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A brace of dramatic opening rounds at Oulton Park – contested by a field of 25 cars – kicked off the new season of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup in style today at Oulton Park.

Despite the worst the Easter Bank Holiday Monday weather could throw at proceedings, both races were incident-packed thrillers. Aaron Mason and James Walker shared the spoils and leave Cheshire in joint possession of the championship lead.

A dramatic first-corner clash, which involved both pole man Mason and Walker, and several others, marred the start of ROUND 1. It was triggered when Cambridgeshire youngster Dominic Pettit made a slightly better getaway from second on the grid in his Vindis-backed Jetta to overhaul the AWM Golf GTI of Doncaster driver Mason on the run towards Old Hall. Mason and Pettit made contact, and then Mason and Walker were in collision, Nottinghamshire driver James then clouting the barriers in his new KPM Scirocco.

Amazingly Walker bounced off the barriers and back on to the track, pointing more or less in the right direction, and was able to get going again in seventh. Alas his return to the track triggered a chain reaction which saw the Golf of 16-year-old Nikhil Chopra and the Scirocco of Kieran Griffin in collision. Chopra was able to get going again but Griffin’s race ended against the barriers, with the safety car called into play while the debris was cleared.

Undeterred by the bumps and bruises, Mason regained the lead from Pettit on the opening lap, before the safety car started its three-lap procession period. Mason looked in no danger of losing his advantage after the restart until a fired-up Walker and his battle-scarred Cooke and Mason-backed Scirocco appeared in his mirrors on lap five, James having battled past Joe Fulbrook’s Bora, Peter Wyhinny’s Leon and Pettit on the way through to second.

James and his KPM-prepared machine hunted down Mason until two laps from the end, when a slow puncture slowed his progress. Aaron was 10s clear at the flag, and said: “It was a bit of a rough start – I got squeezed a bit by both James and Dominic – but it was OK after that until James came back at me a bit strong.”

Walker added: “I made a fairly decent start and was carrying on in a straight line, and then the next thing I know I am heading towards the barriers… I managed to get going again and just kept pushing until the tyre started to go down. I can’t complain – second is a good result for the opening round.”

Pettit came under heavy pressure in the late stages from his KPM running mate Wyhinny, the latter making a strong return to racing after 10 months away. Dominic was just a tenth clear of the SEAT UK boss at the line.

Last season’s top rookie, Tom Wilson, was an encouraging fifth in his Complete Racing Golf (with his racing novice dad, Jonathan, claiming 19th on his track debut), with Fulbrook sixth with handling woes.

Mike Neuhoff, the 2001 champion, showed few signs of rustiness, qualifying his KPM Mk VI Golf seventh and battling back to that position after slipping to 10th on the opening lap, claiming fastest lap along the way. Craig Milner’s new Scirocco carried him to eighth, ahead of championship newcomer Andy Wilmot and fellow Golf men Richard Morgan, Philip Morris and Cameron Thompson.

There were good drives from several racing rookies in addition to Jonathan Wilson: Paul Dehadray placed 13th, one spot ahead of ex-Superbike racer David Fairbrother, with Simon Tomlinson 20th and Chopra 21st.

ROUND 2 was no less dramatic, with Pettit making an extraordinary start from fourth on the grid to drive around the outside of everyone into Old Hall to nose his Jetta ahead. Dominic’s glory was shortlived, however: Mason demoted him to second before the lap’s end and then Pettit slithered into the Shell Oils Corner gravel trap on lap two.

A brief safety car period allowed Walker’s Scirocco, well patched up between races, to pounce at the restart and demote Fulbrook from second. A string of fastest laps from James brought him close to leader Mason, and he made his move for the lead on the seventh lap at the Shell hairpin, Aaron having to give best to his rival: “James had better pace in that race,” he said, “perhaps because I used the same wet tyres all day – a new set might have helped. However, overall it’s been a good day and I’m not disappointed.”

“That was a really good, clean race,” said Walker. “I had a good battle with Aaron and managed to find a way past at Shell. A first and a second from the opening weekend of the season is a great result and I’m very pleased.”

Like Pettit in race one, third-placed Fulbrook felt heavy late-race pressure from determined SEAT driver Wyhinny: “I saw him coming but managed to stay ahead, just,” said Joe. “Peter drove very well, all credit to him. My old car is showing its age a bit now and we have struggled with the set-up today; some changes we made worked and some didn’t…”

As in race one Wyhinny was followed to the flag by Wilson Jnr, with Morgan sixth to record his best-yet result in the championship. Morris’s seventh was a personal best also, the FUCHS Lubricants-backed driver racing home ahead of Milner and Griffin, whose heavily repaired SlideSports Scirocco had had to start from the back of the grid. Truck racer Chris Levett took 10th ahead of Wilmot, Neuhoff, championship returnee Richard Kingsnorth and the Beetle of Tony Harberman who, like Levett, had started from the back after a first-race off.



19 MAY


James Walker staged a brilliant recovery drive at Brands Hatch this afternoon to secure his second race victory of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup season. The Scirocco driver fluffed his start and threw away pole position advantage, slipped back to fifth and had to battle back the hard way to take the win in front of an appreciative and large crowd at the DTM meeting.

Walker’s win in the KPM-prepared Cooke and Mason Scirocco nets him a bumper haul of points thanks to judicious playing of his points-doubling Joker card. After three rounds James is 66 points clear of his closest rival, Aaron Mason, who salvaged ninth today after starting from the back.

Walker’s dominance began in qualifying yesterday; the Nottinghamshire man was 0.4s quicker than Howard Fuller in the Tony Gilham Racing Golf, with KPM’s Mike Neuhoff an encouraging third in the Mk VI Golf GTI and James’s father, Richard, fourth on his return to the series.

