Volkswagen Racing Cup Report: Race 2, Rockingham
James Greenway is the new leader of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup after the 23-year-old Yorkshireman, new to the championship this season, collected his maiden win this afternoon at the wheel of the White Rose Volkswagen-backed Scirocco.
Reigning champion Aaron Mason took victory in the first race at Rockingham, and looked set to play a key role in the closing stages of race two also until engine problems blunted his Scirocco’s pace. The day’s other podium men at the Northamptonshire speedway were Scirocco racers David Sutton and Stefan Di Resta and Golf GTI man Tom Barley.
Rockingham Race 1 Aaron Mason claimed a lights-to-flag win, but the reigning champion was fortunate to get things all his own way. Pole man Joe Fulbrook looked to have the legs of everybody in the 31-car field and was lining up to take the lead from Mason when his power steering failed just before mid-distance.
Fulbrook dominated Saturday qualifying in his AWM/Warranty Direct Golf GTI, posting three lap times which would have earned him the pole – his best was more than a second quicker than last year’s pole time. However Joe did not make the best start and was swamped away from the line by Mason’s AWM/Warranty Direct Scirocco and by the JWB Scirocco of Stefan Di Resta. Di Resta nosed ahead of everyone for a hundred yards before a gearchange problem left him with a sudden lack of impetus and he too was swallowed up.
When the dust settled on the opening lap it was Mason out in front from SlideSports Scirocco man David Sutton, with Fulbrook third from James Greenway’s White Rose Volkswagen-backed Scirocco and the Maximum Motorsport Sciroccos of Chris Panayiotou and Stewart Lines, with Di Resta seventh.
Less than a second covered the top three over the course of the opening laps and Fulbrook was soon lining himself up to take second away from Sutton; he found a way though on the fifth lap and then prepared to mount his challenge on leader Mason. Disaster struck at Kirby corner on the sixth lap when Joe suffered a repeat of the power steering problems which afflicted his Golf GTI at Oulton Park. “The system failed and pumped fluid on to my tyres, so I spun off and then got completely lost,” said Joe, whose evasive action took him way off track and effectively ended his race.
Despite Fulbrook’s demise Mason had no opportunity to relax – he had Sutton breathing down his neck for the duration. David stayed on Aaron’s tail throughout, waiting for a mistake to materialise, but otherwise unable to challenge. “We knew from qualifying that the tyres were only going to be at their best for three or four laps,” said Sutton, “so I was trying to preserve them but to be honest Aaron made more out of the corners than me and there weren’t many places I could have got him.”
Mason crossed the line eight-tenths of a second ahead for his 17th career win and his third in a row, taking into account his 2013 final-round victory at Donington Park. He felt fortunate: “It definitely would have been Joe’s race, but I’ll take the win. To be fair, I thought David might have got me towards the end, too, because my tyres went off a couple of laps before his. There were bits where I was quicker than him, though, and I managed to bring it home.”
Di Resta overcame the Sciroccos of Panayiotou and Greenway to slot into fourth, which became third with Fulbrook’s demise. “I burnt my clutch out on the line and tried to shift into second a got a bunch of nothing,” said Stefan. “I dropped back and the whole race I was battling with the gearbox – in fact for the last three laps I was stuck in fourth. But I came through and at the end of the day it’s my first full race and I’m happy to be on the podium.” Di Resta set a new lap record on his charge.
A flat-spotted set of tyres hampered Greenway’s chances; he finished fourth, just ahead of the mercurial Tom Barley in his Team Hard Golf; Tom started 12th and described it as “probably my best race – I just seemed able to pick people off”. Philip House was six seconds behind Barley, holding off a final-lap challenge from KPM’s Lucas Orrock to secure sixth and with it pole position for race two. Orrock was rueing a poor start which dropped him well back at the start; the rookie did well to battle through from 13th after lap one to seventh by the end.
Josh Caygill drove through the night from Germany, where he was contesting the opening rounds of the Scirocco R Cup, to start the race from the back of the grid. He made up the most places of anyone, charging through to eighth by the end in his AWM Scirocco. “It was not a bad drive, and good fun from the back,” said Josh. “I’m happy enough with eighth and a better start spot for race two.”
David Fairbrother scored his best finish for two years with ninth for SlideSports, ahead of Lines, whose Scirocco was suffering from steering damage following an incident in qualifying. The Walker family battle went the way of father Richard, who lifted 11th place from son James’s Milltek Sport-backed Golf in the closing laps. Walker Junior endured an eventful race, making a mistake on the opening lap which dropped him to 12th, and then clashing with the Scirocco of his cousin, Jack Walker-Tully, as they disputed sixth. Walker-Tully retired his car on the final lap.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Morgan brought his KPM Golf home 13th ahead of Simon Rudd’s Golf and Robin Riley, whose Scirocco had undergone an extensive rebuild by the AWM/Warranty Direct team following the Oulton Park startline shunt of a fortnight ago.
