Posted on In General
With a different winner in every round of this years Fun Cup prior to the trip to Zandvoort, JPR Axiamatrics and Team Viking kept the record going, as both made their first visit to the top step of the podium.
The Team Kennedy car of Charlie Kennedy and Rob Croydon had drawn pole for the opening race, with Viking’s Nick Nunn alongside. But with rain and gale force winds from the North Sea, nothing was predictable.
After Kennedy had led initially from JPR UVio’s Farquini Deott and DespatchBay.com, both Viking and GCI made ground on the second lap as PT dropped to sixth. But DespatchBay.com began to pile the pressure on and were ahead by lap five, with Kennedy retaining second, until JPR GT Radial’s Andre Gies stormed through from 10th on lap six, to snatch second 12 laps later.
The charge continued as DespatchBay.com’s lead was eroded, leaving the GT Radial car now in Ellis Hadley’s hands, 9.617s seconds up as the first hour was completed. But it was defending champions 2Rent Dominos into second, with Chris Hart in action, with DespatchBay.com’s Andy Bicknell/Riley Phillips/Harry Mailer having dropped to third on the 25th lap, as Axiametrics’s Kristian Rose began closing in, after Chris Dovell had brought them into the frame. Both Axiamatrics and Viking had got the better of Kennedy’s a lap earlier, who were still sixth, from FNS’s Steve Walton/Greg Evans, while GCI, Trumans and Agua Caliente were a lap down and completed the top 10.
Apollo had been up in the top four, but after problems, had gone four laps down, while JPR UVio’s Farquini Deott/Fabio Randaccio were already sidelined. “Farquini started but we had ongoing engine problems and it wasn’t running right, so we pitted, did an engine change and then came out again,” Randaccio explained.
DespatchBay.com came charging back into contention and after 34 laps had the lead again, from 2Rent Dominos, before Hadley then lost third to Rose. The order had started to settle for a while and after two hours were completed, the top 10 were all back on the lead lap, with DespatchBay.com just over 10 seconds up on GT Radial, who had regained places from 2Rent Dominos and Axiametrics, a couple of laps earlier.
There was a 30 second gap to fifth placed Viking however, with Kennedy’s just holding off GCI for sixth, followed by FNS, Trumans and Agua Caliente. “It was hard for us as we were definitely down on power,” said Kennedy.
It remained any one of about five or six teams for the podium still and although GT Radial were back ahead with Martin Gibson, they couldn’t make it decisive and lost out to DespatchBay.com, again after 66 laps. Axiametrics and 2Rent Dominos were still third and fourth. “We were struggling though with a lot of front end push. It was great in the wet, but not so on a drying track,” said Hart.
Mailer was in for the last stint for DespatchBay.com and well in contention for a win. GT Radial and Viking both had spells at the front as the clock ran down, but on lap 75 Axiamatrics’ Chris Weatherill nosed ahead and in a terrifically close duel to the flag, they just claimed it by 0.052 secs, with Viking and 2 Rent Dominos following in close formation, after GT Radial dropped to fifth.
“We were conscious of not getting involved at the start, just being there and going with the flow until my last stint. I had the lead until Weatherill drafted me passed the pits and made a fantastic move around the outside of Tarzan. I didn’t defend and Mailer was so determined he got through too, leaving me to fend off Henry Dawes in 2Rent Dominos for third,” a great race though,” said Viking’s Mark Holme.
“We had our final stop at the end of the window, but all three of us had a similar pace. So small elements affected us, like the rear seat belts getting caught,” said GT Radial’s Hadley.
It was a double celebration for Axiametrics though, Rose’s birthday topped by the teams maiden victory. “We just knew we had to stay out of trouble and would be in with a chance. The stops all went well and got into the top three in my middle stint, which was sooner than we had expected. But Chris Weatherill did a great job against Mailer, the closest finish ever,” said Rose.
FNS had a couple of late exchanges with GCI before settling the duel for sixth in their favour, while Team Kennedy’s Rob Croydon, Agua Caliente’s Rob Perry/Matt Hogg/Derek Basham and Trumans’ Jonathan Hoad/Colin Kingsnorth completed the top 10.
It was dry and brighter for the second race of the weekend, with Hart setting the pace from the start for 2RentDominos, from Raw’s Paul Rivett, GCI, DespatchBay.com’s Riley Phillips, Trumans Hoad and Viking’s Holme.
DespatchBay.com were first on the move, working their way up to second by lap six, with Trumans following. But as it became a three way battle with 2Rent Dominos, Rivett and GT Radials Gies came back into contention.
But on lap 12, Hart was off, “I had a problem as the paddleshift had virtually dropped off, then I had a straight on and picked up some damage,” he explained.
For the next few laps it was a constant exchange between Phillips and Hoad, with Rivett and Gies still in touch. At the end of the first hour though, less than a second covered the top four, with GT Radial heading FNS, Apollo and Viking, with RAW and DespatchBay.com having slipped down the order during the stops.
FNS took charge as the second hour started and led for five laps, before Hadley took over for GT Radial. But race one winners Axiamatrics were back in contention too, as were JPR UVio after their race one problems. “We were down on power but it was ok in the tow,” said Randaccio.
UVio and Viking began to share the lead, but it was still wide open, as Apollo and Trumans duelled for third, but there were still 14 cars on the lead lap.
The Apollo trio of Guy and Zoe Wenham, with Ryan Burke, pitted again on lap 39, quickly followed by Trumans, Viking and FNS. But DespatchBay.com had gained during the stops and they lead to the start of the final hour.
After the penultimate window Apollo led the way, but were then usurped by Axiametrics and Viking. They managed to jump us in the stops,” said Viking’s Holme.
The battle was on to the finish, but there was still another stop still to be made, Axiametrcis were in front, as Viking and Apollo traded for second and third, with DespatchBay.com and GT Radial looking on.
DespatchBay.com were in trouble though, “just after Andy had handed to Harry for the last stint, the exhaust blew and took six minutes to repair,” team mate Phillips explained.
Axiametrics pitted from the lead, with Holme following them in, but as they rejoined, Nunn, had the advantage for Viking. “When Nick rejoined with the lead he was very determined and we have waited five years for this. The car was great, the strategy and fuel stops had us just where we needed to be, but it was a real fight with Guy Wenham at the end,” said Holme after the conquering Vikings claimed that elusive maiden victory.
For Apollo it was a reward for almost a year of misfortune, second place and only 0.262 secs from victory, a super send off for Ryan and Zoe, as she raced under the Wenham name for the last time.
JPR GT Radial completed the podium. “We gave it everything and fought like lions to get that first win, but small pit issues cost us,” said Gies. “We led for so long, but learned a lot ready for Anglesey,” Hadley added.
There was no repeat for Axiametrics, however, “Viking had jumped us at the last stop, but we were still in there until the clutch went and Chris (Weatherill) stopped on the start and finish straight,” said Rose.
So FNS got yet nearer to their first podium with a solid and hard fought fourth, while a second half charge from Team 7 Fun: Bikes rewarded Jon King, plus Ed and Chris Bridle with fifth.
GCI’s Craig Butterworth/Ian Wood had been strong runners all weekend and finished seventh, while 2Rent Dominos Hart and Neil Burroughs finished eighth. Agua Caliente and Track Life’s Gary Bate/Simon Smith completed the top 10.