But it all went wrong on the startline: “I completely fell asleep,” said James. “I felt myself creeping, stopped, looked down and when I looked up the lights had gone and everyone was going past me.” Walker’s error handed a prime opportunity to Neuhoff to strike, and the Northamptonshire man did not waste the opportunity, charging to the front through Paddock Hill Bend.

It was an eventful opening lap, with Richard Walker surviving a moment through Paddock and contact with Fuller’s car to emerge second, ahead of championship returnee Shaun Hollamby, who enjoyed a superb start from eighth on the grid. Fuller and Dominic Pettit were first-lap casualties of the track’s tight confines after colliding following Howard’s brush with Richard Walker.

James Walker was fifth after his startline tardiness and bottled up behind the SlideSports Scirocco of Kieran Griffin. It took James three-and-a-half laps to find his way past Griffin for fourth, and then in successive laps he displaced Hollamby from third and dad Richard from second, the latter via a brave manoeuvre through Clearways.

Neuhoff’s lead on lap six was of the order of half a second, but James soon whittled that down to nothing and, next time around, swept past for top spot. With Neuhoff’s mirrors soon full of Griffin’s Scirocco, James was handed an untroubled run to the chequered flag. “After my nerves at the start I was able to fight back,” said the victor. “I had to do it sharpish while the tyres were still good, then make a gap and cruise around. We have great pace here; KPM have given me a brilliant car.”

Neuhoff endured pressure from Griffin to the end, and was delighted with second. “I got my confidence back a bit with that race,” said Mike. “But the Scirocco just seems to have that bit of extra pace, and I have to figure out where he’s gaining it.”

Third-placed Griffin was pleased also: “The second half of the race was really enjoyable because I was under no pressure. I got caught up behind James at the start – he did an incredible job to come back from that start – and in the end I settled for third rather than push my luck because I haven’t had the best start to my season.”

Griffin had inherited third on the ninth lap when Richard Walker tried an optimistic overtake on Neuhoff into the Druids hairpin and fired himself off into the gravel trap.

Engine problems in qualifying left double champion Joe Fulbrook a disappointed 11th on the grid. An overnight swap back to an older-spec power unit got him into the race, and the Bora man battled against a lack of power to make fifth by lap nine. Fifth became fourth when he usurped Hollamby three laps later.

Series newcomer Jim Cartwright enjoyed a great debut in his KPM Golf, qualifying 10th and charging through to fifth by the end. He was shaping up to pass Fulbrook two laps from the end but missed a gear and lost his chance. “I’m quite chuffed with my first race,” said the classic Ferrari driver, “but I still have a lot to learn about the car.”

Hollamby, the 2005 championship runner-up, thoroughly enjoyed his comeback drive but rued his lack of seat time in the AWM Golf. Shaun came under intense pressure in the late stages from one of the men of the race, disabled driver Simon Andrews, whose seventh place was a personal best. “I had the pace to get Shaun into Druids, but unfortunately there was a yellow flag there after Richard went off,” said Andrews, who had survived a lap-one scare after a tap from another car sent his Golf reeling sideways.

Golf man Thomas Wilson was eighth for the Complete Racing team, ahead of round one victor Aaron Mason, who had had to start from the back of the grid after his qualifying times were disallowed due to a technical infringement. Peter Wyhinny battled against handling problems to bring his SEAT Leon home 10th, ahead of SlideSports Golf drivers Richard Morgan and the promising rookie Paul Dehadray.

There’s a further APR Volkswagen Racing Cup race at Brands Hatch tomorrow evening, after the DTM track action; by dint of his sixth-place finish, Hollamby will go from the pole.



20 MAY


As debut weekends go in the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup, they don’t come much better than that enjoyed by Jim Cartwright at Brands Hatch. The 23-year-old from Derbyshire scored a fifth-place finish yesterday in his first race in a front-wheel-drive car, and then followed that up with a resounding win today in his Golf GTI. Even better for his new team, he led home his team-mates James Walker and Mike Neuhoff for a KPM 1-2-3.

It was another thrilling race and one which a large and appreciative crowd at Brands Hatch – the Volkswagen Racing Cup was one of the supporting events on the German touring car championship bill – thoroughly enjoyed, with four different leaders and plenty of spectacular action, even though it had to be cut short by a couple of laps due to a pile-up.

With the top six from yesterday’s race reversed on the grid for today, it was 2005 Cup runner-up Shaun Hollamby who started from the pole in his AWM Golf, with Cartwright alongside and, in line astern, double champion Joe Fulbrook in his Bora, Kieran Griffin’s Scirocco, Neuhoff in the Mk VI Golf and round three victor Walker in the Cooke and Mason Scirocco.

Hollamby and Cartwright both made excellent starts to run side by side into Paddock Hill Bend but James slipped behind Fulbrook when he ran wide and brushed the edge of the gravel trap. Then Hollamby got out of shape through Graham Hill Bend and handed the lead to Fulbrook and then endured another lurid moment at Surtees and spun to the back of the field.

An incident-packed first lap was thus completed with Fulbrook leading Cartwright by a couple of tenths, chased by Neuhoff, Griffin and James Walker, and so the order stayed for a couple of laps until Neuhoff displaced Cartwright for second and Walker put his Scirocco ahead of that of Griffin.

At the front, Fulbrook was beginning to struggle. Plagued by engine problems throughout the weekend, Joe was rapidly gaining heat and losing power and had to cede the lead to Neuhoff on lap seven. Fulbrook slipped down the order before calling it a day after 12 laps.

Neuhoff had little time to enjoy his moment in the spotlight, however – Walker had by this time jumped past Cartwright at Paddock and was right on the Golf man’s tail. But James’s car had developed a bit of a problem: “My accelerator pedal dropped off on lap three,” he said, “and then the throttle started sticking, so every time I tried to brake the car was pushing forwards by itself.”

