By karlbowdrey, May 1 2018 02:19PM
Rounds 3 and 4 of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup took place at Rockingham Motor Speedway this weekend (28th and 29th April).
With multitude of drivers exchanging the lead over the course of the 15-minute qualifying session, Chris Panayiotou took the early lead but it was very short lived with Martin Depper and Jamie Bond both jumping ahead just moments later, however on lap 3 Panayiotou managed to perfect a lap on the very wet track going top once again.
Russell Joyce and James Coggan both started the session late but it was Tom Walker who then fancied upsetting the party at the top of the timing screens, improving by 9 places to jump into 3rd position whilst further down the field it was Tim Docker who was also impressing posting faster and faster times each lap.
Championship contender Toby Davis managed to temporarily go top on lap 4 however it was Panayiotou who returned to 1st position just moments later but his time at the top was short-lived yet again as Depper, Bond and Davis all exchanged the lead before ultimately it was Bond who came out on top at the chequered flag.
As the lights went out on the opening round of the weekend all the cars made a clean start from the line but the drama was just about to unfold. Side on contact between Ruaridh Clark and Josh Coggan sent Clark into a spin resulting in heavy contact with the concrete wall on the outside of the circuit. Clark did walk away from the incident; however a long delay in excess of 15-minutes forced a re-grid and a new race start.
For the 2nd time it was Depper who made a great start off the line along with Owen Walton and by the end of the opening turn, Depper had taken the lead. Bond made a critical mistake running wide, clipping the grass sending the Team-Hard golf spinning and dropping him down the leaderboard.
As the pack emerged over the line there was a 5-way fight for the lead. Depper, Davis, Panyitou, Paul Taylor and Ethan Hammerton all nose to tail fighting the potential lead but it was Panayiotou who ultimately made the first move of the pack squeezing passing Davis.
The remainder of the field was now starting to spread out and with 10 minutes remaining the front 5 remained unchanged however Depper managed to out-brake himself entering turn 2, clipping the grass sending his bight green Scirocco off the track handing the race lead over to Panayiotou with Davis, Taylor and Hammerton following close behind.
Bond was fighting his way back from his earlier spin and had made it back up to 5th. Dennis Strandberg was finding the weekend's conditions difficult and was struggling to make the move in his Scirocco down in 7th place.
With Panayiotou now leading the race by over 1.8s, Hammerton managed to pass Taylor promoting him to 3rd with only 0.588s separating Davis, Hammerton and Taylor there was now a 4-way battle to secure the podium positions. Disaster struck, as the race was drawing to a close Panayiotou found himself losing time as his front bumper has dislodged and was caught under his wheels posing a serious problem for the current race leader with his time gap dropping and Davis now closing in fast.
Davis now has Panayiotou in his sights and as they entered turn 2, Davis darted up the inside of Panayiotou to steal the race lead and with clear air ahead Davis made the most of the opportunity and started to pull away.
As the chequered flag was deployed it was ultimately Davis who crossed the line first ahead of Panyitou and Hammerton.
The top ten was rounded out by Taylor, Bond, Wakefield, Strandberg, Walker, Depper and Coggan.
Race 2 of the weekend would feature a top 6 reverse gird meaning Mark Wakefield was starting on pole with Bond, Taylor, Hammerton, Panyitou and Davis lining up behind him on the starting grid.
As the lights went out for the final time of the weekend it was Tom Witts who was finding his feet in the Power Maxed Racing Volkswagen Polo over the weekend. With the whole grid making it safely around the opening corners it was Joyce who loses the back end of his Volkswagen Golf sending him spinning whilst Taylor ran wide at Tarzan clipping the gravel.
Bond had made some impressive progress over the opening lap and as they crossed the line for the 1st time it was Bond who leads from Davis and Panayioto. Wakefield was impressing during the opening laps of the race diving up the inside at turn 2 to take 2 positions, promoting himself to 4th on the leader board.
With Bond now ahead by just over 2 seconds it looked like he was just getting comfortable, however, Simon Walton ran wide on to the kerb sending his Audi TT whipping across the track making heavy contact with the Armco. The TT came to a stop on the grass as there was oil sprayed all over the track during the impact. With the track now branded an ice rink, Simon Tomlinson firstly lost control, then Joyce but they managed to hold and rejoin the track before 5 cars succumbed to the oily track conditions ended up in the gravel. With the Red Flag immediately being deployed for the 2nd time during the weekend, Bond, Owen Walton, Callum Jenkins, Tony Prendergast and Hammerton were all left stranded and unable to move under their own steam when the red flag was deployed.
With a large track cleanup now in operation the decision was made for a 9-minute restart once the barrier repairs had been completed.
16-drivers took to the restart and with the lights went out for the final time of the weekend the pack emerged for the first time around turn 1 where there was contact between Strandberg and Davis resulting in Davis spinning, dropping down the leader board to the back of the pack.
With Davis now being a man on a mission attempting to keep a cool head it was Depper who managed to squeeze his way in to the lead and with the clear track in front kept his head down creating some air between himself and Strandberg.
Wakefield was pushing harder but in the dying stages of the race ran wide allowing Panayitou and Strandberg through before he sent himself spinning ending his race.
With the chequered flag being deployed for the final time it was Depper who dominated the race taking his first win of the season with Panyitou and Strandberg following over 4s behind.
Tim Docker secured his best finish of the 2018 campaign and took the Hankook trophy in doing so whilst Simon Tomlinson secured the VAG win for the 2nd time over the weekend.
The drama however did not end there. Strandberg was excluded from race for the contact with Davis on lap 1 meaning Davis was promoted to the podium taking 3rd position.
The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup returns for rounds 5 & 6 at Snetterton in just under 4 weeks time over the weekend of May 26th – 27th.