Posted on In General
Renowned for the closeness of its racing regardless of race distance, the Fun Cup went beyond anyone’s expectations as a thrilling quartet battled it out Oulton Park for not only the race win but the Championship title too.
JPR UVio, Track Torque 2Rent Dominos and Team Trooper all vied for the title, they all led, but Team DespatchBay.com’s Andy Bicknell/Marcus Clutton secured their maiden victory from the 30 car field, as Farquini Deott/Graham Roberts’s retained the crown for JPR UVio.
DespatchBay.com drew pole out of the hat for the four hour charge. “We knew being Oulton Park it would be safety car special early on, so I started this time and was proven right,” said Bicknell.
With Agua Caliente’s Rob Perry and the JPR GT Radial car of Martin Gibson/Ellis Hadley colliding at Shell Hairpin on the opening lap, the safety car was out immediately and the Team Brit 2 car of Warren McKinley/Jamie Falvey/James Hill had also slowed at Lodge and pitted.
Track Focused’s Sean Cooper was into the pits too, “I started near the back and when we reached the collision at Shell it all stopped and Chris Hart’s 2Rent Dominos car gave me a tap. As I came passed the pits the team could see the rear bodywork on the tyre and called me in,” he explained.
Bicknell held the lead through the first safety car period before Tom Mills charged ahead on lap four for ECO 209, with Guy Wenham’s Team Lane Roofing car following
It was close at the front and after a second safety car Wenham made his move and ousted Mills just before the safety car was out again, after only 10 laps.
Bicknell was still running a strong third, but after a fantastic start Team Viking’s Mark Holme was in trouble. “He was briefly in second but had a brake problem, locked up at Shell and was straight in the gravel and was there for three laps,” said team mate Nick Nunn.
Team Honeywell’s Tim Wheeldon moved up to fourth, despite having had early contact with Wenham at Brittens, which affected his steering. Team 7 Racing’s Rory Brown was fifth and the Fun Cup Academy car of the Bridle twins and Chris Dovell was sixth.
Both Nigel Greensall (CCS Media) and Deott made progress during the three safety car interventions. “I got a good start and managed to get a run in between each safety car,” said Deott, who managed to take, Wheeldon, Greensall, Brown and Bicknell all in one lap to hold third from lap 14.
Deott’s charge continued picking off Mills and Wenham on the next two laps, before being a late stopper as he handed to Roberts.
Bicknell had pitted early and when all the changes were completed it was DespatchBay.com’s Clutton ahead, from ECO 209’s Paul Turner, 2Rent Dominos Henry Dawes and Roberts.
At the first hour Clutton had pulled out a 3.338 secs lead over Turner, but the ECO man lost out to both Dawes and Roberts a couple of laps later. “I was trying to stick with Marcus in second, but the power started to fall away and Reidy got me too,” Turner explained.
With Anthony Reid bringing Team Trooper into the frame, the title contenders were in second, third and fourth, but Clutton had them all in his wake.
As the safety car appeared again to coincide with the second hour, most of the leaders came in together. After Clutton had handed back to Bicknell, Dawes had a spell in front. He had only 0.5 secs advantage at two hours from JPR UVio, while DespatchBay.com were down to third, from Team Trooper, with Sherardize’s Peter Belshaw/Phil Keen fifth and Racelogic sixth with Julian Thomas/Jon Tomlinson/David Denyer.
The Team Roofing Evolution car of Chris Weatherill/Rob Croydon had also closed in too, running inches from the rear of Racelogic. But a lack of brakes brought contact and Croydon spun out
Out of the running however were a number of early frontrunners. Paul Abraham’s ECO 209 had stopped on track with a flat battery, and after Ciro Carannante had kept CCS in contention, Bob Tomlinson was stuck in gear and his engine cut out. Team Lane Roofing had hit trouble too and dropped to last place.
With the main protagonists at the head of the field, the intensity continued to grow. Clutton and Keen traded fastest laps and with DespatchBay.com back at the head after three hours, 2Rent Dominos, JPR UVio and Team Trooper followed in formation.
Sherardize’s hopes had been dashed though, “a bolt came out of the rear upright halfway through my stint. We had a few other dramas too, but had wanted to beat Marcus really,” said Keen.