The issue proved Walker’s undoing when, after two laps behind him, Cartwright pounced through Surtees to regain second spot. By now, Neuhoff had a half-second lead but the rookie soon whittled that back and, on the 11th lap, snuck past for the lead through Graham Hill Bend.

Jim, who is more used to racing a classic Ferrari for the family team, quickly built a useful lead and romped home for a memorable victory. “I can’t believe my luck really after I nearly put it off at the first corner,” said the Matlock man. “I really love this racing, it’s a proper battle, and the car was great – KPM did a brilliant job for me.”

Neuhoff’s hopes of another second place on his birthday weekend were dashed by Walker on what turned out to be the penultimate lap when he passed his team-mate through Clearways. “It could have been better,” said Mike, “but I’ll take two podiums… I just really need to spend more time in the seat.”

Though the top three provided more than enough excitement, there were battles raging up and down the field and some great drives from the back of the grid from those who failed to finish yesterday, notably Richard Walker – father of championship leader James – who charged through from the 12th row of the grid to finish fourth on the road. Alas his progress was deemed a little too enthusiastic by the stewards, who docked him five seconds for not observing the track limits.

That promoted Tom Wilson to fourth in the race, and with it championship third, after another solid performance in the Complete Racing Golf GTI. Howard Fuller was another to go from the back, and he posted fastest lap of the race in his Tony Gilham Racing Golf on his way to sixth, ahead of Aaron Mason’s AWM Golf and another back-of-grid starter, Dominic Pettit in the Vindis Jetta.

Disabled driver Simon Andrews put on another impressive display in his Golf GTI to add ninth place today to the personal-best seventh he recorded on Saturday, with early spinner Hollamby recovering to 10th. Rookie Paul Dehadray was the leading SlideSports finisher in 11th after Griffin was forced to the pits from fourth spot after a clash with a back-marker; Kieran continued to finish 20th.

Richard Kingsnorth headed home his Tony Gilham Racing team-mate Andy Wilmot (whose car, like Fuller’s, had undergone a major overnight rebuild by the team) for 12th, with Tony Harberman 14th in his Beetle ahead of ex-bike racer David Fairbrother’s Golf.

The race was shortened by around three laps after a clash at the Druids hairpin between Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT and Richard Morgan’s Golf which left both men’s cars beached in the gravel trap and in a potentially dangerous position.





A brace of dramatic APR Volkswagen Racing Cup events today at Rockingham brought victories for Golf GTI drivers Aaron Mason and Howard Fuller, Mason and his AWM-prepared machine bouncing back from adversity last time out at Brands Hatch, and Fuller notching up the first championship success for the Tony Gilham Racing team. James Walker took second place in both races in his Scirocco to maintain his series lead and also his remarkable record of finishing in the top two in every round so far.

Mason was on mighty form from the outset, claiming his second pole position of the season in Saturday’s qualifying session despite suffering gear selection problems. Behind him on the grid were Walker and Fuller, but Kieran Griffin was unable to take up his grid slot after suffering a badly bruised shoulder in a collision with a tyre wall late in the qualifying session. Complete Racing Golf man Tom Wilson and SlideSport’s Chris Levett completed the qualifying top six.

Mason got away brilliantly to establish a useful early lead over Fuller, but the Surrey man was in no mood to make it easy for Aaron. Howard was never more than a second behind his Golf rival until the eighth lap, when he slipped back a fraction and into the clutches of a waiting Walker.

There was drama in the cockpit of James’s KPM Scirocco at exactly the wrong moment. Said James: “I had the same problem as I had at Brands Hatch – my accelerator pedal fell off with about four laps to go, and it jammed itself underneath. It went just as I was passing Howard…”

Luckily for Walker, Fuller was removed from the equation next time around, called to the pits to serve a drive-through penalty for not respecting track limits. Thus Walker was able to cruise home nearly 10s behind Mason. “Luckily for me Howard had to do his drive through because I was able just to coast it home; my throttle problem scuppered my chances of catching Aaron.”

Without that drama, James may well have had the chance to fight Mason for the win, for Aaron had problems of his own: “I lost my clutch,” he said. “I just managed to get a start out of it, slotted it into fourth and stayed in that gear all the way…”

Joe Fulbrook overcame engine cooling gremlins to make an excellent start from seventh on the grid to slot into fifth on the opening lap, which became fourth when Mike Neuhoff – suffering from a brake imbalance – spun his Golf on the lap two, and then Fulbrook picked up third thanks to Fuller’s penalty. “I was a bit lucky there to get third,” said Joe. “I was never going to catch Aaron or James because I just don’t have the pace in the car at the moment.”

Brands Hatch winner Jim Cartwright made excellent progress from ninth on the grid to battle through to fourth by the end, chased home by Tom Wilson, who racked up his fifth top-five finish of the season. The Wiltshire youngster reckoned he could have finished higher: “We over-inflated the tyres a bit,” he said, “and I think that contributed to high tyre wear which slowed me late in the race.”

Fuller recovered to sixth after his pit visit, ahead of Stewart Lines, who scored his best finish of the season in his KPM Golf, and Richard Morgan, whose SlideSports Golf had undergone a major rebuild following a crash last time out. The top 10 was completed by Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon and Mike Neuhoff, who spun again, this time at the Deene hairpin, on lap five.

Robin Riley collected his best result, 11th, in his Beetle, with Richard Kingsnorth 12th for another best-of-year finish in his Golf and Scirocco man Jonathan Wilson delighted with his highest, 13th, at a circuit he had never driven before Friday.

