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Farquini Deott and Graham Roberts managed to take victory in the third round of the Fun Cup at Snetterton, despite twice losing a comfortable lead through safety car interventions, a drive through penalty and weather that varied between hot and humid and rains of biblical proportions.
As usual it was all action as soon as the lights went out, with Harry Mailer leading into Brundle on the opening lap for Apollo Motorsport, from MCAC’s Gareth Jones, Geoff Fawcett (Team Lane Roofing Evo) and Nigel Greensall (CCS Media), while Deott fell back after a grassy moment at Nelson.
Jones began to fall back as Fawcett had second into Brundle on lap two, but with Greensall third into Riches a lap later, his charge continued with second at the same spot on lap four.
The safety car was called into action when Paul Wighton’s fuel pump failed and from the green flag Greensall grabbed the lead when Mailer outbraked himself into Montreal. Fawcett was still in third but Deott’s recovery gave him fourth into Agostini’s at the expense of Tom Mills Eco Racing 209.
Deott ousted Fawcett a lap later and Global Racing’s Scott Mansell took Mills, but was still on a roll taking both Mailer and Greensall on consecutive laps into Riches, before Greensall almost slid off on coolant at Murrays, spilled when Sherardize’s Peter Belshaw hit Chris Hart when the Track Torque 2 rent Dominos car cut out.
But Deott went wide and Mailer led again for a couple of laps, before a second safety car period saw Mansell lead from the green flag until Deott surged by with 20 laps gone.
The rain started to fall as the first pit stop window approached, but after the first hour CCS Media led from Global Racing, after Mailer slid off at Agostini’s, JPR Uvio and the Apollo crews, with Kinetix sixth. “I had gone off in the rain, but been happy running with Mailer and Greensall rather than a long line and then it was like wacky races,” said Deott.
“Apart from sliding off, no real drama’s and the rain was great,” reckoned Greensall. “We had a good restart after the second safety car and I maximised my experience in the rain, adjusted and got tidier,” Mansell added. “I had a good start but there was no grip when it rained and I had been hit at 90 degrees by Greensall and it cracked the chassis,” Mailer explained as they lost a mass of time welding back the chassis.
Racelogic were also in trouble when they were penalised a lap when Julian Thomas missed the pit window after climbing to seventh.
With Deott completing a double stint before handing to Roberts, Uvio were over 16 seconds up after two hours, with James Littlejohn having flown for DespatchBay.com into second, from CCS Media, while Neil Plimmer and Tim Wheeldon had found the pace of Team Honeywell’s new engine to move to fourth, from Team Lane Roofing Evo and Global Racing with Sarah Reader at the wheel.
Everyone complained of aquaplaning, “it was just nice when the standing water went,” Littlejohn added after climbing from 13th to second, only to lose over 30 secs in the handover back to Bicknell.
Wheeldon soon caught Bicknell but getting by into second proved a little harder as his rivals defence remained robust until lap 54 at Agostini’s. Global followed into third a couple of laps later into Palmer and completed the third hour a clear second, but well adrift of Roberts’ lead, which was wiped out again only 10 laps into the fourth hour, with another safety car.
Things had worsened for the leaders though when Roberts clipped the Addison car and spun them. “I hit a puddle and couldn’t avoid them,” said Roberts who still got a drive through penalty for “avoidable contact.”
Littlejohn had led again and Mills’ Eco Racing Car had contact with Plimmer as he took second, leaving Plimmer to fight side by side with Deott.
Uvio were still back in front after four hours, as six cars remained on the lead lap. DespatchBay had regained second, from Eco Racing 209, Team Honeywell, Eco Racing 61 and Lane Roofing Evolution, while Global had gone a lap down in seventh.
The lead started to grow early into the fifth hour, but with the weather so inconsistent anything could happen. Paul Turner’s Eco 209 ousted Bicknell’s DespatchBay from second again as Wheeldon pushed for third for Honeywell.
100 laps down and the rains came again with Turner under immediate pressure from both Bicknell and Wheeldon. The Honeywell car was up to second, as the safety car came out as Trumans were recovered from an off at Palmer, but from the green flag Wheeldon went straight on at Riches and the safety car was out again.
A mass pitstop followed but it was still any one from five for the final 45 minutes, Paul Abraham had the lead as Uvio lost out in the pits as Deott rejoined second. But in third Jay Shepherd was in for Eco 61 and it became wheel to wheel with DespatchBay for third.
Deott was back into the lead at Montreal after 115 laps, with Littlejohn briefly second before Abraham took it back. “We hadn’t had the pace of the leaders and then started to slow, I think it was electrical,” said Abraham.
After Eco team mate Shepherd took the challenge to the leaders
he was into second and looking for the lead but Littlejohn was back alongside into Nelson and ahead on the exit. There was contact between the duo and both cars received damage. Deott finally managed to pull out a lead and clinch their first win of the year by 2.28 secs over Littlejohn. “I think I had more rain than Graham, it was really hard work and I got hit up the back by Shepherd,” said the victorious Deott.
“After I got the damage I assessed it and just got used to it, but it had a massive effect on the handling,” Littlejohn explained. Shepherd still retained third with the Alan and Rory Brown’s Eco 61, “I made a lunge at the leader at Coram and hit him and it damaged the front, then couldn’t stop James having a run on me at Brundle,”he admitted.
The Eco 209 finally came in fourth, from Team Lane Roofing Evolution, and Global Racing, while CCS Media, Team Addison, JPR and Team Lane Roofing completed the top ten.
The next outing will the famous Spa 25 hours, but Silverstone is next on the Championship calendar on August 27th.
1 JPR Uvio (Farquini Deott/Graham Roberts) 127 laps in 5h56m15.296s (63.50mph); 2 DespatchBay.com (Rob Bicknell/James Littlejohn) +2.281s; 3 Eco Racing 61 (Alan Brown/Rory Brown/Jay Shepherd); 4 Team Eco 209 (Tom Mills/Paul Turner/Paul Abraham); 5 Team Lane Roofing Evolution (Nigel Griffiths/Christopher Weatherill/Geoff Fawcett); 6 Global Racing (Scott Mansell/Sarah Reader/John Gilbert); 7 CCS Media (Nigel Greensall/Alan Honarmand/Ciro Carannante/Robert Tomlinson); 8 Team Addison Racing (Bill Addison/Martin Addison/Rob Addison); 9 JPR (Steve Brown/Chris Dovell/Mark Hope); 10 Team Lane Roofing (Gary Lane/Kurt Lane/Jordan Lane/Daniel Gullick). Fastest lap JPR Uvio 2m17.871s (77.52mph). Racelogic (Julian Thomas) 56.013s (77.63mph).