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Arriving at Oulton Park for the final round of this years shortened Fun Cup season, we’d had a different winner in every race and the duel for the Fun Cup crown was really between Axiametrcis and Team 7 WASPP 263.

A full four hours of action was anticipated and the 26 car grid didn’t disappoint.

MakeHappen had drawn pole and it was Harry Mailer that rocketed away to lead from lights out, as the rest sorted themselves out behind.

James Little was second initially for Team 7/JL Motorsport, with PLR’s Ben Pitch, Team 7’s Sam Brown, and Ian Wood’s GCI and Fabio Randaccio’s Team UVio Hofmans Lotus cars, all finding their way passed Steve Harris in the Black Widows car on the second lap.

As the lead duo started to open a gap, Randaccio was fourth into Cascades and then forced Pitch wide at Knickebrook to end the third lap in fourth place.

But Brown was already in trouble, limping back to the pits with damaged suspension after contact and Wood had a spin in the GCI car,

Chris Hart was also on a charge for 2Rent Dominos/Make Happen. Starting from the eighth row he ousted Pitch from fourth at Knickerbrook, but as some moisture appeared in the air, Mailer was almost caught out at the Knickerbrook chicane, with a trip across the grass before rejoining.

After the first 30 minutes Mailer was over 35 second clear of the duel for second between Randaccio and Hart, with Little down to fourth, closely followed by Graham Roberts for EDF, Pitch, DespatchBay’s Andy Bicknell, Track Focused’s Sean Cooper, Trumans Colin Kingsnorth and Viking’s Mark Holme.

Bicknell was first to make his stop, handing to Marcus Clutton, but just after all the changes had been made, out came the safety car for the first time to complete the first hour.

Mailer had pitted 1min 10 secs up on Randaccio, who made his stop a lap later. But having rejoined with the lead was still intact for MakeHappen’s Chris Walton, but was then erased by the safety car.

Clutton was second for DespatchBay, with EDF third after Martin Byford took over. Viking and Trumans had swapped with Nick Nunn and Richard Webb at the wheel, while UVio/Hofmans and 2Rent Dominos were sixth and seventh after both Hart and Randaccio had gone off earlier at Shell while duelling for second. “I had a little bit of contact with Fabio,” said Hart

Dramas had afflicted the Team 7/JLR car which was back in the garage, but when the green flag was waved Clutton and Byford were on the attack, while Farquini lost more ground for UVio with a stop go penalty.

The 90 minute coincided with the second pit stop window and the lead duo pitted together, after Walton had been usurped by both on lap 33 and was down to ninth when he handed back to Mailer.

Hart and Roberts became the new lead duel, with Riley Phillips having taken over the Axiametrcis car, gradually closing in, with GT Radial’s Martin Gibson holding fifth from the duelling Holme and Randaccio.

Roberts put the EDF car to the fore through Knickerbrook on lap 47, but Hart hung on for most of his stint.

The halfway stage of the race arrived very quickly, with Mailer having charged back into the lead, having taken the duelling Roberts and Phillips on the same lap! “It was frustrating as I could see Harry closing, but couldn’t get passed Graham. I finally got him at Lodge,” said Phillips.

“In my first stint it was just head down and go for it, but I had to work back from a stop go in the second, I got Riley and then Graham at the outside of Cascades, well happy with that,” Mailer replied.

Hart was third, from Randaccio and Gibson but half of the grid were still on the lead lap.

The original plan for title contenders AxiaMatrics and Team 7 WASPP was to stay out of trouble and see what happened, which seemed easier said than done. “There were a lot of lunges and we were down on power a bit, but harder staying out of trouble than racing,” Worthington admitted.

It remained remarkably close throughout the third hour, building up to it’s now customary fight to the flag in the final stint.

PLR’s Pitch/Neil Plimmer started the final hour with their nose ahead of MakeHappen’s Greg Evans/Steve Walton, with EDF, Team Viking, Team 7 WASPP and Track Focused the top six, while AxiaMetrics were seventh and 11 crews were still on the lead lap. “The car was brilliant until Neil took the splitter off in his second stint,” said Pitch.

Mailer had the penultimate stint for MakeHappen 49 and after 14 laps back in the seat, he ousted Pitch for the lead again before handing back to Chris Walton to bring the car home.

Pitch and Roberts battled out for the other podium places until they stopped to hand to Plimmer and Byford, Hadley handed to Gibson from fifth and Steve Walton to Evans from sixth.

“It hadn’t taken me long to feel right in the thick of it again, but we had a bit of a downshift problem,” Roberts explained.

The main title protagonists were sixth and 10th, with Rose handing back to Phillips and Ed Worthington to Jay Shepherd.

Phillips was charging from the moment he left the pitlane in the fading light. With Byford taking Plimmer for third, Riley had got passed Evans, but Shepherd was closing, while they all started to chip away at Chris Walton’s lead.

As the 100th lap was completed Phillips was 20.3 secs off the lead, but title rival Shepherd was into third too and still closing.

It came down and down until four laps from the flag Philips made his move to secure their second win of the season for the AxiaMetrics team, and the Fun Cup crown for team mates Kristian Rose and Chris Dovell.

“I kept asking how long to go over and over, as it seemed an age after I had taken Chris for the lead at Cascades,” Philips admitted.

Despite the pressure of the closing cars Walton retained a solid second, while third was enough for Shepherd/Worthington to seal second in the Championship.

“It was tough, but we just didn’t have the punch in the car today,” said Shepherd.

Fourth place went down to the wire with Byford finally taking it for EDF over MakeHappen’s Evans, after numerous exchanges in the closing laps, and Plimmer came home in sixth for PLR.

“That was entertaining, very hard though and I need to get used to what’s acceptable and what isn’t, “Byford admitted.

“I locked up at Shell as it wouldn’t change down, but a good drive,” said Evans. “That was a real battle,” added Steve Walton.

GT Radial’s Gibson/Hadley were seventh, with outgoing Champion Farquini/Randaccio settling in eighth after a few issues had lost them time. “We had hoped for a podium but lost time with a safety car, so lots of ups and downs today,” said Gibson.

“It was disappointing for us, as the handling had gone after I hit the spinning GCI car head on,” Farquini concluded.

Track Focused’s Sean Cooper/Mike McCollum and Viking’s Hole/Nunn completed the top 10, with 11th place Trumans Kingsnorth/Webb still on the lead lap too. “Nice to be up there without bits falling off,” reckoned McCollum.

So five months to go and we will all hopefully be back at Oulton Park for another full untroubled Fun Cup season.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup, October 19th 2020.