Dan Crossley raced to 14th on his return to the series, with Paul Wyhinny 18th on his first outing of the season. Doug Ross placed 20th in his Polo’s first outing with its new 1.8 turbo engine, just ahead of championship debutante Lucy Ramsden and Nikhil Chopra, who was running 12th until driveshaft problems forced him to make two pit calls. Among the retirees was Dominic Pettit, who ran as high as ninth in the Vindis Jetta before being halted by a puncture.

Fuller’s penalty and resulting sixth-place finish had an upside: it gave him pole position for race two, with Tom Wilson alongside and Cartwright and Fulbrook immediately behind. Cartwright made a storming start to charge through a Golf-sized gap between the front-row men’s cars and take the lead into turn one. Alas for Jim, it all went wrong at the next corner, the Deene hairpin: “I just couldn’t get it turned into the corner…” He missed the turn and wound up 10th.

Through this drama emerged Fulbrook to seize the lead, and his venerable Bora held on in front for four laps until Fuller jumped him at Deene; next lap Walker demoted Joe to third.

Until the closing laps, Walker’s Scirocco was never more than two seconds behind Fuller’s Golf, and James professed himself happy with the outcome: “It was a good race, I had a good scrap with several guys and no problems to report.”

Fuller was delighted with his victory: “This is probably the last time I will race for a long time and I wanted to win, so I am very pleased. It was a bit exciting at the start but I stayed out of trouble and it paid off in the end.”

Race one victor Mason placed fourth, ruing his decision not to fit new tyres this race, with Pettit making another back-to-front charge and lift fifth place from Tom Wilson two laps from home. Lines, bothered by braking issues, was seventh ahead of Neuhoff and championship returnee Daniel Walker, brother of James.

Peter Wyhinny completed the top 10, ahead of Cartwright and Levett, whose 12th was a best-yet finish for his new SlideSports Mk VI Golf GTI. Riley was next up, ahead of Kingsnorth and David Fairbrother. Simon Andrews, whose first race lasted only a lap due to a broken steering arm, took 20th.

There was last-lap heartbreak for Richard Morgan, who was running well inside the top 10 before he was forced to the pits with mechanical problems.





The best circuit yet visited by the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup – said the drivers unanimously – provided the best racing of the season so far, with a four-way battle for victory, three different race leaders and a popular first win of 2012 for KPM’s Mike Neuhoff which went undecided until the final corner.

Pole man Walker led off the line in the Cooke and Mason Scirocco but he relinquished control to Neuhoff even before the first corner, La Source – “I snatched second gear too quickly,” conceded James. Walker slipped to third behind Aaron Mason, but seized second back from the AWM Golf driver on the run down to Double Gauche.

Neuhoff crossed the line at the end of the opening lap with half a second in hand over Walker, with Mason third from Lines, Gilham, Tom Wilson and Joe Fulbrook. Half a second’s advantage was not enough, as Mike discovered on the Kemmel straight on lap two as Walker slipstreamed past for the lead.

Lap three saw Neuhoff wrest the lead back from Walker, and then on lap four Mason began his charge, unseating Walker from second before taking the lead, and pushing Neuhoff back to third, next time around. Alas Aaron’s time on top was shortlived; engine problems brought his retirement on the sixth and penultimate lap. “It was a great shame,” said Mason. “The others’ tyres were gone and I was just ready to wind it up…”

Joker-playing Neuhoff, like most of the field a racing newcomer to Spa, held his nerve to regain second from Walker just after Mason’s Golf cried enough, and he crossed the line into the final lap with a second in hand over the Scirocco man. Gilham, having got the better of his fight with Lines and Wilson, was by now right with the leaders and gunning for glory; the BTCC man managed to unseat Walker from second but Neuhoff remained ahead at the chequered flag.

“I was getting rather miffed at having gone from first to third in quick time,” said Neuhoff, “and then I saw a spot of oil on my windscreen and it transpired that Aaron had a problem. He disappeared and that left me tailing James again. We had plenty of overtaking between the three of us all race, all good, clean fun – just fantastic. It’s very special to win at Spa. Having never raced here before I’m very happy; it’s such a wonderful circuit.”

Gilham was delighted with his second place, not least because he had missed much of qualifying after a mix-up over his race licence. “I was still signing on when the rest of them were out on the track… We did it the hard way; I lost the clutch and most of the brakes by mid-distance. I should have settled really, but I’m a racing driver and I wanted to push on and I nicked second. I’m in the Scholarship car, and it proves that we can build a good, competitive car.”

“It was a good race, wasn’t it?” said Walker. “My car was getting a bit tired towards the end, and I was pushing really hard because I didn’t want to be third – I’ve not finished lower than second before this year – and maybe I was over-driving it a bit.”

There were battles right through the field and a number of personal-best performances in addition. Tom Wilson placed fourth – equalling his best finish – in his battered Golf, after losing time to the leaders while embroiled with Gilham and Lines; the Wiltshire youngster finished 10s clear of Lines, whose fifth spot was a best-of-season finish, with Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon sixth.

Harberman followed up his excellent qualifying with a record-equalling seventh in the TGR Beetle after passing championship returnee Mark Howard’s Golf early on. “I had no brakes on the final lap,” said Tony, “which was a little too exciting…” Howard was eighth and the first SlideSports driver to finish, ahead of his team-mates Richard Morgan and Rob Daniels, subbing for the injured Kieran Griffin in the Addison Lee Scirocco.

Simon Andrews and Philip Morris duelled throughout the race, with Andrews’ Golf just ahead at the line, and their battle was joined on occasion by the Scirocco of Jonathan Wilson, 13th at the line to equal his top score.

