PHILLIPS STARS AS OLYMPIAN TAKE SECOND SUCCESSIVE WIN
FUN CUP ENDURANCE 2023 – ROUND TWO – SNETTERTON – REPORT
OLYMPIAN TRIO MAKE IT TWO A ROW
It was a sunny Snetterton that welcomed the Fun Cup Endurance grid to the second round of this years Championship.
The Red River Sport car had drawn pole, with Gareth Williams at the wheel for the start, with Seed Data’s Matt Hogg alongside.
Returning champions GCI were out in front from Agostini on the opening lap, with Ian Wood, heading UVio/Hofmann’s Farquini, MJ Tec’s Scott Jeffs and Fuelled Up’s Paul Ellis-Smith.
Jeffs was into second at Wilson on lap two, as the top three edged clear, taking the lead from Wood lap later. Rob Croydon was up to fourth for EDF, but the safety car was soon in action after Sylvain Guintoli’s GT Radial car had contact with Martin Gibson (JPR 251) and Hogg.
“Sylvain lost his brakes, but the collision broke a driveshaft and I had no drive,” Hogg explained.
It was green again after just a lap, with the lead quintet making an immediate break, but EDF’s Vlad Vassiliev was already heading pitwards with a handling problem.
Gibson then latched onto the top five as the top six began to circulate line astern, but behind them Greenheath’s Paul Turner and Shire GB’s Sam Smeeth were duelling, as Ellis-Smith and Viking/Ursus Colin Kingsnorth slipped down the order.
Croydon was the first to demote Farquini for third on lap nine, with Gibson and Axiametrics Simon Rudd soon following. “I was struggling for front end grip and couldn’t stay in the tow. I let cars by and tried to go with them, but couldn’t,” Farquini explained.
Croydon also started to lose ground, “it was lovely and then the tyre pressures were too high, I was having to brake early and missed apexes,” he explained.
Jeffs had been out in front, from Wood and Rudd, but the lead pair began to alternate as the pitstop window approached. “It was difficult out in front and I tried to go as quick as I could,” said Jeffs. “I enjoyed the first few corners in particular,” Wood admitted.” “It was a good scrap but I wanted to be at the front,” added third placed Rudd.
Wood was the first of the leaders to pit, with Rudd taking the lead just before he and Jeffs pitted together.
At the one hour mark Craig Butterworth was out in front for GCI, from Olympian’s Kristian Rose, UVio/Hofmann’s Fabio Randaccio, Axiamatrics Chris Weatherill, Shire’s Sam Smeeth and MJ Tec’s Will Abraham. “The car felt stodgy though, the tyres were horrible,” said Butterworth.
The second hour was safety car free, but GCI were the pacesetters, seeking a repeat of their maiden victory at the Norfolk Circuit last season. Olympian, Shires, UVio Hofmann, Axiametrics and MJ Tec were all in contention at the sharp end, but following the second stop it was GCI again from UVio/Hofmann’s. “Chris Dovell gave me a good car in a good position and we made it to the top,” said Olympian’s Rose.
Riley Phillips was in for Olympian and soon reeled in the lead pair, before splitting them on lap 47 and leading a lap later. The two hour mark soon followed and Phillips had almost four seconds lead over Farquini, with Wood a close third, while Axiametrics’ Scott Parkin completed the top five and were the last to stay on the lead lap. “The car is really good, it feels very strong,” said Phillips. “Our grip got better, but we haven’t got that ultimate pace,” Farquini added.
There was a familiar look to the head of the field as we approached the end of the penultimate hour too, with little to split Farquini and Wood at the head of the field.
Olympian were still in third, but Viking/Ursus had shot up to fourth, heading MJ Tec and PLR. But the race was over prematurely for Axiamatrics, with Rudd having just taken over, they suffered clutch failure.
It seemed to get closer and closer as the final stops approached and with 83 laps done, Wood retook the lead for GCI from UVio/Hofmann’s Farquini, split by just 0.285 secs, with Rose in third for Olympian, from MJ Tec, Viking/Ursus’ Kingsnorth and PLR’s Ben Pitch, with the top nine back on the lead lap.
Olympian and PLR were the first frontrunners to make the final stop, with Phillips and Neil Plimmer taking over, before Kingsnorth handed over the Viking/Ursus car to Mark Holme a lap later, with frontal damage.
It was another three laps before the lead pair stopped, with Randaccio emerging first from Butterworth, as Phillips started tom chase down an eight second deficit.
13 minutes left on the clock and only 2.084 secs covered the top three, with Phillips continuing to close. “I knew I might be able to see them after the stops, but at first it seemed to take a while. Then I got onto the back of them, but I thought they would fight tooth and nail,” said Phillips.
He was into second through Agostini on lap 96 and 0.465secs off Randaccio’s lead. “I completely locked up when Riley got me into Oggies, then did it gain when Craig got me too at Williams,” Randaccio admitted.
Phillips was clear and made it a second successive win for Olympian, with Rose and Dovell, finally taking the flag two seconds clear.
Randaccio had another late lunge to try and retake second, but ran wide at Wilson. So Butterworth and Wood came home second for GCI, with Randaccio and Farquini completing the podium for UVio Hofmann’s.
In fourth Viking/Ursus’ Holme/Kingsnorth finished strongly to take fourth and second in the Masters behind Olympian, while in fifth MJ Tec’s Jeffs/Abraham had looked to heading for the podium for much of the race, as third and fourth placed Masters PLR’s Plimmer/Pitch and Greenheath’s Gary Bate/Paul Turner rounded off the top seven and remained on the lead lap.
The Ratcliff family Team Ratters, EDF’s Croydon/Simon Coles and Red River’s Williams/Johnny Mowlem and Bonamy Grimes completed the top ten.
Next stop is the day night double header at Anglesey on June 24th/25th.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, May 30TH 2023