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By karlbowdrey, Apr 1 2018 11:17PM

The opening round of the 2018 Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup got underway at a very wet and overcast Silverstone, where a 20-car grid took to the field for the first time.

Qualifying was early and faced difficuilt track conditions. With lots of standing water to deal with the first few laps were handled with caution before the competiton started to emerge.

After the 3rd lap it was Simon Walton who was holding the top spot before losing control and hitting the tyre wall causing some front end damage ending to his qualifying session. Walton went on to retain the top spot for several laps despite not being on track before the times began to fall. Jamie Bond, who was sitting in 2nd for the entire session was pushing harder and harder to steal the lead from Walton but ended up sending himself spinning before rejoining the track in the harsh conditions.

Bond was being constantly challenged from ex-BTCC competitor, Martin Depper, who was currently sitting in 3rd before he put in a perfect lap to jump to the top of the standings. However, Depper’s time at the top was short lived as Dennis Strandberg had other idea’s. Strandberg soon found himself setting the pace at the top with a 1:07:871 before Bond squeezed past Depper to secure a starting 2nd place forcing Depper to start the opening round of the season in 3rd whilst Walton secured 4th.

As the grid for the opening race of 2018 formed the weather was temporarily holding off but had left a very wet track in the wake.

As the lights went out for the first time it was Strandberg who lead into turn 1 and as the pack emered towards the end of the opening lap the starting order remained unchanged.

A 4-way fight was starting to form on lap 5 with Depper, Davis, Walton and Clark all fighting for 3rd place but this allowed Strandberg and Bond to create some space. With Strandberg now leading by over 5 seconds it was all eyes further down the grid to Chris Panayiotou, who had been disqualified from qualifying and started from the back of the grid. Panayiotou who was returning to motorsport for the 1st time in 18months and was climing up the timing screens and took the fastest lap of the race.

An issue for Clark dropped him down the leaderboard allowing Walton and Walker to make the pass but it was drama on the last lap for Bond, who was currently only 0.3s behind Strandberg as he was issued a 5s penalty for exceeding track limits - handing the opening race win of 2018 to Maximum Motorsport’s Strandberg.

Team Hard’s Bond crossed the line in 2nd, 4.6s ahead of Davis in 3rd place. The top 10 was rounded out with Depper in 4th, Walton, Walker amd Wilson in 5th, 6th and 7th whilst Panayiotou, Wakefield and Prendergast finished in 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.

The VAG Trophy which joins the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup for the first time in 2018.

Simon Tomlinson, Paul Kenwright and James Goodall all exchanged the lead over the course of the race but ultimately it was Tomlinson, who also took fastest lap, who secured the winning finish with Goodall in 2nd and a DNF for Kenwright.

Dennis Strandberg said: “That was good! I had a great start but towards the end I lost a little bit of time as the clutch stopped working! So I had to do the last couple of laps in 4th but it turned out alright.”

Jamie Bond said: “Tough. Not enough pace but im happy with the podium, we started in 2nd and I finshed in 2nd. All in all its been a good day and it’s a good hall of points!”

Toby Davis said: “We played with the tyre pressures to get a good start but it cost me later in the race. I got my tyres up to temperature quicker than everyone else but It cost me later in the race. I had a really good start but I was hoping it would rain but it didn’t and I feel backwards in to Depper who challenged me lap after lap for about 5 laps but it was a wicked race and one of my best. Im over the mood to be here, to habe Clean CCS on board, leisure time and Rack and Roll garage and of course the team, Team Hard”

The Hankook Trophy is awarded to any driver who has never featured on the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup Podium before; Winner of the Hankook Trophy, JWB Motorsport’s, Matt Wilson said “I’m over the moon! I was really struggling towards to the end as my tyre had completely gone but im over the moon to be on the podium”

Round 2 of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup was held under cloudy skies and with slick tyres on the 2.0L Volkswagen machinery with Tom Walker starting on pole following a top 6 reverse grid draw.

As the lights went out for the 2nd time it was Walker who lead the pack through Copse but it wasn’t long Before Bond, Depper and Strandberg were putting pressure on the rear of Walker.

With Bond now leading the way and with yellow flags deployed at Aintree for Ethan Hammerton who had come to a stop, Depper had managed to come alongside Walker and just nudged his nose past the Allumy Motorsport driver who had been fighting to hold the ex BTCC driver at bay.

Strandberg had made the move on Depper and was closing in on Bond at the front.

Panayiotou was making yet further progress and was up to 6th whilst Mark Wakefield got up the inside of Clark to take 7th.

With track limit flags being deployed it had created a 3-way battle for the lead with only 0.7s seperating the trio, but it was Strandberg who managed to nudge past Bond to take the race lead. Bond later suffered a puncture and had no option but to retire to the pit lane, ending a great fighting start to his 2018 campaign.

The chequered flag was deployed and it was ultimately Strandberg who took the honours from Depper and Walton and also set the fastest lap of the race. Panayiotou had continued to keep pushing and managed to secure 4th place as the flag fell. Clark secured 5th whilst Coggan, Evans and Prendergast secured 6th, 7th and 8th. The top 9 was rounded out by Power Maxed’s Russell Joyce in 9th.

Simon Tomlison came in 1st of the VAG Championship, took the fastest lap and the only VAG driver to complete the race.

The action however did not end once the chequered flag had fallen. Martin Depper had been deemed to have made an illegal overtake under yellow flags and was excluded from the race changing the final podium by promoting Slidesport’s Owen Walton to 2nd postion and Chris Panayiotou to 3rd place.

Dennis Strandberg said: “The team have done an amazing job this weekend, the car wasn’t even running on Friday so its been a unbelievable achievement.”

Owen Walton said: “That start was hard work! I went out on comeplty fresh slicks and knew i'd have to take it easy to start with but I just played the long game and let the tyres come in. I just wanted to get some good points early on in the year so im pleased.”

Chris Panayiotou said: “We came this weekend anticipating a few podiums but after my mistake during qualifying it all looked very unlikely! The car balance felt great but I think being out the seat for 2 years didn't help so didn't quite have the pace of the front 2. A few situations played into my hands leaving me with a P3 and some decent championship points. Massive respect to team Maximum, great cars and great engineers.

VAG Trophy winner Simon Tomlinson said: “Really happy. A bit easier today in the dry. The setup was perfect on the car. I was 2nd for a couple of laps but then I managed to get some heat in to the tyres and then just cruised round towards to the end but its been a great weekend!”

Winner of the Hankook Trophy Ruaridh Clark said “A really good start, the Audi TT spun at the start which allowed me to pass quiet a lot of people and it was just about climbing up from there really. There was lots of time I managed to outbrake people in to turn 1 but I had a good battle with Wakefield from which I had to learn how to defend fast and it was just about the driving from there!”

The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup returns for rounds 3 & 4 at Rockingham on the weekend of 28/29th April.

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