Defending Champions Win At Last!
To say that the season hadn’t started well for defending Fun Cup Endurance Champions Team Olympian, would be an understatement. But after visiting the podium at Oulton Park, things got even better at Croft.
From lights out it was Paul Rivett that led into Clervaux for Tachosy’s with Raw Motorsport, followed by Stand2’s Martyn Compton, Track Focused’s Mike McCollum and MakeHappen’s Chris Hart.
Hart was on a charge on his one and only Fun Cup appearance this season, taking third at the Hairpin and second a lap later into Tower.
Rivett tried to stretch the field and had just been joined by Hart, Compton, McCollum, MJ Tec’s Martin Gibson and Viking’s Nick Nunn, when the safety car was called out after PLR’s Ben Pitch and Greenheath’s Gary Bate had collided.
UVio Hofmanns Lotus had already climbed to seventh and from the green flag, Fabio Randaccio was quickly on the move.
It was green from lap 11 with Randaccio up to fourth, but a lap later he was the casualty with mechanical issues.
So three more laps before it was racing again, and it was three abreast, with Nigel Greensall up to fourth for CCS Media.
The first stops came a few laps before the first hour, with most of the top six pitting together.
“That was so frustrating and only my second ever Fun Cup start. I had to try and break the tow three times and couldn’t believe it when the safety car came out a second time,” said Rivett, who pitted only 0.7 secs ahead of Hart, with Compton right behind them.
Scott Jeffs had taken over from Gibson for MJ Tec and led to the first hour. “I made a couple of mistakes when I was leading and was briefly stuck in second gear too,” said Jeffs.
GCI were in second with Butterworth in for Wood, followed by Olympian’s Kristian Rose, Viking’s Mark Holme and MakeHappen’s Neil Burroughs, with Marcus Clutton closing on them all for Enduro.
Both Butterworth and Rose made it past Jeffs on consecutive laps at Tower, with Clutton third and closing.
On lap 41, Clutton got the lead from Butterworth, but couldn’t shake-off the GCI car.
“I had to drive a bit and worked hard, but I like the longer laps. After I got by, GCI just sat behind though,” Clutton explained.
“It suited me in Marcus’ tow as I had slight fuel starvation so was quite happy,” Butterworth replied.
Rose stopped early to hand to Riley Phillips, with fellow top three Clutton and Butterworth staying out.
But as they reached half distance, Olympian’s strategy had worked and they were 8.906 secs ahead of GCI, with Enduro third, from DespatchBay, MJ Tec and MakeHappen 106.
With Harry Mailer in for DespatchBay, he was taking on a triple stint due to Andy Bicknell being injured, but Olympian had the pace.
Into the final hour and there were still nine cars on the lead lap, but it was Mailer/Bicknell in front, with a nine second cushion over Enduro’s Morgan Tillbrook/Clutton, with Olympian in third, closely followed by Stand2, despite Warren McKinlay completing a full 360 at the Complex. “I think my gloves might have caused it,” he reckoned.
GCI, Team Viking, MakeHappen 106, Track Focused and MJ Tec were all in contention too.
On lap 108, there was another safety car, which wiped out Mailer’s lead from 22 .366s over Olympian’s Rose, to only 0.284 secs, with Compton close enough to challenge again in third.
They only managed a couple more laps before the final pitstop window opened, and almost everyone headed for the pitlane together.
Compton led until he was last to pit, which left Phillips with an 8.2 secs lead over Clutton.
Holme was in third, but both Mailer and Butterworth were closing. Out of the battle though was MakeHappen’s 106, “Neil got hit earlier and then the driveshaft has come out,” Hart explained.
Onto lap 124 Mailer was into third, as Holme then had Butterworth threatening. But at the front Phillips still had a good lead, but Mailer had caught Clutton and they started to work together to try and close the gap.
Into the final minutes and any hopes of catching Phillips had all but gone. “My downshift stopped working though and I was briefly stuck in fourth gear at the Complex. I just had to work around it, but couldn’t quite see the battle behind,” Phillips explained, after taking Olympian’s first win of the year by just under seven seconds.
“I was pushing Marcus into Tower as we tried working together, but we were unlucky in traffic. So on the last lap we scrapped our companionship and I went for it,” said Mailer.
He passed Clutton into Clervaux, but after arriving at Tower inches apart, Clutton shot by again through the Jim Clark Esses and retained his place to the flag.
“My seat had broken, it was ok on right handers, but I had to brace myself for lefts. I think Harry went a bit too soon and gave me too much chance to come back,” Clutton replied after they took the flag 0.213 secs apart.
Butterworth snatched a late fourth from Holme. “Mark gave me room at Sunny and came through side by side, before I eventually got him at the Complex,” he said.
Holme therefore brought Viking home fifth, with Stand2 completing the top six. “We lost too much time on our fuel stop possibly, so a bit disappointing as we should have had a podium,” said Compton.
Cooper and Jeffs brought their respective Track Focused and MJ Tec cars home on the lead lap too, while MakeHappen’s Steve Walton/Greg Evans and GT Radial’s Ellis Hadley/Freddie Hunt rounded off the top 10, after Chris Weatherill/Jon Currie’s Enduro car was a late retirement after a hit from PLR.
It’s back to Oulton Park for the penultimate round of the year on October 16.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance Championship, September 6th.