The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup has always been one of the most popular one makes series in the country and yet again a competitive line up of Golfs, Polos and Sciroccos were ready to do battle on some of the country’s best racing circuits. This time though the grid would see a shake-up in 2017 in terms of machinery as two impressive Audi TTs from the VAG brand were entered by SwanFlight for Simon and Owen Walton to challenge for the title. In a series which normally sees the fight for outright wins swapped between the Golf and Scirocco, the addition of the Polo in 2016 has made this an exciting championship and one certainly to follow, alongside the British GT.
For 2017, the opening two rounds at Oulton Park and Rockingham had seen close, competitive racing that the championship is famous for and the regulars dicing for the wins. As the championship approached Snetterton for round three, Tom Witts was the driver with the target on his back as series leader. The Maximum Motorsport Scirocco driver held a 10-point advantage over the 2016 champion Phil House, after securing a second and a win at the previous round. Experience can be crucial in this series and Phil has plenty as a double champion, so at this early stage being in the title hunt was positive. Lying third behind House was the Golf of Team HARD’s Jamie Bond, who was leading the attack of the Golfs vs Sciroccos on 140 points, as Bond was the only Golf driver in the top six of the standings, ahead of the Sciroccos of Kieran Gordon (128 Pts), Darelle Wilson (104 Pts) and Paul Ivens (100 Pts). The highest place Audi in the standings was Simon Walton in eighth, showing the strength of the TT against the VWs. With plenty of race winners in the field, the chances of predicting a winner is tough and therefore the two races at Snetterton would likely be very entertaining. The potentially spanner in the works of many at Snetterton was the last-minute entry of British Touring Car campaigner Josh Cook, who would drive a Golf in the two races for his BTCC team Maximum Motorsport.
Team HARD to beat at Snetterton
Sunday morning saw the VW Cup drivers start the day with a twenty-minute qualifying session and with 24 cars on track, finding track space to get in a quick time was crucial. The warm temperatures easily allowed the drivers to get heat into the tyres and first to top the times was double champion Phil House, in the No.1 Scirocco. As House looked to push on, Rockingham race one winner Bobby Thompson set the target time and opened up a gap of over 1 second, with team mate Jamie Bond lying second and provisionally a lock out for Team HARD. As others struggled to get anywhere near Thompson’s time, fourth in the standings Kieran Gordon went second, putting his Scirocco alongside Thompson’s Golf on the front row.
In the second half of the session, the early pacesetter to challenge Thompson was Snetterton VAG Trophy winner Ben Wallace, going second before dropping to third within minutes when Jamie Bond pulled out a sensational time to grabbed pole position. With ballast taking its toll on a lot of the drivers, including championship leader Tom Witts, Bobby Thompson showed his talents behind the wheel of the Golf with no weight, going quicker in two sectors to grab pole back with a time of 2:05.656s. As the chequered flag fell, no times were to improve on the final lap, giving Team HARD a lock out of the front row for race one, with Thompson’s and Bond’s Golf ahead of the Scirocco of Kieran Gordon third and Ben Wallace in fourth. On row three of the grid would see championship contenders Phil House and Tom Witts, just under a second slower than Thompson’s pole time. In terms of BTCC competitor Josh Cook, he was suffering problems in his Maximum Motorsport Golf and would end up 22nd, four and a half seconds slower than top spot. With problems continuing, this was the only time we saw Cook out on track as he withdrew from the event and wouldn’t take part in race one or two.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Snetterton – Qualifying:
- Bobby Thompson (No.19 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = 2:05.656s
- Jamie Bond (No.56 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = +0.305s
- Kieran Gordon (No.36 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +0.318s
- Ben Wallace (No.88 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = +0.559s
- Phil House (No.1 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +0.666s
Lights to Flag but done the HARD Way
The opening race on Sunday got underway just before 11o clock and with Team HARD locking out the front row, it was interesting what would happen between the team mates into turn one. As both Thompson and Bond got away well, it was a lightening starts from row three that saw Phil House and Tom Witts challenge for the lead, with the former champion getting the better of the rest to sit second. As Jamie Bond remained third ahead of Witts, both from row two slipped back as Kieran Gordon looked to regain a position on the run down the Bentley Straight and was ahead exiting Brundle/Nelson corners. The front five/six were running wheel to wheel on the opening lap and the lead swapped a couple of times, as Jamie Bond ended lap one at the front of pack after taking the lead entering the final corner.
