Double Dutch For Sherardize As Belshaw & Clutton Dominate
It was sunny, it was super hot and it was incident packed, it had to be Fun Cup, as the whole championship crossed the North Sea for an away weekend at Zandvoort.
Although a number or teams showed their pace throughout the two three hour endures, it was the Team Sherardize that took the spoils in both races, with particularly dominant performances from both Belshaw and Clutton during the second half of each race.
There should have been 27 cars on the grid for the first race, but the CCS Media car had been wrecked in testing and a replacement was still on its way from the UK.
Stuart Hall and Andre Gies started on the front row for MAK Racing and JPR GT Radial, but it was TFL Racing’s Jack Lang that had the jump on them both exiting Tarzan for the first time, with Gies heading Hall for second.
By the end of the lap though Gies was ahead, with Lang second, from PT Motorsport’s Ian Payne, MCAC’s Morgan Jones, Hall and 2Rent Dominos’ Chris Hart.
But a huge shunt behind had brought out the safety car, which stayed out for 30 minutes as the debris was cleared. Andy Bicknell’s DespatchBay.com had briefly slowed heading towards Scheivlak to avoid any possible collision with Charlie Kennedy who was having a moment ahead of him and was clipped by GCI Racing Craig Butterworth. With Butterworth spinning, he was left facing oncoming traffic and was met with JPR’s Michael Du Bois rolling over him. Guy Wenham’s Apollo car then hit Du Bois’ car which was still on its side, having already tapped Dominic Jackson’s Greensall Motorsport car, which then had contact with Team Viking’s Mark Holme.
Bicknell, Jackson, Holme and Wenham continued, but Wenham had smashed the radiator and the engine was cooked as he reached the pits, but no drivers were injured.
There were problems for other crews during the safety car period too, with Trumans Colin Kingsnorth suffering a fuel pump failure and Hall was towed in when the MAK Racing car had a throttle cable break, but still got out without losing a lap. “We had been struggling for straightline speed,” said Hall.
Hall’s demise had brought Hart up to fifth, with Track Focused’s Sean Cooper completing the top six as the green flag was readied.
The top seven tried to get away, with Cooper challenging Hart into Tarzan. The 2Rent Dominos man not only fended off Cooper, but both he and Payne ousted Lang and joined Gies in a three car break. “I was overtaking at the start but the slipstream didn’t let me get away,” said Gies
As the first pitstop window arrived the three-car break had not only been hauled back, but Hart was in front of Gies, with Lang, Cooper and Hall in close contention, as Payne and Charlie Kennedy were the first to pit from seventh and eighth.
With Henry Dawes in for 2Rent Dominos, they led to the completion of the first hour, with JPR Radial GT’s Ellis Hadley coming under pressure from Sherardize’s Clutton, while Harry Mailer took the DespatchBay.com car passed JPR UVio’s Fabio Randaccio into fourth. “I had to back off a little though as we were overheating,” said Mailer. “Well we were still in the fight,” added Randaccio.
Behind them Dan Brown was sixth for MAK, while Tom Pattle (TFL), Rob Croydon (Kennedy), Ben Pitch (Honeywell) and Jay Shepherd (Team 7 Fun Bikes) rounded off the top 10.
Clutton was charging though and soon wrested the lead from Dawes, but by half distance Gies was back in front with a 12.615 secs over Hart, with Belshaw a further six down in third, from Farquini Deott (JPR UVio), Neil Plimmer (Honeywell) and Dan Brown.
“I enjoyed leading and didn’t see a car for a while, until Marcus came by as I headed for the pits,” said Dawes. “So far so good but running hot,” Clutton added.
“I got back in front from the start of my second stint and did manage to get a gap this time. But these are men’s cars to drive, no driver aids,” said Fun Cup debutant Gies.
Two hours down and Sherardize were just ahead of 2Rent Dominos by 0.982 secs, with JPR GT Radial, DespatchBay.com, MAK Racing and JPR UVio the rest of the top six.
“Fuel strategy could make it or break it, part of a plan but we are well off the lead,” said Deott. We are struggling with understeer,” said Honeywell’s Plimmer as they dropped to seventh.
Racelogic had been working their way up the order until Jon Tomlinson was brought in with a broken wire to the gearshift.
Although Gies pitted from the lead to hand the JPR Radial GT car to Hadley for the final stint, he rejoined third behind Clutton and Dawes.
