the race came from 17-year-old Zoe Wenham who, after starting 12th, came through to finish an impressive seventh in her SlideSports Golf GTI. The result boosts Zoe to sixth in the championship standings.

Philip Morris enjoyed another strong showing in the KPM Racing Golf GTI, ended his race ninth, just behind the Golf of Richard Morgan. Simon Andrews completed the top 10, just ahead of Elliott’s Caddy.

“It was a very good race from the start,” explained Chaplin. “I got a very clean start but Joe also made a blinding start as well so it was a question of following Joe to see where he was going to go. It all proved a bit green out there and a bit slippery but I knew that I had to keep putting the pressure on Joe; in the end there was a bit of a gap and I took the advantage. From then on it was just a question of keeping an eye on Joe and ensuring that I had a gap on him that I was able to maintain.”

“I got a good start,” said Fulbrook. “We tried a completely different set-up on the car because we hadn’t had the best of weekends and managed to find some grip; it felt really good. Steve’s on fire at the moment but we still have to do some work on the car I think and hopefully we will be able to get back on his pace come Donington.”

“It was a bit of a troubled race for me,” explained Mason. “I got a good start but as we started picking the pace up the driveshaft started rumbling, so I had to start nursing the car. After that issue the clutch started to play up, so I was just begging for the race to end. It’s great to have gained two podium finishes this weekend; the team have put a really good car together.”





The Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants is set to go down to the wire at Silverstone after the unpredictable British weather played an integral role in rounds 11 and 12 of the championship on the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit. There was action aplenty throughout the field – at 24 cars the largest of the season – as the drivers contended with treacherous track conditions.

The 2008 and ’09 champion, Joe Fulbrook, got the best of things in Saturday’s dry qualifying session at the wheel of his Warranty Direct Racing Bora Turbo, but it was Golf men Aaron Mason and James Walker who claimed the victory laurels, denying championship leader Steve Chaplin the opportunity to settle the title fight two weeks early.

Chaplin and his ‘Herbie’-liveried Beetle RSI head for the Silverstone showdown with a 32-point lead and with three rivals in with a chance of denying him.

Round 11
The rain arrived at Donington 30 minutes before the race, giving the drivers the daunting task of choosing which tyres to use; most opted to use full wet Hankooks.

AWM Motor Sport man Aaron Mason made a brilliant start off the line from fourth on the grid and set about his rivals to exit the first corner, Redgate, on top, taking advantage of polesitter Fulbrook running wide. As Mason took command there was plenty of action behind, providing spectators with some thrilling bumper-to-bumper action.

Fulbrook recovered from his first-corner error to pass Chaplin at the Goddards hairpin to end the first lap in second; Chaplin seemed to be struggling with the wet conditions with the Beetle.

KPM Racing’s James Walker, determined to show off his wet-weather skills on his home circuit, ended the opening lap in fourth, with his father, Richard, hot on his tail as the pair looked to use the track conditions to their advantage.

On lap three, a charging Walker Jnr was able to make the perfect move on Chaplin into Redgate and, if that was not enough, the two-time race winner then took second off Fulbrook’s hands, followed through by Walker Snr.

Fulbrook, who played his points-doubling Joker card prior to the round 11 action, still had that determined look about him as he attempted to take the fight back to the Walker pairing, but an error at Starkeys ended his hopes of challenging for second, leaving the Maidenhead-based driver with a fourth place finish, behind Mason, Walker Jnr and Walker Snr. Chaplin finished fifth to claim a respectable points haul, ahead of his Gloucestershire compatriot Steve Wood.

A notable performance came from another of KPM Racing’s Nottinghamshire drivers, Mark Howard, who brought home his Golf GTI seventh, achieving his best result of the year to date. Championship debutant Chris Levett, a seasoned truck racer but new to saloon racing, placed eighth ahead of Richard Morgan and Tim Snaylam.

Craig Milner had an entertaining introduction to the series, the Matlock driver, who has raced in the Ferrari Open series this year, able to recover from several spins to bring home the SEAT Leon 15th.

“I made a great start and it was nice to enter Redgate and exit the corner in first,” said Mason. “We had a very good set up on the car for the wet and I managed to pull a good lead in the first lap, which left the four cars behind me battling and I was able to build on that as the race went on and the tyres came in. The Golf felt brilliant and it’s a credit to the team.”

“I got a terrible start and ended up back in the midfield,” said James Walker. “I anticipated that everyone would slow into Redgate on the inside which enabled me to go round the outside and make up a few places. I struggled to get past Steve and Joe, and by that time Aaron was four or five seconds up the road and I just couldn’t close the gap.”

“We seemed to go well in the wet today,” said Richard Walker. “The car performed very well and with our experience we did well, I’m happy to be on the podium again.”

Round 12
James Walker claimed his third victory of the season in another wet race to end a successful weekend of racing for the Nottingham driver in his Golf GTI, and for the KPM team.

It was all action into the first corner: pole man Wood made a good start off the line in his Golf GTI but soon came under intense pressure from Walker Snr and Jnr, after close racing between Fulbrook and Chaplin allowed the family duo to go ahead into second and third respectively, with Wood soon losing his position to the pair of racers from Nottingham.

