Volkswagen Racing Cup: Silverstone Race Report
Joe Fulbrook ended his long victory drought at Silverstone today, claiming the honours in Round 5 of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup ahead of young guns Lucas Orrock and Sam Morgan. Reigning champion Aaron Mason bounced back from disaster in race one to take victory in the Silverstone finale, closing the gap to championship leader James Greenway in the process.
Jack Walker-Tully and Stefan Di Resta were the other podium men, their Sciroccos crossing the finish line less than a second adrift of Mason’s after a brilliant battle in the Silverstone sunshine.
Silverstone Race 1After a succession of disappointments at Oulton Park and Rockingham, it all came good for Joe Fulbrook at Silverstone this morning, the double champion scoring his first race victory for 12 months. Joe’s win, the 15th of his Volkswagen Racing Cup career, came ironically at the expense of his AWM/Warranty Direct team-mate Aaron Mason, who fell from the lead with a suspension problem.
Fulbrook’s Golf GTI was again the class of the field in qualifying, the Berkshire man claiming his second successive pole position. Fulbrook qualified 0.165s ahead of the youngest driver of the race, Sam Morgan, to set up an all-Golf front row.
And it was Morgan, who has just celebrated his 17th birthday, who made the better start, his KPM Golf getting ahead of Fulbrook on the charge down to Copse corner. Mason slotted into third off the line ahead of the KPM Scirocco of Lucas Orrock, who had started third and who, like his team-mate Morgan, had enjoyed his best qualifying result so far.
Sam clung to the lead for half a lap until a flying Fulbrook stuck his nose down the inside into Village corner and muscled past him and into top spot. Mason sensed his chance to pounce and followed Joe’s example by diving for the inside into Luffield and demoting Morgan to third. Orrock crossed the line for fourth at the end of the opening lap, and that’s how their positions remained for two laps as the race was neutralised to remove the stricken Golf of Matt Hamilton, which was damaged in an opening lap disagreement with David Fairbrother’s Scirocco.
Fulbrook held a useful 1.5s advantage over Mason at the restart but it wasn’t enough – by the end of lap four Aaron had closed the gap on the leader. The pair ran side by side through Priory and Luffield before Mason was able to edge in front. Orrock had meanwhile snatched third from Morgan, and Stewart Lines, whose Maximum Motorsport Scirocco had been running fifth, was sidelined with a gearbox problem, promoting his team-mate Chris Panayiotou to the top five.
Mason’s tenure of the lead lasted for two laps and, while he could not shake off Fulbrook, the champion appeared to have the measure of things. But Aaron’s race fell to pieces on the penultimate lap when a suspension mount broke, possibly as a result of some early-race kerb bashing. He ran wide at Farm and Fulbrook gratefully regained the lead, with Mason slipping to fifth by lap’s end.
Joe crossed the line 1.6s ahead of rookie Orrock, with Morgan third and delighted to score his maiden podium finish. Panayiotou came home fourth, his best finish of the year. Said victor Fulbrook: “Aaron had the pace to win, so things have worked out pretty well for me. This is really good news for me and for the team after all the hassles we have had with the car this season. We’ve been trying hard and it’s a result which is deserved.”
Orrock said: “I didn’t really have the pace to catch the guys in front so I was just biding my time and hoping someone had a problem, which is what happened. It’s a great result for us – we have had a bit of a troubled start to the year, so all the better for that.”
“It’s a great birthday present,” said Morgan, “especially after all the damage my car suffered at Rockingham. KPM have done a brilliant job repairing it. I made a great start but the others came at me a bit too quick to stay in front.”
Championship leader James Greenway suffered a dire qualifying session, low turbo boost leaving him 14th on the grid, but he battled through to eighth on the opening lap in his rejuvenated White Rose Scirocco and was soon up to sixth. His tyres spent, he was unable to prevent Josh Caygill from passing him on the final lap but James netted sixth – and pole for race two – nonetheless because of Mason’s dramas.
Stefan Di Resta was another leapfrogged on the final lap by Caygill but was able to hang on to seventh ahead of Jack Walker-Tully, who smashed the lap record by three seconds en route to eighth. Howard Fuller’s Golf was the leading Team Hard car to finish, in ninth, with Phil House 10th in his PH Motorsport Scirocco. Mason survived his late-race ordeal to take 11th ahead of a subdued David Sutton in the SlideSports Scirocco, with Hard men Tom Barley and Kieran Gallagher next up ahead of championship debutant Joe McMillan in the Cobra Motorsport Scirocco.