Simon Tomlinson, Andy Wilmot, Richard Kingsnorth and Nikhil Chopra finished in line astern (Chopra’s 17th place a personal best for the 17-year-old rookie), with Fulbrook – his Warranty Direct Bora beset again by engine overheating problems – the final classified finisher. David Fairbrother’s Golf and Andrew Smith’s Beetle joined Mason in retirement.





Tony Gilham, the 2007 Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion, proved that he’s lost none of his old race-winning skills by claiming victory in Saturday’s round, pipping points leader James Walker to the win by less than a second after seven hard-fought laps around Spa.

Just as close and tense as Friday’s race, the Spa finale saw three different men out in front and multiple changes of the lead.

Stewart Lines led the way initially in his KPM-prepared Golf, the Sutton Coldfield man out-dragging pole-sitter Peter Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon off the line to lead into La Source. Wyhinny clung to Lines’s tailgate on the opening lap but was demoted to fourth on lap two by both Walker and Gilham, who started P4 and P5 respectively.

Walker and Gilham saw to Lines on lap three to establish a 1-2, with BTCC man Tony making full use of the awesome Eau Rouge to pass his rival for the lead next time around. James battled back to the front only to be passed once more by Gilham, again through Eau Rouge. Tony, who was playing his points-doubling Joker card, was 0.878s clear of his rival at the flag.

“A fabulous race,” said Walker. “Great first couple of laps with everyone really battling hard. Then I managed to get away, got Stewart, who drove awesomely, and then Tony ended up coming through – I knew he would do. He’s got great pace, and I didn’t want to race him too hard because I’m thinking of the championship. He got me at Eau Rouge twice, which was a bit exciting. All in all, it’s been a great weekend.”

Added Gilham: “I felt I could possibly have got the win in race one but for being held up a bit, so I wanted to finish the second race on a high. It’s good to get the win and good to be back in the championship. It was a tough race. There’s room for two through Eau Rouge, so long as you are both committed and both sensible. We got through there twice side-by-side, and that’s quite an achievement in itself.”

Lines was in close attendance to collect his maiden Volkswagen Racing Cup podium finish. “I’m delighted,” said Stewart. “I’ve had such a bad year up to now. I let James and Tony through but hung on to them and, to be fair, I learned a lot from watching them.”

Stewart was joined in the closing laps by race one winner Mike Neuhoff, who started from P6. “I got caught up behind the battle for fourth between Peter Wyhinny and Tom Wilson for too long,” said Golf man Mike. “By the time I had made it past them the top three were too far up the road. Another couple of laps and it might have been a different story.”

Wilson’s Golf GTI battled past Wyhinny’s SEAT Leon for fifth on the third of the seven laps, the Wiltshireman collecting his sixth top-five result of the eight-race season, with Wyhinny in close attendance for another top-six finish.

Seventh looked to be going in the direction of Golf GTI man Simon Andrews after the Hampshire-based disabled driver got the better of a long fight with the similar car of Richard Morgan. Alas, fuel starvation struck Simon on the final lap: “It was fine going down the hills, but going up them it started to splutter…” His seventh became ninth as Morgan and Rob Daniels in the Addison Lee Scirocco took advantage.

Golf drivers Mark Howard and Philip Morris were next up, the latter savouring every moment of his maiden Spa races and profiting too, doubling his points by playing his Joker card.

Jonathan Wilson scored his best result of the year with 12th in the Complete Racing Scirocco, ahead of Simon Tomlinson’s Golf. David Fairbrother was 14th after a pit stop, ahead of a limping Joe Fulbrook, whose Bora’s mechanical woes reappeared after race one; former champion Joe had been on for a good finish, too, having charged from the back to seventh on the opening lap.

Race two capped a weekend to forget for Aaron Mason, the Yorkshireman succumbing to engine failure on the opening lap. He was joined in retirement by several, notably Gilham Racing men Andy Wilmot (power steering failure), Nikhil Chopra (driveshaft) and Richard Kingsnorth (lap one spin). Wilmot had been on for a top 10 finish and Chopra was 13th going into the final lap. Tony Harberman’s strong Spa run was ended after three laps with gearbox problems.





On a weekend when the championship frontrunners did not enjoy the best of outings, two new names were added at Snetterton today to the roster of 2012 race winners in the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup. One was that of BTCC star Tom Onslow-Cole, who made a memorable debut in the series in a Scirocco R, and the other was Joe Fulbrook, the 2008 and ’09 champion, whose venerable Bora collected the 13th victory of its career.

With thunderstorms severely affecting Saturday’s track action at Snetterton, Racing Cup qualifying was postponed to Sunday morning and, in sunny and dry conditions, Joe Fulbrook collected his first pole of the season thanks to engine electronics work which appears to have cured his car’s season-long ills.

Onslow-Cole, who signed up to race a KPM Scirocco as practice for next weekend’s Snetterton BTCC rounds, was second fastest, 0.170s down on Fulbrook, with another championship debutant, 16-year-old Mini racer Henry Gilbert, a remarkable third in a Team HARD Golf GTI.

Under threatening skies and spots of rain the first of the day’s races suffered an aborted first start following a string of startline shunts. First to get squeezed into the barriers was young Gilbert, and he was followed in short order by the Golfs of Philip Morris and Nikhil Chopra; all three cars were eliminated from the weekend by the incidents, which necessitated a stoppage for barrier repairs.

The second start saw Fulbrook haring away from the pole once again, pursued by Onslow-Cole, who attacked several times around the twisty infield and again on to the Bentley Straight before finally finding a way around the Warranty Direct Bora through the Nelson right-hander.

Fulbrook chased for all he was worth, but with the race shortened to a 10-minute sprint following the stoppage, Joe had little time or opportunity to regroup and attack.

