COULD IT HAVE BEEN ANY CLOSER??
FUN CUP ENDURANCE 2023 – ROUND SIX – SILVERSTONE
VIKING/URSUS DUO TAKE VICTORY……… BY 0.09 SECS!!
Mark Holme and Jonathan Hoad became the third Fun Cup winners of the season, after they took their Team Viking/Ursus Capital Racing car to victory by just 0.090 secs, from Racelogic’s Julian Thomas/David Denyer, after four hours of racing.
Ben Pitch led the opening lap for PLR, from Britain West’s Gordon Ross, Holme, UVio/Hofmann’s Farquini Deott, Axiametrics Simon Rudd and Greenheath’s Gary Bate.
But over the next five laps the field continued to shuffle positions, with Marcus Clutton going to the fore for Signature RV on lap four, after an exchange with Farquini a lap earlier.
Rudd then split the lead pair and the top four briefly paired off, Clutton with Rudd and Farquini with Bate, until the top three split again, to leave a seven-car battle for fourth. “The aim was to work together and extend the gap, as we seemed a little down on power,” said Farquini.
Pitch and Bate had managed to run side by side, “we were battling for fourth into Copse, side by side and I got him. It’s the closest racing we’ve had all year, it just kept changing,” said Pitch. “I spun after contact with GCI’s Ian Wood, he wiped me out,” Bate reckoned.
Not even a three-lap safety car intervention broke the pattern and it continued until the first pitstop window, with Farquini pitting first to hand to Fabio Randaccio, while Clutton, Rudd, Pitch and GT Radial’s Ellis Hadley all came in a lap later, having held the top four places.
“We eventually worked together, but I was concentrating on helping the team sort some earlier problems and when I came in the new engine felt a bit tight,” said Clutton. “We were racing each other at first, but then worked together,” Rudd added.
Chris Weatherill had the lead for Axiamatrics as the first hour was completed, having built up over seven seconds advantage over Randaccio, with Steve Ruston third for Signature.
It was still a five-car train for fourth, despite the stops, with Hoad leading the group for Viking/Ursus, from GCI’s Craig Butterworth, Greenheath’s Paul Turner, PLR’s Neil Plimmer and MJ Tec’s Will Abraham.
Weatherill had been out front for the whole of his stint, from Randaccio, while Hoad and Plimmer had been alternating for third. When Neil Burrough’s took over the lead car, it had to be pushed started, losing valuable seconds.
“I had been leading and that was awesome,” said Weatherill, while both Plimmer and Hoad had possible issues. “The clutch felt like it was starting to go,” said Plimmer. “My brake pedal went to the floor at Brooklands on one occasion,” Hoad added.
With Farquini back in for UVio/Hofmann’s, he had built up a 16 seconds lead as we reached the half way point in the race.
But the fight for second couldn’t have been closer as Holme and Denyer shared exchanges on almost every lap. “I would get him at Copse, then he got me at Becketts and then me again at Brooklands, until we worked together and closed on UVio,” Holme explained. “We did swap a lot, but stopped racing each other and closed the gap,” Denyer added.
It had remained close for fourth as PLR’s Pitch and Axiametrics’ Burroughs duelled too, while MJ Tec, Greenheath, Team Ratters and Red River Sport rounded off the top10.
After a handful of laps it was pit stop time again, Burroughs and Farquini had stayed out in front, but unlike a usual Fun Cup race, PLR, Viking/Ursus, Racelogic, GCI and Greenheath were all in contention still.
Towards the end of the third stint the pattern had begun to change though. It was still any one from six, but after Axiametrics had lost the lead to Plimmer, Hoad moved up to, but after contact with UVio’s Randaccio, Axiametrics Weatherill picked up a rear puncture.
Hoad, Racelogic’s Julian Thomas and Plimmer continued to share the lead, with UVIo a close fourth, but the penultimate stop came a few laps before the three-hour mark, with six cars still on the lead lap.
Holme took over the Viking/Ursus car, and led by 2.2 secs from Uvio’s Farquini, but Denyer, Pitch, Wood and Bate were all in contention still, with Axiametrics now a lap down after their extra stop.
There was another brief safety car intervention, but while Holme managed to stay out in front, Denyer was into second and Pitch third as UVio started to lose ground.
The final pitstop window arrived with Farquini and Holme first in from the lead, as Denyer, Wood, Bate and Rudd followed over the next two laps.
With 45 minutes racing left on the clock you could have been forgiven for thinking the race was almost over. After 169 laps only 0.889 secs covered the top four of Hoad, Randaccio, Turner and Denyer though, with Butterworth in fifth and Burroughs sixth, after getting unlapped during the latest safety car break.
A lap later Turner was squeezed out of the quartet, as Thomas and Butterworth progressed to challenge Randaccio. Thomas led into Becketts a couple of laps later, but two laps more and Hoad was ahead again at Brooklands.
There was time for another 20 laps, and the duel for the win continued right to the flag, with Hoad and Thomas swapping continuously, as they managed to ease clear of a late challenge from the chasers.
But there was more than enough drama in the fight for third, where Butterworth and Randaccio had ben duelling, until the UVio car was forced to pull off after 185 laps, with broken rear suspension.
But Butterworth then had both Turner catching and Burroughs closing in too. Three laps from home it was fourth for Axiamatrics, before a last lap challenge from Burroughs on Butterworth paid dividends, as they completed the podium.
GCI were left to settle for fourth, from Greenheath and PLR, while in seventh Team Ratters were one lap down.
EDF 212, Signature RV and Vapeclub EDF rounded off the top 10, two laps down, while the Masters podium was Racelogic, from Greenheath and PLR.
“What a day and what a race, the strategies, Jonny, the team and everything,” concluded the victorious Holme.
Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, August 22nd 2023