DRAMATIC DONINGTON FINALE
FUN CUP ENDURANCE – ROUND EIGHT – DONINGTON – REPORT
TEAM VIKING VICTORY AFTER LAST LAP DRAMA
Four hours of racing on the Donington GP circuit and it came down to the last lap, with Teddy Wilson securing Team Viking’s first win of the season.
Poleman Richard Webb led into Redgate for Stobart Sport, from Vapeclub’s Vlad Vassiliev, Shire GB’s Sam Smeeth and Apollo’s John Goodwin.
But Smeeth was second into the Esses and already looking for the lead into Melbourne. They swapped on the run up the hill to Goddards, but Webb overshot, allowing Vassiliev through into Redgate too.
Vassiliev tried to put the pressure on Smeeth but was back under pressure himself, with Webb and Goodwin inches behind and both EDF’s Simon Coles and UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus’ Fabio Randaccio closing too.
Smeeth’s lead began to grow, but Randaccio was on the move, having already taken Coles and Goodwin, he took third from Webb into Melbourne on lap five.
It was another three laps for Randaccio to take second from Vassiliev, while behind Goodwin was in fourth, from Olympian’s Chris Dovell, after Webb overshot at Goddards again and lost ground after contact.
Randaccio started to close on Smeeth’s lead and was ahead on lap 14, only for Smeeth to retake into the Esses, before an identical move a lap later saw them swap again.
For a while the gap opened, but Smeeth then closed-up again, with Vassiliev a solitary third. “I was getting away and then got compromised by backmarkers into the Old Hairpin,” Randaccio explained.
Dovell and Goodwin continued to duel for fourth, with Webb, staying close, as Viking’s Mark Holme and PLR’s Ben Pitch disputed seventh.
Webb and Holme were the first front runners to pit, with Randaccio staying out to the end of the window.
“I was managing to stay with the leaders until I went wide at Melbourne and lost the tow,” said Vassiliev.
“Great battle with Chris and Richard, we also maximised on the other mistakes I think,” Goodwin added.
“Side by side with Richard, it was all very clear and thoroughly enjoyable,” said Dovell.
The top 10 were all on the lead lap after one hour, with UVio’s Farquini Deott 10 secs up on Shire GB’s Ted Smeeth, with Olympian’s Scott Parkin, Viking’s Wilson, EDF’s Matt Dorkings and GCI’s Craig Butterworth the rest of the top six.
The safety car was briefly out on lap 30, which cost Smeeth dearly from the green flag, as both Parkin and Wilson went by at Coppice a couple of laps later.
Dorkings had also lost places, which moved Butterworth up to fifth, with PLR’s Neil Plimmer taking sixth through Goddards.
The next series of stops came about 10 laps later, with Parkin having taken the lead from Farquini on lap 41. He was one of the first to stop handing the Olympian car to Kristian Rose, while UVio/Hofmann’s stayed out another six laps before handing to Randaccio again.
“The safety car maybe helped me a bit. I could see UVio and then I got a better run out of the Esses and went ahead into Melbourne,” said Parkin.
“That was a great stint against Scott, he drove really well,” Farquini added.
With stops completed UVio had almost 12 secs lead over Olympian, with Shire GB in third, from GCI, Vapeclub EDF and Viking, while PLR and Apollo duelled for seventh.
“The safety car had made us make up time, but we are just being sensible out there,” said GCI’s Butterworth. “We got bodywork damage after Ben got hit by EDF at the Old Hairpin, it was flapping and working like an air brake, so we had to rip it off,” PLR’s Plimmer explained.
So halfway and there were still eight cars on the lead lap, with UVio’s lead over 18 secs from Olympian. Smeeth’s were still third for Shire GB while Vassiliev had GCI for fourth.
Viking were in sixth, but there was still nothing to split PLR and Apollo for seventh. Tachosys EDF’s Alex Macleod/Paul Rivett were ninth, despite Macleod being tipped around early on and Rivett pitting for an exhaust repair. EDF’s Coles/Rob Croydon rounded off the top 10.
There some confusion as the next pitstop window approached, as UVio, Shire GB and GCI all came in early, as the safety car re-appeared. Both UVio and GCI came in again, as there was question over when the pit stop window board had been shown.
It was seven laps before the green flag was waved, with Ted Smeeth quickly being swamped by the rest of the top five.
It was a three-car fight between Wilson, Dovell and Farquini, with Plimmer in fourth.
Into McLeans for the 70th time Farquini was through, but a lap later Wilson retook as Dovell looked on from a clear third.
A couple of laps later it was Farquini ahead, but the leaders were all closing up again as they were having trouble getting by EDF’s Croydon who was a lap down.
The top eight were still on the lead lap as we started the final hour, but UVio’s cushion of over 11 secs was looking comfortable for Randaccio, while in second Rose had 1.8 secs in hand for Olympian, over GCI’s Wood, with Shire GB’s Sam Smeeth, PLR’s Plimmer, Viking’s Wilson, Vapeclub EDF’s Vassiliev and Apollo’s Peter Flynn following, before EDF’s Coles and Tachosys’ Macleod rounded off the top 10.
GCI had dropped back to sixth as the final stops approached, as Smeeth, Plimmer and Holme had all gone by. Viking were first in with the majority following a lap later, just before the final safety car intervention.
It was nine laps of caution during which time Sam Smeeth came in with the Shire GB car from the lead, handing to Ted for final restart.
There was only 14 minutes on the clock when the green flag finally came out, but initially Smeeth judged it well, backing up his rivals to cross the line three seconds clear. “I did my best to back them up, but it was inevitable they would come by. I think Nigel may have held me up a bit in the CCS car though,” Ted reckoned?
Farquini had been in second, but Parkin scythed by into the Esses, before both took Smeeth into McLeans. It was game over for PLR and Plimmer though, pulling off to retire.
But Wilson was charging too and took the Viking car into the Old Hairpin for third on lap 113, with Farquini taking the outside line at Goddards to wrest the lead from Olympian again.
Only a lap later into the Redgate the lead changed yet again, but their duel had allowed Wilson to close in.
It was any one from three into the final laps, with Wilson into second on the penultimate lap, with 0.683 secs covering all three!
“I had contact with UVio about of six laps earlier and the steering was a bit out. As I turned into the Old Hairpin for the final time, I lost the rear end and spun, Parkin explained, after it was race over for Olympian, as he was collected heavily by Farquini.
“I was in the middle and slowed just enough to avoid Scott spinning, I saw him first and got away with it and Farquini didn’t,” said Wilson, who became the new race leader and secured the first win of the season for Holme and Team Viking. “And I had just sat there steady all day,” Holme added.
So, the Shire GB duo of Sam and Ted Smeeth were a surprised second, from GCI’s Butterworth and Wood. Vapeclub EDF’s Vassiliev/Dorkings were fourth, from Apollo’s Goodwin/Ramsey /Flynn, while Farquini still managed to limp their damaged car to the flag in sixth. “I was totally unsighted when Scott spun. I was biding my time and it was tight at Redgate, so I was poised to challenge when Teddy moved over, only to be greeted by the Olympian car and there was nowhere to go,” Farquini explained.
Parkin was still classified seventh a lap down, with EDF’s Coles/Croydon, Tachosys’ Macleod/Rivett and Red River Sports Johnny Mowlem/Gareth Williams the rest of the top 10. It was not only Red River’s Fun Cup debut, but Williams’ first race ever!
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, September 25th 2022