After a few laps went by, the front lot broke up into mini fights, as Tom Witts and Phil House swapped positions for fourth, with Kieran Gordon trying to break away, as team mates Thompson and Bond had no team order and fort extremely hard to outdo one another. The battle exploded between the two a few times at the end of the Bentley straight, as both tried to out-brake one another. The result of the passing attempts was either Thompson or Bond cutting the grass and re-joining ahead of the other. Due to the numerous off-track incidents for Bond, the stewards handed out a five second penalty for exceeding track limits to the Team HARD driver, which was also handed to Kieran Gordon, Jack Walker Tulley and Kenan Dole.
Speaking off Jack Walker Tulley, the championship returnee had moved up the order throughout the race and in the Maximum Motorsport Scirocco was challenging team mate Tom Witts. On lap six, Walker Tulley pushed hard, finding a way past at Coram and up into fifth position. With Phil House comfortably ahead in fourth, Walker Tulley had to settle for fifth and couldn’t close the gap down before the chequered flag, whilst House was too far back to take third off Kieran Gordon.
Back out front, Thompson tried one last attempt to pass Jamie Bond on the final lap but was unsuccessful, as Bond took the win. With the penalties applied, Thompson inherited the win and Phil House was lifted from fourth to second, ahead of Jamie Bond and Kieran Gordon. Tom Witts regained fifth as of Jack Walker Tulley being dropped to sixth after the penalty.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Snetterton – Race One:
- Bobby Thompson (No.19 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = 10 Laps = 21:23.287s
- Phil House (No.1 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +2.516s
- Jamie Bond (No.56 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = +4.794s
- Kieran Gordon (No.36 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +5.395s
- Tom Witts (No.2 – VW Scirocco – Maximum Motorsport) = +9.873s
Three wins from Three Events
The second and final race of the weekend for the VW Cup would see a reverse grid from race one results determine the grid and therefore Maximum Motorsport locked out the front row with Jack Walker-Tully on pole, alongside Championship leader and a fast starter, Tom Witts. In a similar scenario as race 1, it was going to be interesting on how the team mates played the start and when lights went out, the two were nearly rubbing paintwork. It was Witts who forced the move into the first corner, going around the outside of Walker Tulley and leading on the run up to the Wilson hairpin. Once ahead, Witts gapped the opposition and left Walker Tulley to defend off Kieran Gordon. On the run around Coram, Gordon’s pressure paid off as the JWB Scirocco moved ahead in second. After losing second, Walker Tulley suffered drama moments later as the bonnet on his Scirocco broke clear and collided with the front end of Simon Walton’s Audi TT. In the midst of the drama, Walker Tulley remained third ahead of Tom Walker and Phil House, as fourth and fifth changed position on the following lap.
Race one winner Bobby Thompson was the driver on the move though throughout the race after starting down the field due to the reverse grid. Lapping the field quicker than anyone else, laps seven and eight saw Thompson pull off the most passes, demoting Darelle Wilson’s diesel Scirocco first, then Tom Walker and then Phil House. Thompson was still on a charge on the final lap and targeting a podium finish. Thompson closed on the rear of Walker Tulley along the Senna straight and secured third into Riches corner. Once ahead, the gap between Thompson and Gordon decreased rapidly and by the time they reached Agostini corner, Thompson dived past to take second.
After ten laps of racing, the chequered flag was waved and Tom Witts kept up his record of taking one win at a circuit in 2017, add to his tally to have three wins from six races. The win for the Maximum Motorsport driver extended his championship lead over Phil House to 14 points, as the series headed to Brands Hatch on the 6th August for their first of two visits, one in support of the British GT and the other headlining the first German Deutsche Festival on 19th and 20th August. Lying third in the standings would now be Jamie Bond on 210 points, whilst Kieran Gordon is fourth only eight back. Bobby Thompson made the most progress at Snetterton and now is fifth in the championship on 176 points, 66 points behind championship leader Witts.
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Snetterton – Race One:
- Tom Witts (No.2 – VW Scirocco – Maximum Motorsport) = 10 Laps = 21:27.569s
- Bobby Thompson (No.19 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = +1.566s
- Kieran Gordon (No.36 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +2.165s
- Jack Walker Tulley (No.99 – VW Scirocco – Maximum Motorsport) = +2.535s
- Phil House (No.1 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = +4.138s
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup Championship Standings:
- Tom Witts (No.2 – VW Scirocco – Maximum Motorsport) = 242 Pts.
- Phil House (No.1 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = 228 Pts.
- Jamie Bond (No.56 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = 210 Pts.
- Kieran Gordon (No.36 – VW Scirocco – JWBird Motorsport) = 202 Pts.
- Bobby Thompson (No.19 – VW Golf – Team HARD) = 176 Pts.
For more information on the VW Cup, please visit http://www.vwracingcup.co.uk
To see our full photo album from the VW Cup at Snetterton, including action from the sister championship, the VAG Trophy, please click here.
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.