Tilbrook And Clutton Bow Out With Victory Spoils
The title was already settled in favour of UVio/Hofman’s Lotus duo Farquini Deott and Fabio Randaccio, but honour was still at stake to take a victory in the seasonal finale at Donington Park.
Both “We have no Idea” and EDF 104 were on the back foot from the start of the four hour race, after Paul Calladine pitted after the green flag lap and Kurt Leimer spun at the chicane.
Nigel Greensall took the initial lead for CCS Media, closely followed by Greenheath’s Gary Bate, as Enduro’s Morgan Tillbrook, Olympian’s Chris Dovell, MJ Tec GITI’s Scott Jeffs, DespatchBay’s Andy Bicknell, Agua Caliente’s Rob Croydon and GT Radial’s Ellis Hadley stayed in formation in an early break.
With a slight reshuffling, the lead duo managed to break the tow, until Tillbrook rejoined and split them on lap six.
Greensall started to extend his lead, with Bate losing touch in third, while Bicknell started to consolidate fourth from Croydon, as both he and Jeffs’ demoted Dovell.
Hadley was still in eighth, but had Greensall’s Sam Smeeth and UVio’s Farquini both closing in.
Croydon’s progress continued as he took Bicknell for fourth at the chicane on lap eight, but it was back to a five car train. “The car was a bit of a handful early on though,” said Croydon.
By lap 16 it was any one from eight for fourth place, as Jeffs piled the pressure on Croydon, but MakeHappen’s Neil Burrough’s was coming through too, after a few laps scrapping with Smeeth and Farquini.
The top three had managed to stay clear as the rest battled on, but having started lap 16 in ninth, Burroughs came through fourth, from Jeffs, Croydon and Farquini. “I did four places in one lap down the Craner Curves and at the Old Hairpin, working with UVio, A great stint, loved it,” said Burroughs.
Once Farquini had ousted Croydon, he shared a few exchanges with Burroughs too, but with Dovell in the gravel, at McLeans, out came the safety car which coincided with the first pitstop window.
With most crews having pitted it was eight laps before the green flag came out, with Bob Tomlinson leading the train through for CCS, from Greenheath’s Simon Smith, Make Happen’s Greg Evans, UVio’s Randaccio, PLR’s Neil Plimmer and MJ Tec GITI’s Callum Cripps.
Smith led into Redgate and Randaccio was second by McLeans, as Marcus Clutton challenged both.
Lap 38 brought up the completion of the first hour, with Randaccio leading into the Old Hairpin and Clutton second at McLeans, while Smith retained third, from Cripps, Tomlinson and Plimmer.
“My first race for two years and I joined behind the safety car, great racing though, so competitive,” Cripps added.
A lap later Clutton was ahead, with Cripps and Plimmer demoting Smith on consecutive laps.
Harry Mailer then made it three for third for DespatchBay, but within a couple of laps the three became nine!!
Plimmer and Mailer shared a couple of exchanges, before Mailer made it stick, but Cripps had lost out and dropped to eighth, behind Evans, GCI’s Craig Butterworth and Agua Caliente’s Derek Basham.
Clutton had managed to open a good lead before pitting to hand back to Tillbrook, with UVio and PLR both pitting a lap or two later from second and third.”Mega stint to break the tow,” he said. “I had a couple of poor laps and dropped off the tow, “Randaccio admitted.
The safety car had been out again for a few laps which had had brought Burroughs into third and wiped out Farquini’s seven seconds lead. Jeffs and Croydon were the rest of the top six.
Eight laps of racing and the safety car was back again, after a multiple shunt exiting the chicane had taken out Agua Caliente’s Basham and GCI’s Ian Wood.
Once again it coincided with the pitstop window and the halfway point in the race.
DespatchBay had joined the casualties though, when their clutch went bang and it wasn’t the best of days for Team Viking’s Mark Holme/Nick Nunn. They had climbed to fifth for a while, but a lengthy stop with an oil leak left then well down.
It had started to become a three-way second half battle between UVio, Enduro and PLR, but Enduro suffered a late penalty. “I had loosened the belts too early at the stop and got a penalty Clutton explained.
Into the final hour UVio had a two second lead over PLR, from MJ Tec GITI and Stobart Sport, with Enduro down to sixth.
With 40 minutes left on the clock Burrough’s was back up to fourth for MakeHappen and Tillbrook had got Enduro back into fifth, with Richard Webb in sixth for Stobart Sport, all still on the lead lap.
The last pitstop window began around lap 130, with Farquini coming in with a 1.825 secs lead over PLR’s Ben Pitch, before both pitted on consecutive laps.
“That’s one of the best stints I have had and a sprinkle of rain to spice things up. I got so close to him, so it’s game on,” said Pitch.
“I was watching Ben all the time, I think I was towing him along too,” Farquini added.
On lap 139 leader Randaccio was off and his lead was cut to 5.277 secs. “I went onto the grass at the Old Hairpin and lost the front splitter,” he explained.
Plimmer continued to close for PLR but Clutton was back in for Enduro and was catching them both, while behind it was just as close for fourth between Evans and Jeffs.
“I just wanted a decent finish, no risks, stay in place and consolidate second in the Championship,” said Evans.
Clutton was into second and on lap 142, the final 15 minutes and the lead trio were nose to tail into McLeans, with Clutton ahead at the chicane.
Two laps later, Plimmer was second into Redgate again, but Randaccio got back down his inside at the chicane. “I gave him the corner, but then saw I was heading for the tyre stack so had to turn in. He understeered and we collided,” Plimmer explained as they spun on the exit. “He went wide to let me through and then came back across me,” Randaccio added.
Clutton finally took the flag with over 35 secs to spare as rain began to fall. “It got so slippery I ran off twice at the Old Hairpin,” he admitted.
“A great way to end the season, winning our last three races, GT Cup, British GT and now Fun Cup,” Tillbrook replied.
With Plimmer receiving a drive through penalty, the Evans v Jeffs duel became a fight for second.
“I double stinted at the end as it got wet. There was a slight touch with Greg, but we really went for it,” said Jeffs.
It was Evans in second though by 0.968 secs, “I had honestly planned to stay safe, then he was there and we just had to race, brilliant,” he replied.
Plimmer still came home fourth, with Stobart’s Colin Kingsnorth/Webb and CCS’s Greensall/Tomlinson/Alan Honarmand completing the top six.
The family Smeeth were seventh for Greensall’s, with EDF’s Leimer/Clark eighth Track Focused’s Sean Cooper/Mike McCollum ninth and EDF’s Matt Dorkings/Vas Vassiliev 10th.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance Championship, November 8th 2021