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By Andrea Hurcombe, Jun 19 2018 05:15PM

After another two warm-up laps, the Team-HARD. team mates lined up at the front of the grid with Dennis Strandberg taking his pole position, Toby Davis beside him in 2nd and Jamie Bond right behind in 3rd.

As the lights went out it was a charge to Paddock Hill Bend with Davis taking first place down the hill on the outside of Strandberg, who took the place back on the inside of Druids as Bond came round the outside to claim the place. As they went three abreast into Graham Hill Bend, Davis in the middle went sideways hitting Bond from behind, pushing him onto the grass which resulted in him falling back to 3rd. Strandberg was able to scamper away in the lead.

Matthew Evans and Paul Taylor had a coming together at Surtees, resulting in Evans’ race being over. Taylor then succumbed to the gravel at notorious Paddock Hill Bend, resulting in the Safety Car being deployed. With 12 minutes to go the race got back underway with Strandberg leading the way, Simon Walton in 2nd and Jamie Bond 3rd. Josh Coggan was having a great battle with Mark Wakefield, who was able to take the place as Coggan went wide. S Walton‘s car stopped on track just after Surtees but got going again, allowing Bond and Davis to pass him.

The Power Maxed drivers didn’t have a great time during the race. In lap 1 Russell Joyce and Tony Prendergast came together at turn 4. Prendergast was unable to continue the race. With damage to the car making it difficult to drive, Joyce ended up in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 8, resulting in another extended Safety Car period as they extracted the car. Under the Safety Car Tom Witts ran into new Team-HARD. driver Ashley Clements who spun off at Graham Hill Bend, but rejoined the race to finish in 15th place.

As the Safety Car period finally ended it was a one-lap shoot-out. Strandberg maintained his lead but the racing wasn’t finished behind him. Ruaridh Clark overtook Davis at Druids but went wide at Graham Hill bend, allowing Davis to re-take the place. Tom Walker made up a fantastic 9 places, going from 18th to 9th. Race 1 winner Chris Panayiotou finished in 5th place.

The final result: 1st Dennis Strandberg (Team HARD.) 2nd Jamie Bond (Team HARD.) 3rd Toby Davis (Team HARD.) The Hankook Trophy was awarded to Mark Wakefield (Team HARD.)

Race winner Strandberg said, "It wasn't much of a race with two extended safety car periods. I'm settling into the Team, the car is good but lacking a little bit of pace but we'll work on that. I'm very happy with the win."

Jamie Bond agreed, "That was the most boring race I've ever been in, following the safety car round. I had an interesting moment at Graham Hill Bend where I was hit from behind. I could have had the win but the safety car hindered us. The podium lockout is great for the Team. Race 1 was disappointing to be on the podium in 3rd for it to be taken away after a penalty. But 4th and 2nd in a weekend is good. Thank you to my excellent sponsors."

3rd place man Toby Davis said, "I had a good start and there was a little altercation between Dennis and Jamie at Druids where I saw an opportunity. Unfortunately I ended up sideways into Graham Hill Bend. With damage to the wheel I think the safety car probably benefited me as I may have had an issue with the tyres because of the damage. P18 to P5 in Race 1 was fantastic, which I was able to convert into a 3rd in Race 2 and back on the podium, where I belong".

*In Race 1 - Jamie Bond was issued with an 8.5 second penalty for 'driving in a manner incompatible with general safety' Ref C.1.1.5*

By Andrea Hurcombe, Jun 17 2018 02:50PM

After two warm-up laps the drivers formed the grid. With the red lights on, both the pole-sitter Ruaridh Clark and Panayiotou crept forward before the lights went out, eager to get going. Clark maintained the lead into the Paddock Hill Bend with Panayiotou close behind. Behind were Simon Walton and Jamie Bond battling for 4th and 5th place. Mark Steel had a spin at Graham Hill Bend, re-joining the track.

Panayiotou took the lead on lap 4 at Paddock Hill Bend with close contact between himself and Clark at Graham Hill Bend.

Across the start/finish straight Paul Taylor, Owen Walton and Tom Walker were three abreast and they continued to closely challenge each other for the duration of the race. Ethan Hammerton in 3rd place was being challenged by Bond who won out into Paddock Hill Bend.

With Taylor and O. Walton battling for position, Toby Davis was able to overtake Walton with Hammerton dropping to 5th place. The black and white flag was given to Car 12, Josh Coggan, for exceeding track limits. Matthew Evans slid into Graham Hill Bend, kicking up some dust. Dennis Strandberg was able to move up to 7th place.

With 6 minutes of the race to go, there was only 0.555 between to top two. Hammerton went off track at Graham Hill Bend, going straight on and through the gravel. Crawling along the grass, he was able to get the car back to the pits. The next car to take a trip into the gravel was Simon Walton, with Mark Steel taking another wide line into Graham Hill Bend. The Power Maxed cars of Taylor and Tom Witts took to the gravel down Hailwood Hill on the last lap of the race.

