Four Out Of Five For Farquini And Fabio
Oulton Park always brings the best out of Fun Cup racing and last weekend’s race was no exception. It’s unusual to win four races in a Fun Cup season, but UVio Hofmanns Lotus’ Farquini and Fabio Randaccio, have now made it four out of the first five!
As the lights went out, Ben Pitch led for PLR into Old Hall, but further back Ryan Lewis’ Greensall Motorsport car had cut out down the Avenue. Olympian’s Chris Dovell spun and We Have No Idea’s Paul Calladine bounced off the barriers too.
Teddy Wilson had the lead for Track Focused before the end of the opening lap, making an early get away with Pitch.
Mark Owens was third for MakeHappen and having started well in fourth, Paul Turner’s Agua Caliente car had manifold problems as early as lap three.
With Turner losing four places on his next lap, Scott Jeffs MJ Tec GITi, Andy Bicknell’s DespatchBay Express, Stand2’s Martyn Compton and Farquini in the UVio car all moved up. “Once it had gone it just continued to lose power,” Turner explained.
Nigel Greensall had started in the CCS Media car and had a very uncharacteristic spin at Knickerbook. “I had new gloves on and selected the wrong gear, it locked the back wheel, spun and stalled,” he explained.
Farquini’s progress was rapid and by the end of lap five he was third and closing in on the lead pair, while Owens and Bicknell had lost ground to fifth and seventh respectively.
After a one lap safety car intervention, Farquini made his move on Pitch for second from the green flag and was soon poised to challenge Wilson for the lead.
The first exchange between the lead duellists came on lap 11, continuing to exchange and run side by side until the first pitstop window.
“I had quite a run in the first few laps, then I got Teddy, he got me back, we drafted and then I just sat behind and saved the car,” Farquini explained.
“I had worked with Ben early on to try and get away, but even when I had the lead Farquini kept coming back,” Wilson replied.
“I really enjoyed that, but lost out to that safety car, “Pitch added.
The first stops came just before the end of the first hour, so Randaccio had the lead for UVio, from PLR’s Neil Plimmer, while Team Viking made six places when Mark Holme handed to Nick Nunn in third.
“All good, just steady and consistent,” said Randaccio. “Yes happy for now,” Plimmer added.
Neil Smith was still fourth for Track Focused, from Stobart’s Richard Webb and MJ Tec GITI’s Martin Gibson. “It was going ok until I accidentally hit the kill switch when I flashed the lights, “Smith admitted. “Our handling was good, but we were down on power with overseer,” Gibson added.
Randaccio continued to lead until the next pitstop window opened, from where Viking stayed out one lap longer, but it allowed Mark Holme to rejoin ahead of Farquini.
As half distance arrived at 54 laps, 11 cars were still on the lead lap. Farquini had gone back in front, but only 0.733 secs covered the lead trio, with Pitch and Holme challenging.
Riley Phillips had taken over from Kristian Rose and had brought Olympian back to fourth, with Gary Bate having taken over the Greenheath car from Simon Smith, in fifth.
“I had to brake on the straight as that lorry driver Gibson nearly put me in the wall,“ Rose reckoned.
“The support act did its job, and is trying to keep Gary out of trouble,” Simon Smith reckoned.
MJ Tec’s Jeffs was seventh, from MakeHappen’s Owens, Stand2’s Compton, Track Focused’s Mike McCollum and Greensall’s Simon Smeeth.
The top four were established at the head of the field, but there was a reshuffle behind race leader Farquini, with Phillips taking both Pitch and Holme.
Into Knickerbook for the 59th time Phillips led for the first time, but it was short-lived as he was into the pits a lap later to hand to Chris Dovell, with Farquini, Holme and Pitch all following.
Viking had done a longer stop earlier under the safety car, which enabled Nunn to rejoin again in the lead, with Randaccio and Plimmer still completing the top three for UVio and PLR.
Three hours in and it was UVio at the front, from PLR and MJ Tec GITI, while Viking were down to fourth, from Olympian and MakeHappen.
Stand2 and Track Focused were both still on the lead lap, while DespatchBay and Greensall’s completed the top 10.
It was still anyone’s to play for and with a number of pit-lane speeding penalties already accrued, a certain amount of caution had to be considered.
There had been another safety car break just into the final hour, but as it went green, Holme was back in the pits for Viking, which meant it was Farquini from Pitch, Jeffs, Owens, Compton and Neil Smith with Holme rejoining eighth.
Both UVio and Olympian made their final stops on lap 91, along with Track Focused, so Pitch was ahead again for PLR, staying out for another five laps.
As Philips chased down Randaccio, they had Holme closing again for Viking. Once Pitch and Jeffs had pitted, their duel became the lead duel again, with Phillips nosing ahead through Knickerbrook, before it changed again at Cascades.
They were continually swapping and changing with Phillips ahead for the most part. “He kept trying around the outside and then was looking at Shell. I thought it was a bit cheeky, so I held the line and he went off onto the grass,” Randaccio explained, after sealing their fourth win of the season. “A real heroes drive and always harder watching from the pit-wall,” added Farquini.
“The finish was the most important, but disappointed not to win of course. He had me in the last two corners each lap, and I just couldn’t get away. A great podium though,” said Olympians Phillips.
Plimmer completed the podium a further 10 secs back. “We should have pitted Ben when the others came in, as it left him isolated and gave me no one to race with,” he said.
Wilson brought Track Focused home fourth, after demoting MJ Tec’s Gibson in the closing laps. “Just a bit too far for us,” Wilson concluded.
Evans completed the top six for MakeHappen, “we didn’t have the right set up today, it made the corners less drivable,” he said.
Completing the un-lapped runners in the duel for seventh were Viking and Stand2. “We were slowing each other up, after initially closing on Greg. Who cares though, we were racing,“ said Stand2’s Warren McKinlay after losing out to Nunn by 0.422 secs. “I had to make the car very wide,” Nunn admitted.
DespatchBay’s Bicknell/Harry Mailer and the Smeeth family Greensall car, completed the top 10.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance Championship, August 16th 2021.