Silverstone Race 2Robbed of possible victories at Rockingham and in the first Silverstone race, Aaron Mason (above) this afternoon enjoyed a trouble-free run to his third win of the 2014 Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup season. Mason’s AWM/Warranty Direct Scirocco stormed from 11th place on the grid – his worst starting position of the season – to the lead within four laps of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, and held off massive challenges from Jack Walker-Tully and Stefan Di Resta to take the honours.
Round six provided numerous changes of lead and the result was uncertain right to the line, where less than a second separated the top three after the most exciting race of the season so far, contested by a near-capacity field of 30 Volkswagens.
Having taken sixth place in race one, championship leader James Greenway started from the pole in the White Rose Volkswagen, ahead of the Sciroccos of Josh Caygill and Chris Panayiotou. A gearchange issue cost Greenway his chance to convert pole to lead, however: “I really struggled to get it into second away from the start and that messed things up a bit and dropped us back,” said James.
Caygill led the opening lap but was unable to hold back Di Resta, who had enjoyed a superb opening lap from seventh on the grid in the JWB Motorsport Scirocco, through Stowe on the second lap. Panayiotou followed Di Resta’s example to push Caygill back to third, and then the mercurial Mason stole that position from Josh also before the second lap’s end.
Lap three saw Mason draft past Panayiotou for second through Vale, and on lap four Aaron took the lead with a neat manoeuvre on Di Resta into Stowe. But any hopes that Mason may have harboured of pulling clear in the remaining five laps faded with his tyres. Di Resta never allowed him to pull more than a car’s length ahead and Jack Walker-Tully, who took over second place four laps from the end, was even more aggressive in his pursuit.
Walker-Tully tried everything in his repertoire to try to force an error from the reigning champion but had to settle for second. “I think I had the pace to beat Aaron but he kept the door closed and I just couldn’t find a way past. Second is the best I could have hoped for and I’m really happy with it,” said Jack of his best-yet result.
“I was really lucky to get the car home at all in the first race, and therefore fortunate to start this one from 11th,” said Mason. “I was even more fortunate to be able to get all the hard work done in the first few laps so that I didn’t have too much battling to do later on with tyres that were going off.”
Added Di Resta from the final podium step: “I’m happy. I feel I should have finished the first race sixth and started this one from pole, but I did well to get in the lead early even though I didn’t have the pace to stay there. I misjudged the end of the race – the chequered flag came out a lap earlier than I was expecting – which was a shame because I was planning to try a move on Jack.”
Panayiotou, rueing a decision to fit only one fresh Hankook to the front axle of his Maximum Motorsport Scirocco, came home fourth for the second time in as many races, ahead of Joe Fulbrook’s first-race-winning Golf, another car suffering from worn tyres.
After leading the opening lap, Caygill’s Scirocco started to succumb to oversteer and he slipped to fifth, chased hard by Lucas Orrock’s KPM car. They tangled as they disputed the position on lap six and both men were delayed, Caygill recovering to sixth at the flag.
Delayed by a puncture and a pit stop in race one, Tony Gilham enjoyed a better time in race two of his seasonal debut, battling through to seventh by the end after starting 16th in the Team Hard Golf.
Despite failing to make the podium in either race, Greenway maintains his lead in the championship. He finished race two in eighth place, saying: “We made some changes to the car between the races to try to make the tyres last longer but we really struggled, so it was a case of trying to salvage the best position I could. We’ll get some testing in before Snetterton and things should be different there.”
Slowed by the success ballast his Golf earned from race one, Sam Morgan came home ninth ahead of Tom Barley’s Golf, Orrock’s battle-scarred KPM Scirocco and Phil House’s PH Motorsport car. After failing to finish race one, Stewart Lines came from the back of the grid to 13th, with David Fairbrother’s Pall-Ex car and George White’s KPM Scirocco completing the top 15. Fairbrother’s SlideSports team-mate David Sutton, a double podium finisher at Rockingham last time, completed a miserable down-on-power Silverstone weekend in 27th and last place following a pit stop.
Current Driver Standings