Behind the protagonists for the lead there was a three-way battle for third between Stewart Lines’ KPM Golf, Aaron Mason’s AWM Golf and championship leader James Walker’s KPM Scirocco. The fight was effectively settled in favour of Lines when Mason and Walker made contact, both suffering suspension damage which blunted their pace.

Onslow-Cole crossed the line 3.6 ahead of Fulbrook, with Lines third, a further six seconds adrift. Mason was just behind for fourth, with Walker dropping well back towards the end to collect fifth – his lowest finish of the season – ahead of the sister Scirocco of Craig Milner.

“It was a tough race,” said Onslow-Cole. “Joe was hard to get past and I couldn’t shake him off…”

“I think my car was quicker in a straight line,” added Fulbrook, “but Tom drove well and fair play to him for a good win. The Bora is going a lot better this weekend and handling well too.”

Richard Morgan’s SlideSports Golf GTI placed seventh, just ahead of the SEAT Leon Cupra of Peter Wyhinny, with Paul Dehadray ninth to score his best result of his rookie season and AWM’s Simon Tomlinson rounding out the top 10 in his Golf.

Jim Cartwright started 23rd in his Golf after a clash with another car in qualifying and battled through to 11th despite mismatched dampers, ahead of Jonathan Wilson in 12th. Wilson’s son, Tom, fell by the wayside early on in the restarted race with a puncture while holding sixth.

Championship second place man Mike Neuhoff took the opportunity during the race stoppage to switch to wet-weather tyres; alas for him the rains did not come until the slowing down lap; he finished 18th.

Another BTCC man making his Racing Cup debut was Rob Austin; his experience was not as profitable as Onslow-Cole’s and ended in retirement after only two laps with mechanical problems.

Fulbrook bounced back to take a fine win in the second race of the day at Snetterton as tyre choice proved crucial in difficult conditions. There was a rain shower before the off, but the track had started to dry as the cars made their way to the grid. The result was a mix of tyre choices, with most – including most of the KPM Racing squad – electing for wets while others gambled on slick rubber.

A great start from row two by Lines allowed him to take the lead, but he was soon under pressure from fellow wet-shod runner Onslow-Cole. The race one winner moved through from row three and took the lead at the end of the opening lap after Lines ran wide at Murrays.

Onslow-Cole’s KPM Scirocco edged away initially, but he was then quickly reeled in by those on more suitable rubber. First Mason went forward to challenge before Fulbrook and Tom Wilson moved to the front. Both had started on slicks, but whereas Fulbrook had bided his time in fourth in the opening laps, Wilson had been on a charge from row 10, a legacy of his first-race retirement.

Fulbrook’s Bora hit the front after four laps with Wilson’s Complete Racing Golf GTI closing in. The Westcountry youngster took the lead on the run to Riches at the start of lap six and looked in control as the duo quickly pulled away from the rest.

Fulbrook wouldn’t let Tom get away, though, and he retook the lead back with just over two laps to go. Wilson remained close, but the experienced Fulbrook held on to win by 0.464s. “It was a bit hairy to start with,” said the former champion. “That was hard going, but it was a matter of being patient, and they all kept getting slower. I really wanted to win and Tom’s good to race with.”

It was Fulbrook’s 13th championship race victory over an eight-season span, and Joe is now just one win behind Paul Taylor in the all-time rankings.

Wilson’s second place was his first podium finish, and it was agonisingly close to being a maiden win. “I was pretty certain about choosing slicks and I thought we would win, but Joe’s a good driver,” he said.

Almost half a minute behind came a tough battle for the final podium place. Mason and Onslow-Cole fought it out initially before Cartwright – after starting from row six on slicks – snatched third on the penultimate tour. “The front of the car got rearranged a little bit,” admitted Cartwright of the fierce scrapping. “There were bits of car everywhere, but it was an awesome race.”

Mason was fourth, just holding off Onslow-Cole by a tenth. Having fallen as low as sixth at one point with his worn wets, the BTCC driver managed to repass Lines for fifth on the last lap to complete a fine first weekend in the series.

Jonathan Wilson’s Complete Racing Scirocco wasn’t far behind sixth-placed Lines to collect his best finish of the year to date, while Neuhoff finished ninth, behind Craig Milner, from 18th on the grid. Wyhinny rounded out the top 10, ahead of Simon Andrews and championship leader Walker, who started on the front row but fell back straight away. Nonetheless, with only four races remaining, Walker maintains an 84-point championship lead.





Martin Depper became the ninth different race winner of the 2012 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup season today at Silverstone, the Birmingham driver making an impressive championship debut at the wheel of a KPM-prepared Scirocco to lead nearly all the way.

Former Mini racing champion Depper qualified the Scirocco on pole by a six-tenth margin from former double champion Joe Fulbrook and saw off an early challenge from the Bora driver to take command on the opening lap of the race.

Depper and Fulbrook both made superb starts from the front row, with Joe attacking into Copse and running alongside Martin towards Becketts before nosing in front. Depper responded with a slick manoeuvre into the tight left-hander at Village to regain the lead, however, and by lap’s end was 0.7s up.

Behind Fulbrook for third was Simon Andrews, who made a rocketship getaway from 11th on the grid in his DSG semi-automatic Golf GTI. “I think some people were a bit surprised by me at the start,” said Andrews, “but I wasn’t, because this track really suits my car and it always makes great starts off the line here.”

Fulbrook kept well in touch with the leader until the fourth lap, when the Bora peeled into the pits after a turbo pipe blew off. That promoted another fast-starter, Jim Cartwright, to second. The Golf man had started P8 and was on Andrews’ tail in fourth by the end of the opening lap. He demoted Simon from third on lap two and then found himself second with Fulbrook’s demise.

