Posted on In General
Following the thrills of the first visit to Thruxton, it was Silverstone National Circuit for the penultimate Fun Cup weekend of the shortened season.
Once again it was a battle to the flag, but the AxiaMetrics team of Chris Dovell, Kristian Rose and Riley Philips took their first win of 2020 and made it four different winners so far.
There was chaos on the opening lap however, when a seven car break led by JPR GT Radial’s Ellis Hadley, indicated problems behind.
Richard Webb’s Trumans car was missing and both the UVio/Hofman’s Lotus car of Farquini and Viking’s Nick Nunn limped around.
“I went diving down the inside at Becketts and then it when it funnelled in I either hit Viking hard or took to the grass. Then I couldn’t brake and tapped Team Greenheath,” Farquini explained.
Greenheath’s Gary Bate then hit Trumans’ Webb, who was sent sideways across the track and was t-boned by Viking, while Chris Hart’s Make Happen Racing/2Rent Dominos touched the barrier and lost the rear wing, whilst he took to the grass in avoidance.
Out came the safety car for three laps before the green flag was waved.
Just before the caution, Make Happen’s Steve Walton had snatched Hadley’s lead, but from the green both Harry Mailer in the third Make Happen car and AxiaMetric’s Dovell got by.
Within a couple more laps Mailer was ahead and just drove away from the scrap for second.
It was any one of seven for second place, with Sam Smeeth’s Greensall car, GCI’s Craig Butterworth, Dovell, Walton, Hart, Hadley and DespatchBay’s Andy Bicknell, all constantly reshuffling the order.
“I had escaped the first lap incident OK, but didn’t hear the message to say the safety car was going in and wasn’t ready for the restart,” Hadley admitted.
Walton lost a couple of places with a 26th lap spin at Luffield, but the battles continued right up to the first pitstop window, despite Mailer having a lead of over 40 seconds.
Bicknell had stopped early with a puncture, but Hart, Dovell and Walton were early stoppers too, for Henry Dawes, Rose and Greg Evans to take over. “Maybe contact at Copse when I had a touch with GT Radial,” said Bicknell. “That was the most intense opening stint I have ever done, but very enjoyable though,” Dovell added.
Mailer stayed out for another seven laps, one of six to leave it until the end of the window. “I was surprised to get such a lead as I expected more cars to be on my pace,” he said.
Smeeth’s Greensall car had briefly held second, “the initial lap or two was so intense and gave me a real buzz. I had to change tactics and try and work with someone though,” Sam explained.
The team 7 249 had been in the thick of it too with Sam Brown, “it was going well then I got sandwiched between three cars at Maggotts and couldn’t get it out of fourth gear,” he said.
So as the first hour was completed the driver changes were complete and Chris Walton’s Make Happen car led by a decreasing 5.6 secs from AxiaMetrics Rose, with Dawes third for 2Rent Dominos, Jay Shepherd’s Team 7 WASPP, PLR’s Neil Plimmer and Greenheath’s Simon Smith.
Walton’s lead continued to come down as Dawes started to consolidate third, while Evans demoted both Plimmer and Smith before threatening Shepherd for fourth.
In only his third racing weekend, Chris Walton managed to hold onto the lead until lap 55, “I knew Kristian was closing quickly, he got me and then I spun at Luffield trying to stay with him,” he admitted.
“I just concentrated on closing on him and then went by under braking at Becketts,” Rose replied.
So more driver changes and the halfway point arrived with AxiaMetrics, 34 secs up on Mailer/Walton’s Make Happen car, with PLR and 2Rent Dominos both on the lead lap, while Walton/Evans Make Happen and Shepherd/Ed Worthington’s Team WASPP completed the top six, both a lap down.
“I enjoyed that stint passing more cars, but we had a bit of braking flat spot,” Mailer added.
An hour later, the AxiaMetrics trio had a lap on the rest, with PLR, holding off the Make Happen cars of Hart/Dawes and Walton/Evans, with the Brown’s Team 7 tailed by Mailer/Walton, Shepherd/Worthington’s Team 7 WASPP and GCI’s Butterworth/Ian Wood, all building up to a fantastic finale.
With 45 minutes on the clock, Rose had 47.5 secs in hand for AxiaMetrics, but the Make Happen cars of Hart and Steve Walton, were still pressing PLR’s Ben Pitch for second, with Mailer in fifth and another three car battle for sixth between the Team 7 WASPP cars of Sam Brown and Worthington and GCI’s Wood, all back on the lead lap.
The final pitstop window arrived, but Mailer had charged back into second and Pitch was still third, but both stayed out when the rest made their changes.
The Make Happen tactics were working perfectly and by staying out Mailer allowed Chris Walton to rejoin in second place, from PLR’s Plimmer and Make Happen team mates Evans and Dawes.
Phillips was at the wheel for AxiaMetrics and knew what he had to do, “just bring it home but I had one scare when I found Chris Walton in the middle of the track. Otherwise it was plain sailing,” he said after winning by 1m05secs. “Riley just drove the hell out of it and overall it was great team work.” Rose added.
Walton had spun at Becketts, but Plimmer couldn’t hold off the duelling Evans and Dawes as they swapped and changed lap after lap. “When Greg got ahead the last time I think he thought it was the last lap and I then got a late tow and was through, but flying today,” said Dawes.
“Yes I thought it was the last lap, but came around and no flag, but I had already backed off and Henry went by again. But well happy to get that first podium, at last lap,” Evans explained. “We’ll take that, mega,” co-driver Walton added.
Plimmer still brought PLR home fourth, “Henry and Greg came passed me like a train though,” he admitted.
Fifth was the first of the Team 7 WASPP cars with Rory Brown taking it to the flag, “it was hard work but we just had to stay focused,” he said.
Mailer was delighted with sixth place, “considering Chris’ lack of experience, he did such a good job and never expected top six,” he explained.
Thruxton winners Shepherd and Worthington were seventh, with GCI’s Butterworth/Wood, UVio/Hofmans Lotus’ Farquini/Fabio Randaccio and Greenheath’s Smith/Bate completing the top 10.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup, September 14th 2020.