Racelogic had moved up to fifth with the Jones families MCAC Racing car sixth. In seventh Track Focused continued a duel with Team Honeywell that had raged for most of the race, while Amber 1 Team 7 Fun Cup Academy went into the final hour ninth, with JPR on the Piste’s Mark Burton/Dominic Jackson/Steve Harris 10th.
All of the top 10 were still on the lead lap, UVio’s Deott had a couple of swaps with Team Trooper’s Harry Mailer, which allowed 2Rent Dominos Hart a break to chase Bicknell’s lead. But Mailer then caught and demoted Hart too, while behind them MCAC duelled for sixth, allowing Racelogic to consolidate fifth, while Tim Wheeldon brought Team Honeywell closer to them both.
Bicknell managed to fight off all the pressure until lap 78 when Mailer got him out of Old Hall, which then left Deott challenging for second, after he had retaken Hart. He got through into Druids, but then came the final pitstop window.
DespatchBay.com were first in and then 2Rent Dominos with a very quick change, while Team Trooper and UVio were the final stoppers.
Jake Rattenbury led for Team Trooper, but had Roberts pressing hard. They went side by side and had a touch, which all allowed Dawes and Clutton to close.
Through Knickerbrook for the 93th time all four leaders were in line, but a lap later Roberts was through, only to lose out to Dawes again briefly. Clutton had already made third and in consecutive laps went into second and then led and started to open a gap. “I got the lead and then fell off myself at Druids. I knew the others need to win for the title, so I let Marcus go,” Roberts explained.
It was a well-deserved win for DespatchBay.com. “My job was to hold station and stay as close to the lead pack as I could and I did it all race, brilliant,” said Bicknell. “We had enough of our own problems, bump starting from every stop and the clutch in qualifying. But I got some impossible lap times and the steering wheel was coming off at the end,” Bicknell added.
Roberts’ tactical approach meant sacrificing victory but the reward was a second successive title. “Of course I would have liked to win, but the title was more important,” he said. “Probably the best Fun Cup race ever, as we seemed to be running so close together for the whole race and Graham did such a great job,” Deott added.
For 2Rent Dominos Hart/Dawes it was third and the runner-up spot in the championship again. “We were all winners and champions at some point. We had to change the rears in the long stop, but a fantastic race,” said Hart.
Rattenbury had flown in from Oulton Park for his stint, “I made a mistake and lost the tow, so couldn’t get back. Leading up to then was probably the worst place to be,” he admitted as Team Trooper took third in the championship and fourth in the race.
Jon Tomlinson brought Racelogic home fifth, “we ran reliably all day, no mistakes and we finished about right I think,” added team mate Thomas.
Track Focused finally saw off Honeywell for sixth. “I think both Neil Smith and Mike McCollum had fights with Neil and Tim too. I finally got Neil into Cascades and went ahead into Island,” said Cooper.
Although Plimmer came in seventh, he survived an earlier drama. “I had been chasing Racelogic for fifth, right under their wing and didn’t tap my brakes, so when I hit it, it was pedal to the floor into Shell. I thought it was going to hurt but I managed to spin onto the grass and sideways up the bank. The engine stalled and I was left facing traffic, but got away with it,” he explained.
Despite a late black flag MCAC were eighth, with Track Focused 2’s Clint Bardwell/Dean Warriner and JPR on the Piste completing the top 10.
1 DespatchBay.com (Andy Bicknell/Marcus Clutton) 102 laps in 4h00m20.088s (68.55mph); 2 JPR Uvio (Farquini Deott/Graham Roberts) +1.057s; 3 Track Torque 2Rent Dominos (Chris Hart/Henry Dawes); 4 Team Trooper Iron Maiden (Harry Mailer/Anthony Reid/Jake Rattenbury); 5 Racelogic (Julian Thomas/Jon Tomlinson/David Denyer); 6 Track Focused (Sean Cooper/Neil Smith/Mike McCollum); 7 Team Honeywell (Neil Plimmer/Tim Wheeldon); 8 MCAC Racing (Matthew Jones/Philip Jones/Gareth Jones); 9 Track Focused 2 (Clint Bardwell/Dean Warriner); 10 JPR on the Piste (Mark Burton/Dominic Jackson/Steve Harris). Fastest lap: Clutton 2m00.470s (80.44mph).