By this stage Depper was 5.7s clear and in no danger of losing his debut win. Martin was delighted: “That’s not a bad start… It’s one of the best cars I’ve ever driven and we get on great. We have a brilliant set-up which is working all the way around here; it’s pretty picture-perfect really. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully to doing more of the Volkswagen Racing Cup in 2013.”

Cartwright’s second place came under attack towards the end from championship leader James Walker, who had battled up from sixth after the start in his KPM Scirocco. The two Jameses circulated nose to tail for several laps with Walker sizing up a pass but allowing discretion to get the better part of valour to secure a KPM 1-2-3 and maintain his hopes of clinching the championship title tomorrow.

Said Walker: “It was a great race. I have to say bad luck to Joe – we were never going to catch him; really Jim and I were racing for third place. I got a good start but then lost a few places on the opening lap, then managed to fight back slowly and then caught Jim. I could have put a bit of a move on Jim but I had my mind on the championship.”

Truck-racing champion Chris Levett, returning to the championship after a two-meeting break, scored his best finish of the year with fourth in his SlideSports Golf, passing his team-mate Kieran Griffin (Scirocco) and Andrews early on.

Griffin posted fifth place on his first outing since his Rockingham crash, ahead of championship returnee Peter Felix, who drove like a man inspired to sixth after practice problems left him 23rd on the grid.

Tom Wilson battled understeer in his Complete Racing Golf to claim seventh ahead of Andrews, with Stewart Lines fighting through from the very back of the grid to an excellent ninth at the flag. KPM’s mechanics had had to replace Stewart’s engine in the four hours between qualifying and race.

Richard Morgan brought his Golf home 10th ahead of the SEAT of Peter Wyhinny, Craig Milner’s Scirocco and the Team HARD Golfs of Andy Wilmot and Nikhil Chopra, the latter another back-row starter. Jonathan Wilson completed the top 15 in his Scirocco.

There were disappointments for championship top-six men Mike Neuhoff and Aaron Mason, Mike sidelined by a loose throttle pedal on the opening lap and Mason hobbled by a down-on-power engine which left him 18th at the line. Others out of luck were Golf-driving youngsters Jack Walker-Tulley and Henry Gilbert, both of whom suffered mechanical dramas early on.





Championship newcomer Martin Depper made a strong impression on the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup at Silverstone this weekend, becoming not only the ninth different race winner of the season but also the first to win both races in a weekend. Depper’s Scirocco led home a KPM 1-2-3 in both events.

There was disappointment for another KPM Scirocco pilot, however: championship leader James Walker was sidelined from the second race by a collision. It was not only his first no-score of the season but also a blow to his hopes of clinching the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup title with a meeting in hand.

With the first-race top six reversed for Sunday’s sprint, Peter Felix took the pole in his Golf, ahead of Griffin, Levett, Walker and Cartwright. Depper did not hang about from sixth on the grid, charging past the others to slot into second on the opening lap, just 0.7s behind Felix.

A mistake on the third lap by Felix, when he clipped the kerb at Luffield, gave Depper the opportunity to close in further still, and next time around, at Village, the Scirocco man outbraked his rival to slot into the lead.

“When Martin came up the inside of me it wasn’t a problem for me,” said Felix. “he made a good manoeuvre and I wasn’t going to move over on him. The thing then was that I got a driver warning flag for exceeding track limits and I had to be very careful not to do it again.”

Depper pulled clear to win by 7.5s and was thrilled to be the season’s first double winner. “That’s what I like – firsts,” said Martin. “I had to get past quite a few people today and then Peter. He had quite good pace but I could tell that his tyres were starting to suffer. It was a case of biding my time and picking my moment.”

Walker’s grip on third place was loosened by Cartwright on the third lap. James fought back past Jim next time around but they were both usurped on lap five by Stewart Lines, having a great run up to that point from ninth on the grid in his Golf GTI. Unfortunately it all went wrong for Stewart on the sixth lap with a big moment at Village.

Behind Lines there was more grief as Fulbrook and Walker made contact, sidelining both, and Griffin spun his Scirocco, with Tom Wilson having to take avoiding action. This shake out put Cartwright back to third, which position he held to the end despite losing his power steering, and Levett to fourth, just ahead of the Team HARD Golfs of Nikhil Chopra and Andy Wilmot.

Chopra was having his best race of the season from 14th on the grid and, though he lost a place to Tom Wilson on the final lap, the 17-year-old finished a deserved sixth, ahead of his more experienced team-mate Wilmot, for whom seventh was a personal best.

Mike Neuhoff made up the most places of anyone, the KPM Golf driver having started from the very back after his race one retirement; eighth was his reward for a charging drive through the field.

Simon Andrews made another excellent start to make it to fifth around the first few corners, but the Golf man was pushed back to eighth by the opening lap’s end. He slipped further down but bounced back to ninth at the flag, ahead of David Fairbrother, whose 10th place was his best of the year so far.

Jonathan Wilson was 11th to maintain his unbroken scoring record, ahead of Richard Morgan and Lines, who slipped back with mechanical problems after his off-track excursion. Henry Gilbert made it to the finish line for the first time at his third attempt, in 14th, and Cameron Thompson completed the top 15.

The championship goes down to the wire at Donington Park at the end of the month with only one driver – Tom Wilson – able to deny Walker the crown. With 96 points to make up, it will be a tough job for the Westcountry youngster to pull off, even though he has the advantage of still having his Joker card to play.





James Walker claimed overall championship victory in the 2012 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup in convincing style at Donington Park today, the Nottinghamshire racer guiding his KPM-prepared Scirocco to a brace of podium finishes on his home circuit.

Walker’s results in the championship finale bring his tally of podium finishes for the season to an impressive 11, including two race wins. His prize for going one better than the second place overall he achieved in 2011 is a fully funded outing in the final round of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup at Hockenheim in Germany in mid-October.

