UVio Hofmann’s Consolidate Championship Lead
After a year’s absence, Fun Cup returned to the Anglesey circuit, for its traditional double-header, featuring the day into night race. Once again former champions UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus were the team to beat, ending the weekend with their third win of the season, after taking second in race one.
As the first race got underway, it was Sam Smeeth soon pulling clear for Greensall Motorsport, from Stobart Sport’s Colin Kingsnorth, but as early as lap nine, Sean Cooper was pitting for Track Focused, with engine problems. Once Dominic Jackson had got the Black Widows car ahead of Enduro’s Jon Currie, he had just started to consolidate too, before heading pit-wards with an engine malady also.
Kingsnorth gradually started to lose pace as the completion of the first half hour approached. His engine had expired, “short and sweet but it was leaking coolant onto the back wheels and was cooked,” he explained. So, 30 minutes in and Smeeth was 25 seconds clear of second Neil Plimmer in the PLR car. Farquini was third, with Greenheath’s Gary Bate, Viking’s Mark Holme and MJ Tec’s Martin Gibson completing the early top six.
Both Agua Caliente cars were out of contention and Ellis Hadley was towed back too, “I bounced over the grass at Church after going off on the Stobart fluids, and did my radiator,” he explained, after briefly holding third place. “We were doing OK too until the car in front slowed, I hit him up the back and it did our radaitor,” Agua’s Paul Turner explained.
With the safety car out to recover Hadley’s car, the pitlane was suddenly super active for the first changes. It had been the usual pristine stop for UVio/Hofmann’s and at the first hour, Fabio Randaccio had a 0.677 secs lead over DespatchBay’s Harry Mailer, with Ben Pitch still keeping PLR in the frame. Kristian Rose had hauled defending Champions Team Olympian up to fourth, from Enduro’s Chris Weatherill and Viking’s Nick Nunn.
As the race wore on, DespatchBay, UVio Hofmann’s and PLR set the pace, with early leaders Greensall Motorsport and Team Olympian in the hunt too. Two hours down and the Mailer/Andy Bicknell combination had kept DespatchBay out in front, but Plimmer/Pitch continued to show good pace in second. The top 10 were all still on the lead lap, with Greensall’s, Olympian and Viking the top six, followed by MakeHappen, Greenheath, Stand2 and the second Greensall car of Ryan/Paul Lewis.
With 45 minutes left, the penultimate stops were made, with Plimmer pitting from the lead to hand to Pitch, Bicknell to Mailer, Farquini to Randaccio, Rose to Phillips and Bate to Smith, as the top five continued to fight for overall honours. But from sixth, Holme was stranded in the Viking car with a hub failure. So the safety car was out again which made it a 20 minute sprint to the flag with plenty more dramas.
Phillips had charged through for Olympian and was ahead of Pitch from the 101st lap. But with 15 minutes on the clock, their engine let go and it was all over. From there, it was a duel between Mailer for DespatchBay and Greensall in the Greensall Motorsport car. Only four laps from the flag, Mailer ran wide at Turn One and Greensall was through to take victory on the road.
However, post race scrutineering found an error in the wing height, Greensall was excluded and the victory went to DespatchBay and Mailer/Bicknell. UVio moved to second, delighted after early tyre problems. Completing the podium were Plimmer/Pitch for PLR, while in fourth, Greenheath’s Bate/Smith both drove an outstanding race. “Our best ever finish, yes I did feel the pressure and just looked who was ahead of us,” Smith admitted. MakeHappen’s Greg Evans/Stephen Walton finished strongly to take fifth, with Stand2 completing the top six, with Martyn Crompton/Warren McKinlay/Duncan Rogers.
For five crews it had proved to be a premature end to their weekend, including notables as Olympian, Enduro and Stobart Sport. So it was 17 cars out to battle into the setting Anglesey sun for race two.
Walton held onto the early lead before losing out to MJ Tec’s Scott Jeffs, but Randaccio and Sam Smeeth were ploughing through the field and were ahead by the end of lap two. The UVio/Hofmann’s and Greensall drivers kept alternating for the next 12 laps before Smeeth started to open a gap. After their race one success, PLR’s hopes were high, but a brokenndriveshaft left them stranded when he was chasing Jeffs for fourth, after he had lost out to Greenheath’s flying Bate.
At the completion of the first hour, UVio/Hofmann’s were over 27 seconds clear of MJ Tec GTi, who had both Greenheath and MakeHappen challenging for second. Viking and Track Focused were the rest of the top six, with GTi Radial just behind, after Steve Peat had done his first ever start.
DespatchBay had been up to fourth until the throttle cable broke, “I nearly hit Harry when he slowed, as I was expecting to follow him through,” said Smith. “We got our car back and it’s great,” said Randaccio, as UVio/Hofmann’s continued to go from strength to strength. Bate was chasing Randaccio hard at the front though, “that was just fabulous,” said bate.
One hour left on the clock and there were still seven cars on the vital lead lap. Farquini was back in as they completed the second hour, 6.888 secs up on MJ Tec’s Gibson. Evans was close in third too for MakeHappen, with Viking’s Holme having got ahead of Greenheath’s Smith at the stops. Neil Smith for Track Focused and Hadley for GTi Radial were the chasers, a lap up on Greensall’s.
UVio couldn’t afford to relax as MJ Tec edged closer, with both Viking and Greenheath edging back ahead of MakeHappen. Thirty minutes left and the lead gap was 5.583 secs, but Jeffs had both Holme and Smith poised to challenge. Both of the final stops were completed with 20 mins left, but UVio/Hofmann’s waited until last when Randaccio pitted to hand to Farquini.
Second was now between Holme and Smith, with Gibson under pressure in the MJ Tec for his fifth, from Track Focused’s Cooper. With only five minutes to go it was suddenly all over for MJ Tec GITI, when Gibson stopped on the circuit, with no drive. So, Farquini made it win number three, with 27.881 secs to spare over Team Viking. “That was just great,” said Randaccio. “We changed tyres and hubs before the race and we had our own car back,” Farquini added.
“That made up for the first race, the car was so good,” said Home, “Yes we’ll take that thanks,” Nunn added. Greenheath secured their first podium, but Smith had MakeHappen’s Evans piling on the pressure in the final laps. “Everything just aligned today, we got it somewhere,” said Bate. “I think I was catching Viking too until I ran wide and damaged the splitter,” Smith added.
Evans/Walton were therefore only 0.301 secs off the podium for MakeHappen, while Cooper/Smith/Mike McCollum were the last unlapped runners in fifth. “The engine wasn’t as good as our original and the handling was a bit off, but we got there,” Cooper concluded. GT Radials Hadley/Peat rounded off the top six. “I learned so much today, mainly on how to manage my own pace,” said Peat.
The Masters quartet of Greensall’s, Stand2, Black Widows and Team Caudwell rounded off the top 10.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance Championship, July 12th 2021.