The penultimate round of the 2014 Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup at Brands Hatch on the 30th and 31st August looked set to produce a thrilling finale for Donington Park in mid-September, as three drivers entered Kent separated by just twelve points. Leading the way with two wins under his belt already was JWB Motorsport rookie, Stefan Di Resta, who had come into the VW Cup this year with very limited racing experience. The younger brother of EX F1 driver and former DTM Champion, Paul, has excelled in the JWB Motorsport prepared Scirocco, ever since his debut win at Snetterton in June. Sitting on a total of 312 points, Stefan is closely chased though by a two-time former champion, in the Golf GTI. The 2008 and 2009 Champion Joe Fulbrook has been chasing down the younger Di Resta and came into the Brands Hatch meeting only two points back from the Scotsman’s Scirocco. After switching from his trusted VW Bora to a Golf GTI in 2013, it had taken Joe some time to climb back onto the podium, but in 2014, his ability and pace has outweighed the favourable VW Scirocco. With two wins to his name also this year, experience over Stefan Di Resta could be the key to a third VW title, but both drivers will have to be careful of Cambridgeshire rookie, Lucas Orrock. After making the step into the VW Cup from Karting at the start of 2014, Orrock has been pretty quick in the KPM Racing Scirocco and ended up securing his first win overseas at Spa. Add this to the podium at Silverstone and with plenty of top five finishes, he has made himself a championship contender with four races remaining. With twelve points to make up on Di Resta, Orrock would be hunting for race wins, but annoyingly for the three drivers, one driver was waiting in the background and mathematically had a chance of the title. Reigning champion Aaron Mason had been the driver to beat at the start of 2014, taking multiple wins at Oulton, Rockingham and Silverstone, which handed him the championship lead. Since then however his formed had dipped, with only two second places at Snetterton and then no podium at Spa, he had fallen to fourth in the standings and twenty-eight points adrift from Di Resta.
With a lot of focus going to be on the four who are in a fight for the championship, the grid of thirty had plenty of potential race winners, some who had already secured a win in 2014 or a previous champion. One of these was Rockingham race winner James Greenway, who took a win for AWM/Warranty Direct in the Scirocco R, since a switch from the BRDC Formula 4 championship. In terms of the previous champion, James Walker had been having a mixed season in the Milltek Sport backed Golf GTI, since his return to series after taking the crown in 2012. Drivers listed as one to watch at Brands Hatch who weren’t championship front runners alongside Greenway and Walker was former bike racer Josh Caygill in the Scirocco, former championship contender Stewart Lines (Maximum Motorsport Scirocco) and Spa podium finisher David Sutton (SlideSports Scirocco). With races over twenty minutes and such a large grid taking to the Brands Hatch GP circuit, you could expect there would be plenty of overtaking and lots of drama, making the penultimate round of the season one that shouldn’t be forgot.
Sutton Uses Safety Car to Perfection for First VW Victory
After securing pole position on Saturday morning in the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, everything nearly went downhill in the opening race of the weekend for David Sutton, before the lights had even gone out. Holding position alongside Team HARD’s Howard Fuller, in the Golf GTI, David slipped the brake and started creeping. Knowing this would result in a penalty; Sutton halted his start and was nearly left by the rest of the field when the green light came on. Losing the lead into Paddock Hill Bend to the plain white GTI of Fuller, Sutton slotted into second, just ahead of the Sciroccos of Jack Walker-Tully and Stefan Di Resta. The front four remained very close on the opening lap of the Brands Hatch GP circuit, before David Sutton went for the lead along the Brabham Straight. As the SlideSports Scirocco regained top spot, the second Scirocco in the queue, of Jack Walker-Tully, dived for second on Howard Fuller. With the slightest of contact made, the Team HARD Golf GTI went into a wild slide, whilst Walker-Tully recovered to take second, ahead of Stefan Di Resta and James Greenway, before dropping behind the two a bit further on in the lap. For Fuller, the slide down to Hailwoods Hill saw him recover from the grass in twelfth and certainly out of podium contention, in a twenty minute race.
Before things got even more dramatic at the front of the pack, the second lap was slowed by the deployment of the safety car. In a field of thirty-one there was always a possibility of drama around Brands Hatch and this happened towards the rear of the field. For some of the competitors, their race unfortunately ended before lap one was finished, with an off at Clark Curve. After fighting mid pack from row ten of the grid, it was championship newcomer and JCW MINI Challenge front runner Chris Knox that was involved in a tangle. Making the transition from the JCW MINI to the VW Golf GTI Mk.VI with THM Racing had so far been a difficult one for Knox and it was a shame to see his first race end after contact with Paul Dehadray, in the JWB Scirocco. As Dehadray continued on but retired on lap two with severe damage, Knox’s Golf had to be recovered, alongside Craig Mason’s AWM Warranty Direct backed Golf GTI Mk.V, which got involved by spinning to avoid the incident and being beached in the gravel trap.