Chaplin recovered to take third, followed through by Fulbrook and Mason, as Wood’s first lap went from bad to worse.

AWM’s round 11 winner Mason soon set about Fulbrook and, as the pair went through Coppice for the second time, the Doncaster driver, now in his third year of Volkswagen racing, was able to make his move stick after an impressive start from sixth on the grid.

As the Walkers edged away from the chasing pack, there were further changes to the order behind, with Chaplin struggling to maintain his pace in the wet, allowing Mason and Fulbrook through into third and fourth respectively.

Fulbrook was by no means ready to let things lie after losing out to Mason on the second lap, the Bora man piling the pressure on Mason as he attempted to win back the position lost. It was to no avail, however; Mason continued to shine in the wet and secured his second podium finish of the weekend with third place behind the Walkers.

As the race progressed the battle between the Walker clan intensified, Junior eventually pushing Senior to his limits and causing the experienced racer to make a slight error exiting Redgate on lap seven. Despite a fight-back from dad, James seemed well at home in the tricky conditions and was able to lead his father to the line.

Chaplin led home Fulbrook for fourth and, continuing his impressive debut weekend, Levett improved on his round 11 performance to bring home his Golf a respectable sixth, in front of Wood.

Howard was unfortunate not to match his round 11 result but was pleased to have bought his Golf home eighth after a productive weekend. His KPM team-mate Peter Lettinga placed ninth and Morgan rounded out the top ten.

Other notable performances came from SlideSport’s 17-year-old charger, Zoe Wenham. She started 23rd and was able to work her way up through the field to finish 14th, despite a brief moment on lap six at the Old Hairpin. Caddy Van racer Simon Elliott also put in a fine showing after suffering a non-finish in round 11. The Northamptonshire man came through the field to finish 15th.

“To win today on my home track, that I have been coming to since I was a child, is brilliant,” said James Walker. “I got another poor start off the line and I had the inside line thinking that I was completely blocked. Luckily for me Joe and Steve went to the outside of the corner and that allowed me to get down the inside into second. From that point we managed to edge away and gain a bit of a gap and I was able to get my dad on the exit of Redgate. It’s been a fabulous weekend and to share it with my old man is brilliant.”

“I had a fantastic start for a change,” said Richard Walker. “I managed to get into the lead at Redgate and I was away. I used the tyres up fairly hard in the opening stages of the race, which meant that James was always behind me from then on. Unfortunately I made a mistake at Redgate and James was there to capitalize on that. I’m very happy to take second.”

“My start out of the blocks was pretty good,” said Mason. “I got boxed on the outside at Redgate and couldn’t get back to the inside so I lost quite a lot of ground; it took me a few laps to get over that. I had a battle with Joe for four or five laps and by the time I had got into third, the lead pair had too much of a gap.”

Post-race scrutineering
Technical checks after the Donington events found irregularities in the engine map of Richard Walker's Golf GTI, which was excluded from the results of both races.



9 OCTOBER 2011


For the second year in succession, Steve Chaplin has been crowned the champion of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants. The Gloucestershire-based Beetle racer clinched the title at Silverstone with a seventh-place finish in the championship’s penultimate round, and then rounded off his season in perfect style with a win in the finale.

It was a fitting end to a remarkable year for the 46-year-old, who now hopes to pursue a career in GT racing. Steve moved ahead in the championship after its summer visit to Zandvoort, where he scored twin wins to add to his earlier Snetterton victory. A further win followed at Rockingham, and now Silverstone, and in addition he scored a further four podium finishes.

Chaplin modestly puts his success down to a “methodical, steady pace”, adding: “There are others in the field who have struggled on occasion and that has put them on the back foot. We have done just enough, and it’s thanks to a car which we have set up to give good mechanical grip in the dry; it handles as well as anything out there.

“The problem comes when it is wet – then it is a case of making the best of a bad job and seeing what we can eke out of it. We’ve been pretty fortunate with the weather this year, thankfully.”

Chaplin says he owes it all to his Complete Utilities team, which has won the championship’s team prize. “The lads I have around me are great – Chris Jones, John Dowds, Craig Davies, John Davies, Mike Davies – and all my sponsors have been so supportive. Your dream is to win something like this once, not to do it for a second time, so it’s an amazing feeling to be champion again.”

The first race of the day on Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit was a slippery affair which saw some runners gamble on a full slick-tyre set-up and others playing it safer with a slick/wet tyre front/rear mix. Pole man Joe Fulbrook was one of the brave ones and his choice looked to have been the right one initially as his Warranty Direct Bora led Aaron Mason’s AWM Golf GTI in the opening laps.

The conditions certainly suited the returning 2006 Champion Paul Taylor and his four-wheel-drive Golf R32, which from 16th on the grid after problems in qualifying had blasted its way through to fourth by the end of the opening lap, and up into third next time around past Chaplin’s Beetle.