The final result saw Panayiotou (Maximum Motorsport) claim the top podium step with Ruaridh Clark (JWB Motorsport) 0.381 seconds behind in 2nd and Jamie Bond (Team HARD.) in 3rd. The Hankook Trophy was awarded to Josh Coggan.

*Post race amendment. 3rd - Simon Walton, 4th - Jamie Bond*

Panayiotou said, “I’m glad that we did 2 warm -up laps. I think it would have been mayhem if we’d only done one. I knew we had a good car, we didn’t change anything from qualifying. Ruaridh is quick and I knew I had to try and keep him behind me and it was going to be a close fight. He had the pace through Paddocks and Druids and I think Surtees and Clearways is where I felt I had the legs on him but he’s a fair racer. You love racing with people who are fair and if there is a clear opportunity you both want to get it.”

Clark said, “It was a bit frustrating as I really wanted that first win, but these things happen. To be fair to him, Chris did a really good race, but I was trying so hard. He drove such a good race, I take my hat off to him. He won it fair and square. Chris got the fastest lap, but I think it was by only half a tenth which is nothing. We will have ballast in the next race, so we will see what happens with that. I’m saving my champagne bottle for later!” (Ruaridh confessed that he’s never opened a bottle of champagne yet!)

The grid for Race 2 sees Dennis Strandberg (Team HARD.) on pole with his Team-mate Toby Davis behind him and Simon Walton (Slidesports) in 3rd.

By Andrea Hurcombe, Jun 17 2018 11:15AM

The early pace was set by Ruaridh Clark with Chris Panayiotou in 2nd place.

Matthew Evans was running in 19th place as he ended up in the gravel at the exit of Clearways. Double yellow flags were waved in order to snatch recover the car.

Simon Walton set the pole time of 52.023 with Panayiotou in 2nd with a time of 52.185

With 11 minutes to go, Ethan Hammerton set a 5th quickest time. The commentators believe that Hammerton is a name to look out for as he has a performed well in other championships prior to winning the Team HARD. Scholarship, with the prize being a season-long drive in VW Cup.

Panayiotou put in another flying lap time of 52.003 with S Walton only 6 thousandths of a seconds behind, with Jamie Bond in 3rd.

With 9 minutes to go Walton remained on pole with Hammerton 2nd and Panayiotou in 3rd. Dennis Strandberg, now driving for Team HARD. set a time of 52.469 in 7th place.

With 6 minutes to go, Clark again topped the timing sheet with a time of 51.726, the top 15 being within 1 second of each other.

Toby Davis' car was reported by a spectator to have a 'metal on metal’, grinding sound when changing gear as he entered the pit lane to be inspected. Davis was able to re-join the qualifying session but was only able to qualify in 18th place.

With just under 2 minutes of the session to go Bond went off at Druids, getting beached in the gravel. This bought out the red flags and ended the qualifying session.

The session ended with Ruaridh Clark (JWB Motorsport) on pole, Chris Panayiotou (Maximum Motorsport) in 2nd and Simon Walton (Slidesports) in 3rd.

By Andrea Hurcombe, Jun 14 2018 02:00PM

Team HARD. Racing are very proud and excited to announce that a deal has been agreed for Dennis Strandberg to switch to the Kent outfit as he continues his push for the 2018 VW Racing cup title.

The super swede was due to be sitting on the side-lines for this weekend’s rounds at Brands Hatch due to budget constraints but following recent discussions with team boss, Tony Gilham of Team HARD. we can now announce that Dennis will be able to continue his push for the title at the wheel of a VW Golf R Cup Car.

Tony said, “To be able to bring someone like Dennis in to the fold at this stage of the season with his pace, experience and current championship position was a no-brainer for us. We are a team that helps our drivers more than anyone else in Motorsport with our unique business strategy and network of associated companies, so we were able to put a package together that worked for all parties involved. We are defending VW Racing Cup champions and so it is very important for us to have the strongest line up possible. We are very much looking forward to working together and seeing what the future holds.”

Dennis added, “It’s great to be able to continue on what has been a strong start to the season and after a few days of discussions with Tony, we are now able to share our plans for Brands Hatch and hopefully beyond. We will be pushing as hard as possible for the title and this weekend we will be looking to achieve as many points as possible. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the team work and to work with my new team mates in a whole new light. I’ve seen the team grow over the years and so will now be able to see it from the inside and how we can work together moving forwards. This is a great opportunity for us both as we have the same ambitions.”

The VW Racing Cup continues this weekend 15th-17th June at Brands Hatch, Kent as part of the Deutsche Fest programme. Deutsche Fest is a celebration of arguably the greatest automotive nation, brought to you by MSV, owner of Brands Hatch. Deutsche Fest will be split into two very different German-themed days. Saturday will feature a track day, Heritage takeover displays, and evening entertainment. Sunday will bring a full race line-up, club displays, and Deutsche Fest Awards.

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.