CHAMPIONSHIP HEATS UP AS WITTS WINS TWICE TO CLOSE THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
By karlbowdrey, Sep 11 2016 06:08PM
The penultimate weekend of the 2016 Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup took place at Donington Park on the iconic Grand Prix circuit, a fans and drivers favourite.
With an additional race being added for the weekend due to the postponed round at Silverstone GP earlier in the season a 19-car strong grid took to the field for a damp qualifying session following a morning of heavy rain and high winds.
Toby Davis topped the 20-minuite session throughout only to be briefly interrupted from Tom Witts for less than 1 lap before returning to the top of the timing screens.
Simon Rudd has been suffering a season of mixed fortunes but was keeping the pole sitter Davis keen setting a time 0.040 behind the youngster while current championship leader Phil House was forced to settle for 3rd on the ever drying 2.5-mile circuit.
Tom Witts bounced back from a shaky start to the season and with a change of vehicle for this weekend to a championship proven Volkswagen Scirocco was forced to settle for 4th while Stephen Johansen joining Power Maxed Racing for the weekend posted an impressive lap of 1:55.996 to start in 5th.
With the top 5 separated by less than 1 second, Mark Smith, Bobby Thompson, Kieran Gordon, Darelle Wilson and Benjamin Wallace rounded out the top 10.
Race 1 was held under more bright skies and as the lights went out the drama started to unfold by the first turn.
Bobby Thompson found himself on the receiving end of some unfortunate contact with Peter Barrable as a trio of drivers attempted to become one with Thompson being pushed wide onto the grass and demoted to 11th in doing so.
Phil House was putting instant pressure on Simon Rudd making a strong move up the inside of Redgate while a praying Tom Witts was waiting in the wings to make Rudd pay and followed House, though to claim the position.
Toby Davis was putting all his experience learned so far this season into this race after having made a great start of the line was currently in full control of the race putting a slight lead but on lap 4 the safety car was deployed closing the pack up.
With Mark Smith and Benjamin Wallace both retiring due to contact on the Crainer Curves it was a further 3 laps before racing was resumed due to some extensive barrier damage.
On the restart, Davis kept the pack bunched before making his break, but it was Witts who was putting House under pressure and managed to get his nose in front and make the move stick.
House, however, wasn’t going to give in easily. Looking up the inside of Witts around the Montreal Hairpin but with Witts defending heavily this allowed Davis to pull a lead.
House soon found himself being forced to defend from Rudd which allowed Witts to chance down Davis and in the dying stages of the race Witts went up the inside of Davis at the Fogarty Esses to claim the top spot.
TOM WITTS: Really good, close, clean racing. I had good pace early on in the race, and my brake pedal started going to the floor, which is the last time you really need. So I was trying to manage that while letting them fight behind me.
TOBY DAVIS: I’m very happy with 2nd place considering the problems we have had the last couple of rounds but the team have done an awesome job to get the car back to where it should be. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to have another go and push for the win.
PETER BARRABLE: That was a good tough fight and a great battle. It was good fun, all very clean!
In true Volkswagen Racing Cup spirit, the reverse grid race has always provided plenty to talk about, and round 12 was no exception.
With Paul Dehadray starting on pole position when the lights went out it was Paul Ivens who launched from the start line but by the time the pack enter Redgate for the first time Dehadray was tapped from the rear in the JW Bird Scirocco which resulted in him running wide and shortly after being forced to require for the race.
But It was a turn of fortunes for Bobby Thompson who was stealing the show. Thompson, making up 7 places in 2 laps was now faced with Paul Ivens ahead for the race lead, but it was only a matter of time before he attempted the move and made it stick.
With Thompson now leading, Toby Davis made heavy contact with the wall after going straight on at the Crainer Curves being unable to stop his Volkswagen Golf. With Davis car being stranded the Safety Car was deployed allowing the safe recovery of his car.
On the restart, Thompson bunched the pack up and made the clean break over the line. Ivens was being forced to defend from Witts, but this allowed House to close the gap.
With House now on the tail of the front runners, it was Ivens who made a mistake running wide allowing House and Witts to pass. House now had his eyes set firmly on Thompson, the race leader and for the next 3 laps, the trio played a game of cat and mouse.
On the final lap and separated by less than 1 second the trio enter the Montreal Hairpin for the last time where Thompson was forced out wide allowing both House and Witts to make the pass.
PHIL HOUSE: Brilliant. I noticed that Bobby (Thompson) was struggling through the chicane as his car was hopping like mad but I just went a bit slower in and just got the run on him I know he’s fair, but it helped Tom (Witts) sneak through as well. It was good clean racing with us all.
TOM WITTS: Mega race, that’s what VW Cup is all about clean, close racing. You just seem to be able to drive so close with no contact here there are a few people out there that just want to run into the back of you and nail you off as soon as you overtake them but yeah, great race.
BOBBY THOMPSON: Phil (House) had a nose up the inside of my coming into the final turn and done the dummy on me although I could have done without the safety car.
Toby Davis was starting on pole for the 3rd race of the weekend after setting the 2nd fastest lap during the earlier qualifying.
As the lights went out for the final time, it was Bobby Thompson who was making the instant charge and onto the grass in an attempt to make the move on Phil House, but as the pack entered Redgate for the first time, it was House who retained the position.
Further ahead, Witts was putting Davis under serious pressure and as the pair came through the Crainer Curves Witts made an outstanding overtake around the outside of Davis to claim the lead position.
Rudd, looking to bounce back from a mixed weekend was soon defending heavily from House, but it didn’t take too long for Rudd to claim the lost position back.
Davis, being forced to defend heavily in his repaired Team Hard Golf was slowly slipping down the order with Thompson, Rudd and House all managing to pass.
On Lap 7 Mason Lennick out braked himself and ended up beached in the gravel at the Fogarty Esses which resulted in a Red Flag a being deployed and the race being brought to an abrupt halt.
TOM WITTS: Awesome! I couldn’t be happier. I just managed to get past the fight I could see in my mirrors, and they were going at it, but I managed to get a few laps where I couldn’t manage the gap and manage the tyres but yeah mega, mega race.
BOBBY THOMPSON: There were 8 cars in front of me, and I had to get through them somehow. I picked a few of them at the start but I could see Davis up ahead was defending really hard like it was the last couple of laps and managed to make his car a couple of widths wide but I got the move done, and luckily enough he carried on defending, and it gave me a little gap and then, unfortunately, the red flag came out, but it worked in my favour.
SIMON RUDD: Yeah it's great to be back on the podium. That was a hard, hard race I’ve had some awful luck this weekend but I’m glad to finish 3rd although I can’t say I’m overjoyed as I am a little disappointed as I thought the win was a possibility, but it's another podium where we go to brands and hopefully push for a win on my home track.
The final rounds of the 2016 Volkswagen Racing Cup at Brands Hatch take place on the 29th October where the championship winner will be decided.