With three laps taken away behind the safety car, the race resumed at lap five with Sutton blasting away from the rest of the field to recover his first ever win in the series by a margin of nearly 0.8 seconds. With Stefan Di Resta trailing in second on the restart, the championship leader came under massive pressure from James Greenway and ended up giving the position away by lap seven. As Greenway looked to break away, he was then chased pretty hard by a recovering Jack Walker-Tully, who was looking to make amends from the incident with Howard Fuller. After rejecting Stefan Di Resta to fourth on lap seven, he came to within 0.2 seconds of Greenway’s Scirocco and set up a thrilling final battle over the final few laps. Whilst Greenway looked set to remain in second, Walker-Tully dived down the inside at Surtees on the penultimate lap and held on at the flag by 0.527 seconds.
Behind the podium places, Stefan Di Resta finished fourth, just ahead of a chasing Lucas Orrock, meaning two of the championship challengers finished together. For Orrock, he had qualified in tenth and drove brilliantly after the safety car to move up the order. In the closing stages, the Cambridgeshire driver had reeled in his Scirocco rival, but settled for the position instead of risking a move and a DNF. To make things interesting in terms of the championship fight, was the fact that former champion and main challenger in 2014 Joe Fulbrook came home in sixth, meant all three were together and set up an exciting race two reversed grid. Joe’s race had been up and down, as contact on the opening lap dropped him down the order to eighth, but a fantastic recovery saw him overcome previous rival and team mate Aaron Mason (eighth) and then newcomer Darrelle Wilson (seventh), who was making his debut in the turbo-diesel Team HARD Golf GTI. Completing the top ten in race one at Brands Hatch was the PH Motorsport Scirocco of former champion Philip House and lastly Stewart Lines in the Maximum Motorsport Scirocco, who unfortunately had to use his spare car after mechanical issues in testing on Friday.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Brands Hatch – Race One – Top Ten:
- David Sutton (6 – SlideSports – Scirocco R) = 11 Laps = 21:30.583
- Jack Walker-Tully (99 – Cooke & Mason – Scirocco R) = +0.784s
- James Greenway (37 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = +1.311s
- Stefan Di Resta (27 – JWB Motorsport – Scirocco R) = +3.791s
- Lucas Orrock (33 – KPM Racing – Scirocco R) = +4.086s
- Joe Fulbrook (13 – AWM Warranty Direct – Golf GTI Mk.V) = +5.385s
- Darrelle Wilson (50 – Team HARD – Golf GTI TDI) = +8.494s
- Aaron Mason (8 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = +8.604s
- Philip House (5 – PH Motorsport – Scirocco R) = +12.393s
- Stewart Lines (4 – Maximum Motorsport – Scirocco R) = +13.903s
Sutton Holds On to Record a Brands VW Double
Starting on the third row of the grid for race two, David Sutton would have some work to do to record a double, with some super talent in front of him, all gunning for the race win. When the lights went green, the race one winner got a fantastic start and moved up the order as the field entered Paddock Hill Bend. Whilst Lucas Orrock snatched the lead in the KPM Racing Scirocco, championship rival Joe Fulbrook was under pressure from Sutton. As Sutton forced Fulbrook wide, James Greenway became an incident victim and took a ride through the gravel, as well as Aaron Mason. The drama into paddock hill bend though was nothing as serious as what happened moments later into druids, with Darrelle Wilson’s Golf TDI being heavily collected by Jack Walker-Tully. The severely damaged Golf was narrowly avoided by the rest of the field, as it lay on the entrance to the Druids hairpin. In order for it to be removed, the safety car was deployed as the JCB came onto the track and pulled the wreckage to one side.
On the restart, Lucas Orrock inadvertently misjudged his getaway, allowing David Sutton to get a perfect run on the KPM Racing Scirocco into Paddock Hill Bend and take the lead, which he progressed into a comfortable margin. As the rest of the field got back to racing, Championship leader Stefan Di Resta started to struggle, due to the effects of a broken steering. This saw him lose ground to his rivals, with Howard Fuller being the first to pass the young Scotsman, after starting fourteenth. As Fuller moved forward, Di Resta fell backwards, ending the race down in fourteenth and losing huge ground in the championship.