The 25-year-old clinched the Cup in the first of the day’s races, in which he placed third behind Aaron Mason and Mike Neuhoff. Mason won again in the second race to clinch championship third, a few points behind Neuhoff.

“This means the world to me, it really does,” said Walker. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m really happy. All credit to KPM – they have done a brilliant job for me all season.”

KPM boss Kevin Poole paid tribute to his championship one-two drivers, Walker and Neuhoff: “I couldn’t have asked for two better guys to work with; they have both driven brilliantly all year and they deserve this success.”

The championship notched up an unusual first at Donington Park in not having a practice session. Delays in the Saturday timetable stemming from a power failure at the circuit meant a cancellation of qualifying, and the grid was set instead by championship ranking.

That put Walker on pole in his Cooke and Mason-backed Scirocco, ahead of Neuhoff and the only other driver with a chance of the title, talented young Westcountry driver Tom Wilson. Tom’s hopes, along with those of several others, were dashed by a light shower which made the track treacherous and caused numerous spins and excursions among the slick-shod field.

Mason, who started from fourth, enjoyed an exceptional opening lap in his freshly remapped AWM Golf GTI, rocketing past Wilson, Neuhoff and Walker to take up the running. Walker, tiptoeing around with the championship in mind, held second for five laps before Neuhoff found his way past.

Mason was only six-tenths ahead of a determined Neuhoff at the chequered flag, the Doncaster man relieved to have put behind him the engine gremlins which have marred his season. “It was all about keeping it tidy because it was so slippery out there,” said Mason. “I nearly went off a couple of times so I had to rein it in, which backed me into Michael a bit – he was quicker on some parts of the circuit than me. We’ve put a new turbo in and made some other adjustments since the last meeting, and it seems to have done the job.”

Joe Fulbrook was the only other driver to have held a top-three position, and then only briefly. Challenging Walker for second into Redgate on lap two, the Bora man ran wide and through the gravel trap, his car ingesting so much debris that the power steering failed and left him to struggle for the duration of the race.

Jim Cartwright battled back from a poor start – “I couldn’t get second gear,” said the Matlock man – to take up fourth place on the second lap after Fulbrook’s error, and held on there to the end ahead of truck racer Chris Levett, whose SlideSports Golf demoted Fulbrook to sixth at mid-distance.

Title hopeful Tom Wilson held sixth initially but clashed with a spinning Stewart Lines and was forced to the pits for lengthy bodywork adjustments. He rejoined but finished a title challenge-denting 25th. Richard Morgan claimed seventh in his SlideSports-prepared Golf, ahead of his Scirocco-driving team-mate Craig Milner and Richard Walker, father of James, who blitzed his way from the back of the grid in a KPM Golf despite never having so much as sat in it before raceday.

Tom Wilson’s father, Jonathan, made it two racing dads in the top 10 in his Complete Racing Scirocco, with Coalville driver Tony Harberman 11th on his home circuit in his Beetle RSI. Jack Walker-Tulley, cousin of James, made it a real family affair by completing the top 12 in his KPM Golf – his first-ever race finish. Simon Andrews slipped to 13th in the latter stages in his Golf, having run as high as fourth after a lightning start. Golf men Andy Wilmot and Mark Clynes filled out the top 15.

Kieran Griffin’s miserable luck continued, his Scirocco being collected while it was spinning by the SEAT of Paul Wyhinny, who had no chance to avoid it. Both men retired after the seventh-lap incident.

With the top six from race one reversed on the grid it was Fulbrook who started from pole position, but Joe erred at the Old Hairpin on lap one, ran wide, and slipped back to seventh by the end of the opening lap. That put Cartwright out in front, but only for a lap before Mason, up from sixth, battled past him to set up a reprise of his earlier victory.

A three-lap safety car period, to allow the retrieval of Paul Dehadray’s damaged Golf to a place of safety, gave Mason the opportunity to plan his next move; he executed it perfectly at the restart to gain ground on Cartwright and set the seal on his fourth race win of the season.

Cartwright held on to second in front of Levett until lap eight, when James Walker, unburdened of the need to drive conservatively with the championship in mind, leapfrogged them both to take the running as Mason’s closest challenger. Next time around Cartwright made an error at the hairpin and slipped to ninth.

James chased Aaron hard to close to within three seconds of the Golf man at the line, and right behind him was Walker Senior, up from ninth on the grid and enjoying every minute of his comeback race. Richard had stolen third from Levett on the penultimate lap but was a little too late on the scene to do much about depriving his championship-winning offspring of second place.

“The car is powerful and turns in really nicely,” said Richard, “the only problem I had was the brake balance. If it wasn’t for that I would have beaten the young boy…”

Winner Mason was very pleased with win number four: “It’s a good way to end the year. It’s been a great season and also a troubled one for us, but everyone has problems and some of them are of our own making. I’ll learn from it, move on and hopefully come back stronger next season.”

“That was a great race,” added James Walker. “I was able to let my hair down and race for once. It was a pity that Aaron was able to make the break he did but I enjoyed it all the same. I couldn’t believe who was in my mirrors at the end…”

Levett held on for fourth for SlideSports, ahead of Neuhoff, who was driving cautiously in order to preserve his championship second, and then two men who came through from the back of the grid after their race-one dramas: Lines and Tom Wilson. Morgan was eighth this time from Cartwright, with Harberman an excellent 10th ahead of another Leicestershire driver, 16-year-old Henry Gilbert in his Team HARD Golf GTI.

Fulbrook endured a couple more excursions on his way to 12th ahead of David Fairbrother, Wilmot and Wyhinny. Andrews had looked set for 15th place until the final lap, when his bonnet flew up and smashed his Golf’s windscreen; rather than drive blind he had to pull off.




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