“I got a good rhythm and started to build a lead and with Pete driving so well it was looking good,” said Clutton.
There were final dramas however when the steering wheel boss broke on the lead car in two places. “I don’t know how Marcus could drive it like that,” said Belshaw. “I really expected it to break off, as turning right was especially difficult,” Clutton replied.
It did hold on and they took the win by just over four seconds from 2Rent Dominos. “I thought I was holding onto Marcus for a couple of laps, but he was too god and with a broken steering wheel,” Dawes replied.
In third JPR GT Radial secured their first podium. “I was feeling the pressure and hadn’t got a lap timer. Then they told me to get a move on as Harry was closing and I began making mistakes,” Hadley admitted after completing the podium with 1.3 secs in hand.
Mailer’s charge took his DespatchBay.com car passed Team Honeywell after the last stops, “one more lap and I think it would have been third,” said Andy Bicknell.
So Plimmer/Pitch came in fifth, from Viking’s Holme/Nick Nunn. MAK Racing finally settled in seventh, from JPR UVio, while TFL were a lap down in ninth and Greensall Motorsport completed the top 10. “We are a little gravel visit too,” said TFL’s Pattle. “Ours just wouldn’t rev,” UVio’s Deott added.
Having started part way into race one, the substitute CCS Media was on the race two grid from the start, the only absentee being the JPR 267 car from the previous day’s crash.
As they negotiated the Tarzan Hairpin and the tight left at Hugenholtz on the opening lap of race two, Lang led again, from Hall, Shepherd, Payne and Gies.
Hall was soon on the attack and led the field to complete the opening lap, with Shepherd and Payne joining him in a three-car break.
Three became five when Gies and Kennedy latched on, but Gies then broke the tow to his rival a lap later, as Hart came into the frame.
With Payne and Shepherd alternating for second, Hall started to escape at the front. But as the first half hour was completed Shepherd was out. “Into Turn 9 the engine blew and caught fire, it snapped a rod,” he explained.
Gies was up to second, from Payne, Hart and Nigel Greensall’s CCS Media car, but Belshaw was already threatening in seventh.
Hall handed the MAK Racing car to Chris Webster who continued to lead, as they reached the first hour leading JPR GT Radial, 2Rent Dominos, Sherardize, Apollo and Racelogic.
“It was a good start and I managed to get away early, “Hall confirmed. “When I took over I was out on my own and lost ground as I didn’t have a laptimer,” Webster added. “I lost time at the start too, being sensible though, “said Gies. “I wasn’t getting through the backmarkers comfortably, but closed in on the leaders still,” said Clutton.
Apollo’s Guy Wenham found handling a problem. “It’s very unstable,” he said. “Going well though apart from a bit of understeer,” added team mate Ryan Burke.
There was to be no glory for the MAK team though when the engine let go with Brown at the wheel after 68 laps. Also out were JPR GT Radial, “I was going into Hugenholtz battling with Apollo, went to brake and it went from 114kph to 118 and I was into the wall,” said Gies.
2Rent Dominos had also crashed out. “I went off and glanced the barrier, rejoined and then the wheel came off at Tarzan,” Dawes explained. “It’s all been Henry’s faulty today, he got the stop go penalty and then he crashed,” team mate Hart pointed out.
There were no late dramas for Sherardize though, taking victory by over 45 seconds. Apollo looked set for second, but were robbed in the closing minutes by a broken throttle cable.
So Racelogic claimed second, “a change for us to avoid the problems, it usually is us,” said Julian Thomas. “We did have a misfire in my first stint, but after that it was great,” added team mate Tomlinson, whose final words were echoed by David Denyer too.
Team Viking came close to losing their third place though with a late stop go penalty, but still had nine second in hand over the Team 7 Fun Bikes car of Rod Barret, with Alan and Rory Brown.
Despite retiring himself, it was a good day for Shepherd’s flock, as Chris/Edward Bridle/Chris Dovell came in fifth too.
A broken throttle cable also robbed Track Torque Team FNS’s Steve Walton/Greg Evans of a possible top six finish, which promoted Agua Caliente’s Matt Hogg/Matt Perry/Derek Basham.
In seventh Track Focused’s Cooper/Neil Smith/Mike McCollum overcame a lack of power throughout the race, while DespatchBay.com, GCI Racing’s Craig/Grahame Butterworth/Ian Wood and CCS Media’s Greensall, Ciro Carrannante/Aslan Honarmand/Bob Tomlinson completed the top 10.