Tim Snaylam, James Pile, George White, Kieran Gallagher and Paul Dehadray completed the top 20, with Fulbrook classified 26th with an overheating engine following his off-track adventures. Simon Andrews retired his Golf with a blown turbo pipe, while Matt Hamilton’s Golf suffered a puncture after a clash of wheels with Gallagher. Panayiotou exited the race at Kirby on the eighth lap when he ploughed into the gravel trap.
Rockingham Race 2 The Volkswagen Racing Cup welcomed a new winner to its ranks in the second race at Rockingham, with James Greenway pulling off what he threatened to do at Oulton Park last month. But, as with Aaron Mason in race one, the victory spoils might have gone a different way but for the intervention of mechanical problems, this time for David Sutton.
Greenway’s White Rose Scirocco took the lead on the opening lap, the Yorkshireman getting a better getaway from P3 on the grid than did pole man Phil House in his Scirocco and Tom Barley in his Golf. However, they were very nearly all passed on the drag down to the Deene hairpin by Mason, who rocketed up the outside only to have his power steering fail him at the crucial moment. Aaron had to manhandle his Scirocco around the tight bend, losing several spots; he completed the opening lap eighth.
SlideSports team-mates Sutton and David Fairbrother both made superb starts, the former from fifth and the latter from ninth, to slot in behind Greenway on the opening lap, and this trio circulated as one, separated by a bare second, for four laps, with Barley in hot pursuit. Sutton made his move on the leader on the fifth tour, slotting ahead at Deene but finding himself unable to make much of a break.
David lasted three laps in front before gremlins attacked his DSG gearbox and he found himself unable to select anything but fourth gear. Exiting the Tarzan hairpin he slowed and Greenway swallowed him up. Fairbrother tried to follow suit into Deene on the next lap but locked up the Pall-Ex Scirocco and slipped down the order, promoting Barley to third.
After his promising fifth place in race one, Tom was keen for even better and, spotting Sutton had a problem, wasted no time in demoting him to third. Greenway, Barley and Sutton crossed the finishing line in that order two laps later, separated by just 1.6s.
It was Sutton’s second podium of the day but David could not help but think of what might have been: “I got James into Turn 2 and I thought that was it, I was away and off to a win, but then I got stuck in fourth gear... Still, two races and two podiums make it not a bad weekend.”
“Dave was pretty quick out there until his problem set him back a bit,” agreed Greenway. “He managed to build a bit of a gap to me, but then he slowed and that allowed me to get back past him and get the race win which was on the cards for us after Oulton Park. Today’s first race was disappointing for me because I only got fourth, but then I scored good points and now I am leading the championship, so all in all it’s been a good day.”
Barley was delighted by his best-yet finish: “I struggled at Oulton because we had to fit a road-going differential. I knew coming here that with the right equipment in the car I could have a good day. I love this track and I just had a fantastic race.”
Reigning champion Mason had looked set to rejoin the party after his first-lap steering wobble; he set fastest lap of the race as he climbed back from eighth to fourth by mid-distance only to suffer a sudden loss of engine power. Aaron slipped to the very back of the field but salvaged two points for finishing the race; it was his first major mechanical problem in more than a year.
There were dramas for others also as they chased a podium place: James Walker fought a long and tough battle with Josh Caygill and Stewart Lines but was forced to lock up to avoid a collision ahead between House and Di Resta. James spun the Milltek Sport and dropped back behind both Caygill and Lines; he battled back past Lines but couldn’t recatch Caygill before the end. Josh’s fourth place was a career best.
Joe Fulbrook, whose Warranty Direct crew performed wonders between races not only to reconfigure his Golf’s power steering but also to fit a fresh engine, charged from the back of the grid to seventh behind Lines. “The boys did a great job in less than three hours,” said Joe. “The car was perfect and I have at least salvaged something from the weekend.”
Fairbrother recovered from his mishap to claim eighth – a personal best – ahead of Lucas Orrock, who recovered well from a third-lap spin at Tarzan in his KPM Scirocco. Di Resta survived the clash with House to take 10th ahead of Howard Fuller, who started from the back after a first-race spin and a penalty for exceeding track limits.
There were no errors from Chris Panayiotou in this race on his way to 12th ahead of Jack Walker-Tully, Simon Rudd and Richard Walker. The top 20 was completed this time by George White, Kieran Gallagher, the ever-improving Robin Riley, Tim Snaylam and Craig Mason. Matt Hamilton’s THM Racing Golf suffered further mechanical woes and he limped home 21st. Like House, Sam Morgan’s race ended with accident damage, his KPM Golf coming into contact with an unyielding Rockingham wall.
Current Driver Standings