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By Andrea Hurcombe, May 31 2018 03:04PM

Snetterton Circuit hosted Rounds 5 and 6 of Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup at the weekend (26th & 27th May).

With limited testing on Friday morning due to the wet conditions, the sun came out for a glorious afternoon with the drivers taking advantage of the improving weather.

Qualifying took place early on Saturday where Ruaridh Clark set the early pace with Paul Taylor close behind in the 20 minute session. Jessica Hawkins, Dennis Strandberg and Chris Panayiotou were separable only by fractions of a second in 2nd, 3rd and 4th whilst Simon Walton went on a charge and took the lead. With 5 minutes to go Jamie Bond improved his position to take 3rd as Hawkins quickly claimed the place back. At the chequered flag Walton claimed pole, Hawkins took 2nd with Strandberg 3rd.

Jessica Hawkins, aka the ‘Pocket Rocket’, confirmed her one-off entry to the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Cup saying, “I’m pretty excited to be here with Allumy Motorsport with their full support and experience behind me!” Currently working as a Stunt Driver on the Fast & Furious Live Arena stunt show, travelling she said, “I love racing so enter on-off races when the Fast & Furious Live schedule allows”.

Race 1 (Round 5) consisted of 21 of the 22 entered cars on the grid. Owen Walton was not able to take part in qualifying after an accident yesterday in testing in his Slidesport Audi TT. He got a wheel onto the grass at Turn 1 which caught a rise in the grass, ripping the front end of the car off damaging the Mechotronics unit. Whilst this could be replaced the car would then need to be reprogrammed by an Audi specialist. Owen said, “Whilst we have the best mechanics in the pits, the car simply cannot be fixed with this software issue. I’m devastated not to be taking part this weekend. I had a good Round 1, didn’t do so well in Round 2, but had high hopes for this weekend. With our previous added weight from the DSG and success ballast we reduced the power to get the weight down. In testing last week we increased the power again so were hopeful of good results here at Snetterton. We are forever developing the car so we will continue to have a strong car this year and so look forward now to the next race weekend at Brands Hatch. I think the car will also suit Spa really well. We will be testing the week before and then during the official test so fingers crossed for good results there.” Owen is in his 3rd year of racing, having previously driven in Mini and Audi.

Race 1 got underway with a fast start from Jess Hawkins, taking first place from Simon Walton. However, Walton quickly re-took the lead with Dennis Strandberg close behind. Of the start, Walton said, “I’ve raced against Jess before and she always gets a good start. She’s wired into the lights setting I think! After a few corners I realised that she hadn’t got as much heat in the tyres as I had so I had a lot more grip. She went out wide on the Bentley Straight and I got past her”. After some great racing between Walton and Hawkins, Walton pulled away from the chasing drivers. Tom Walker sustained some damage after some contact which put him out of the race. There were further incidents down the field for Josh Coggan, Toby Davis and Mark Wakefield.

Hawkins defended from Strandberg for several laps with the ‘Super Swede’ winning out to take 2nd place. With 7 minutes of the race to go Walton had pulled out a 5.1 second gap in the lead, with Martin Depper up to 4th from 6th. With 5 minutes to go, Depper claimed 3rd place from Hawkins at the Wilson Hairpin. Whilst Hawkins tried to fight back through Oggies, Depper was able to pull away down the Bentley Straight. Meanwhile, Walton set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:06.081

Paul Taylor gained 2 places from 10th to 8th with Jamie Bond climbing to 5th ahead of Matthew Wilson. Hawkins came under pressure from Bond on the last but one lap but managed to hang on to 4th place. Tom Witts made up 3 places from 12th to 9th but on the entrance to the pit lane at the end of the race his suspension snapped, giving the Power Maxed Racing mechanics some work to do ahead of Race 2.

The final result saw a first time Volkswagen Cup win for Simon Walton, 4.229 seconds ahead of 2nd place Strandberg with the final podium place going to Depper 1.826 seconds behind.

Strandberg said’ “I’m really pleased with P2, It’s really good for the Championship and especially good when we’ve had a couple of setbacks at the start of the weekend.”

The VAG Trophy was won by James Goodall, with Mark Steel in 2nd place, taking the fastest lap honours. The Hankook Trophy was won by Jess Hawkins.

Of his first win, James Goodall said, “I’m really happy to get my first win. I managed to pull away from Mark Steel but he was catching me towards the end of the race as I think I’d over-cooked things a bit! But I was so pleased to get across the line and it’s fantastic to be on the podium.”

With a top 6 reverse grid, Race 2 saw Matthew Wilson on pole with Jamie Bond 2nd and Jessica Hawkins 3rd. The Slidesports Team had worked tirelessly to repair Owen Walton’s Audi TT, with the officials allowing him to race despite not being able to take part in qualifying, being placed at the back of the grid for the start. There was also some confusion as Jess Hawkins appeared late to the grid with a cracked windscreen, driving through the pack to take her 2nd row place.