Fulbrook fell foul of the treacherous Becketts corner on the third lap when he half spun and managed somehow to collect everything together in time to prevent Mason from stealing past for the lead. Two laps later Joe had to cede top spot to his rival through Village and from that point on Mason was well on his way to his fourth win of the year.

“It was a very tricky race, but I got off the blocks well,” said Mason. “We had wets on the rear and slicks on the front. I knew that Joe was on full slicks so this made me very anxious to get past him, however it seemed more sensible to sit behind him for the first half of the race because we were still pulling a gap from the rest of the pack. Despite making an error that lost me a bit of time, the wets hung on and I was able to get the victory.”

“The track was awfully slippery but it was a very good race,” said Fulbrook. “We spent the week setting up the car for the dry but as usual it was quite greasy out on track. We had a good race and luckily Aaron backed out of a few moves because I put it sideways a couple of times as well. Hopefully it was good fun for everybody to watch.”

Taylor was unable to make any impression on the top two but finished a more than safe third in his first Volkswagen Racing Cup outing of the season. “The four-wheel-drive Golf is always superb for starts,” said Paul. “The conditions today played right into my hands. The boys at the front were quick, I couldn’t quite match the two of them, but against the rest of the pack the R32 was right on the money.”

James Walker was another to opt for dry-weather Hankooks all around, and he found his KPM Golf GTI more than a handful in the conditions. “Full slicks weren’t the right way to go, really,” he said, “but I enjoyed myself.” From ninth on the grid James fought through to fourth at the chequered flag, demoting Auto Express journalist Owen Mildenhall on the final lap.

Mildenhall was having a great outing in Volkswagen Racing UK’s new Mk VI Golf GTI, and delivered its best finish since Nick Beaumont drove it fourth at Rockingham. Stewart Lines collected his first points of the year with sixth in his Mk V Golf.

Seventh place was more than enough for Chaplin to put the championship title beyond the reach of his three title rivals, and he got the better of an entertaining late-race battle with the Golfs of young Thomas Wilson and Peter Lettinga to secure the position. Alex Dziurzynski’s Corrado collected 10th ahead of Zoe Wenham’s Golf and Mike Kurton’s Scirocco.

The slippery conditions led to many spins and excursions, most seriously for Paul Wyhinny in the SEAT Leon promo car, which smote a tyre wall.

Round 14
The dry track conditions that suit Chaplin’s ‘Herbie’ Beetle so well materialised for the second race of the day and the championship curtain-closer. Steve started from seventh and was soon on the move, passing Mildenhall and Tim Snaylam on lap two and then charging past Taylor, Mason and Walker on the third lap to take up station on leader Fulbrook’s tail.

Fulbrook had taken over in front after Taylor had spent two laps in charge, Joe passing Paul through Aintree Corner in a Bora clearly perfectly suited to the track and the conditions. But Fulbrook’s mirrors were soon full of Chaplin’s Beetle and a superb two-lap battle ensued which was decided, cruelly, by an electrical problem for the Bora. “It was the master switch,” said Joe. “I was driving along bashing the dashboard trying to make it work… It was such a shame because I would have won that.”

Fulbrook’s problems left Chaplin with a 3.4s lead and little danger of losing it as second-placed Walker had his hands full defending against the attentions of the pursuing Mason. Aaron managed to find a way through down the Hangar straight and into Luffield on the sixth lap.

Chaplin was 6s clear of Mason at the line. “I’m not really used to starting on the fourth row of the grid,” said champion Chaplin. “It got very close and tight going into the first corner, luckily I just held it all together and gradually we managed to work our way through the field.

“I came out this morning and struggled to fight with the championship situation playing on my mind, but once we got the championship sorted it all came right and it means the world to show the team that they have done a great job and produced a great car.”

Added Mason: “It was very close over the first three laps, so much so that I started to go backwards,” said Mason. “Once the gaps came I managed to pick some pace up. I had a great battle with James Walker and I think I enjoyed that race more than winning this morning.”

Walker’s third place was enough to net him the championship runner-up position: “I think I was on the grass more than the track in the first three laps of the race,” said James. “I ended up having a huge battle with Aaron all the way through, we were both overdriving so much, it was just great fun.

“Most importantly we have scored a result which gives us second in the championship, which is what I came here to do.”

Thomas Wilson saved his best for the last race, taking fourth in the Golf ahead of Taylor, who said he was delighted with his “blinding” race. Lines placed sixth ahead of Didge Dziurzynski’s Mk II Golf, with the Golfs of Richard Morgan and Mark Howard sandwiching Mike Kurton’s ninth-placed Scirocco.

Tim Snaylam, who started from 15th, did well to fight through to 11th at the flag, ahead of Chris Jones’s Jetta and Simon Elliott in the Caddy, the new boss of Volkswagen Group Ireland enjoying his final fling in the astonishing racing van. “It has been a brilliant two years,” said Simon, “a fantastic experience. This is a great championship and the camaraderie is awesome.”

As in race one there were several excursions. Zoe Wenham’s race came to an abrupt halt on the opening lap when her Golf was collected by a spinning Peter Lettinga, and Mildenhall’s hopes of another good run in the Mk VI Golf were dashed when he was punted off on lap three.



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