For Howard Fuller, he was running brilliantly in the Team HARD Golf GTI, moving past Stewart Lines and Joe Fulbrook within a few laps, before diving for second on lap six down the Cooper Straight and setting his sights on David Sutton. The Team HARD driver was lapping faster than anyone around the Grand Prix circuit and towards the end of the twenty minutes, caught the SlideSports Scirocco. With David Sutton finding it hard to defend off the Golf, Fuller made his attack for the lead on the penultimate lap at Surtees, only to lose it moments later on the exit and hand the lead back to Sutton. The momentum of running wide handed Orrock second and moved Fulbrook back into third position.
Within the last few laps of the race, there had been a massive shuffle within the top ten, as James Walker had moved up the order in the Milltek Sport Golf GTI Mk.VI, whilst James Greenway had recovered from the gravel trap moment to move to eighth. As the front six remained close during the final few moments of the race, the final three drivers in that group were involved in a last corner melee. With Howard Fuller running fourth, the Golf headed for the flag, only to lose control at Clark Curve. With Fuller trying to recover, he ended up collecting James Walker’s Golf and fired into the pit wall. The incident allowed reigning champion Aaron Mason to slip past both on the run to the line and record a fourth place finish. James Walker recovered to take fifth, with Stewart Lines coming home in sixth and Tom Barley taking a strong seventh for Team HARD. With Greenway finishing eighth, his team mate Josh Caygill followed home in ninth, just ahead of George White’s Scirocco.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Brands Hatch – Race Two – Top Ten:
- David Sutton (6 – SlideSports – Scirocco R) = 12 Laps = 21:09.011
- Lucas Orrock (33 – KPM Racing – Scirocco R) = +0.487s
- Joe Fulbrook (13 – AWM Warranty Direct – Golf GTI Mk.V) = +0.783s
- Aaron Mason (8 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = +2.606s
- James Walker (16 – Milltek Sport – Golf GTI Mk.VI) = +3.053s
- Stewart Lines (4 – Maximum Motorsport – Scirocco R) = +11.933s
- Tom Barley (47 – Team Hard – Golf GTI Mk.V ) = +12.258s
- James Greenway (37 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = +14.136s
- Josh Caygill (14 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = +18.551s
- George White (77 – KPM Racing – Scirocco R) = +24.812s
With Sutton never being a race winner in the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, his two wins at Brands Hatch entered him into the 2014 history books, as the first double winner of the season, at a crucial time. As two rounds remain in 2014 at Donington Park on the 13th and 14th September, Sutton had brought himself into the championship fight, forty-four points behind new leader Joe Fulbrook. For the finale, there would now be five drivers in contention for the title, as the overall points on offer is ninety-four, made quite exciting with forty-four available for the race win. As Fulbrook leads the way on 380 points heading to Leicestershire, the new challenger for second is Lucas Orrock, who with Fulbrook rejected Di Resta to third in the standings. With six points separating Fulbrook and Orrock, the gap of sixteen easily kept title hopes alive for Stefan Di Resta. The driver who had surely moved closer to the title again was Aaron Mason, who after some nightmare rounds collected a decent amount of points at Brands and was back in the hunt to regain his crown, thirty-points adrift of his team mate. The double wins for Sutton makes him a massive title challenger with momentum on his side for Donington Park, as just one win would level him with Fulbrook, if the Golf GTI driver picks up a DNF. This surely set ups an epic finale to a great championship, full of potential race winners and podium contenders.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup – Provisional Championship Standings – After 12 Rounds.
- Joe Fulbrook (13 – AWM Warranty Direct – Golf GTI Mk.V) = 380 Pts.
- Lucas Orrock (33 – KPM Racing – Scirocco R) = 374 Pts.
- Stefan Di Resta (27 – JWB Motorsport – Scirocco R) = 364 Pts.
- Aaron Mason (8 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = 348 Pts.
- David Sutton (6 – SlideSports – Scirocco R) = 336 Pts.
- Josh Caygill (14 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = 274 Pts.
- James Greenway (37 – AWM Warranty Direct – Scirocco R) = 272 Pts.
- Stewart Lines (4 – Maximum Motorsport – Scirocco R) = 266 Pts.
- James Walker (16 – Milltek Sport – Golf GTI Mk.VI) = 246 Pts.
- Sam Morgan (41 – KPM Racing – Golf GTI Mk.VI) = 232 Pts.
For more photos from the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup at Brands Hatch, please check out our Flickr Page here.
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs for www.collierhousehold.co.uk