Strandberg, Davis and Depper all had 60kg of success ballast on-board, with Bond and Panayiotou having 48kg. The race got off to a clean start with Depper in the lead by the end of lap 1 with Strandberg and Bond close behind. Matthew Wilson dropped to 8th from his pole position start. Also with 60kg ballast on-board, Simon Wilson dropped to 9th from 6th. Owen Walton had climbed from the back of the grid to 18th place. At the end of lap 2 Depper was still in the lead, closely pursued by a battling Strandberg and Bond, with Bond managing to pass to take 2nd place. Panayiotou had good pace to climb to 4th position. With the top 4 drivers breaking away, Owen Walton continued to gain places further down the pack. Mark Wakefield paid a visit to the pit lane but was quickly sent back on his way by his mechanics. A black and orange flag followed for Hawkins due to her shattered windscreen, caused by her bonnet flying up on the warm-up lap. Hawkins had stopped out on track to put the bonnet back in place when it happened but the damage was too severe for her to be able to continue the race. Davis had got himself into 10th place from 19th when he had to visit the pits with the car stuck in 3rd gear. Bond continued to pursue Depper with only 0.702 seconds between them. Panayiotou took 3rd place from his Maximum Motorsport team mate.

With 10 minutes of the race left, Depper set the fastest lap with a time of 2:06.963. Owen Walton continued his charge through the pack to take 14th place. By the end of lap 5, Ruaridh Clark was pushing hard with an improvement from 14th at the start to 9th. The Team-HARD mechanics worked quickly to be able to get Davis back into the race, albeit 2 laps down. Wakefield paid another visit to the pits and was sent back out again. Strandberg appeared to be struggling with his car as the Volkswagen Polo, driven by Tom Witts, took 4th place setting off in pursuit of Panayiotou who went wide at Oggies but managed to hold onto his place. Panayiotou ran wide again at Coram, again just holding onto his place from Witts. Josh Coggan stopped out on track with an unknown issue. At the end of lap 8, Depper was 1.374 seconds ahead of Bond, with Panayiotou 2.405 seconds behind.

As the leaders approached the end of the 9th lap with time for another lap, confusion reigned where the chequered flag was inadvertently waved and quickly retracted. Depper slowed as Bond overtook him before he also slowed down. After consulting with the Officials it was deemed that the last lap should be discounted meaning that the result was rolled back to the end of lap 9. Therefore the final result saw Depper claiming 1st place, Bond in 2nd with Witts promoted to 3rd after Panayiotou received a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits.

Martin Depper said, “I got a good start, going up to 2nd but Dennis (Strandberg) was looking very racy behind me and at the end of lap 1 he out-braked me into the first corner with us both leaving braking until really late, but I shot down inside, waiting for him to cut back. There was millimetres between us and he went wide and I was able carry on and get the power down and get away. The way the diesel Scirocco works is that it’s so much better in clear air. When I came across the line at the end of lap 9 the chequered flag was out so I slowed down. Bond came past me but the Marshalls were waving us on so I speeded up again. When I came down the pit lane the flag man immediately apologised and it was sorted by the Officials”.

Speaking to Jamie Bond after Race 2 he said, “I started 2nd and had a good launch but was hoping for better. I managed to keep the DSG cars behind for a while and was hoping that Depper wouldn’t come through but he did, as did Dennis, who drove past me like I wasn’t there! The Scirocco’s are very slippery and have got a lot more aero. I thought I had the pace over Dennis but once he went past I couldn’t keep up with him on the straights. When the chequered flag came out I’d got the Team saying 1 more lap and the flag out, with the Marshalls waving us on! I slowed down but the speeded up again as I didn’t want to lose loads of places if we were still racing. I’m happy to come away with good points which is what we need. Martin won fair and square, he’s a mega driver. I’m really looking forward now to Brands, my home and favourite circuit. I’m just really happy to give the Team a podium”.

The VAG Trophy winner was Mark Steel with the Hankook Trophy being awarded to Matthew Wilson.

After a bad mountain bike crash last year Mark Steel’s Boss told him to take up something safer! He said, “Yes my Boss told me to take up something safer so I thought a bit of motorsport! To say that this is only my 4th ever race, I just feel amazing. This is why people go racing!”

With a fantastic weekend of racing, the only formal reprimand that was issued was to Mark Wakefield for ‘Driving in a manner incompatible with general safety’, causing avoidable contact with car 7 in Race 1. Two penalty points have been recorded on his competitors licence.

The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Cup returns on 16th & 17th June at Deutsche Fest, Brands Hatch.

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