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Although it only seemed like five minutes since we kicked off the 2022 season, it was back to Oulton Park last Saturday for the season’s finale.

The title already secured for CGI Racing, but second place was still up for grabs, with Team Viking heading UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus.

Stobart Sports Richard Webb, Apollo’s John Goodwin and PLR’s Ben Pitch managed open a slight gap on the opening lap, but after taking second into Lodge, Pitch had the lead on lap two, with Farquini into third for UVio/Hofmann’s.

As Farquini continued to pile the pressure on Webb for second, fourth place became a five-car train. “I was at the head of it and messed up at Cascades, the other four all got by,” Goodwin admitted.

But on lap five the safety car came out, with Nigel Greensall’s CCS Media car parked at Knickerbrook. The order was PLR, Stobart’s, UVio, EDF Vapeclub’s Vlad Vassiliev, Olympian Chris Dovell and Olympian 2’s Riley Philips in line behind.

From the green flag Philips was on the move, fourth into Cascades and third into Lodge, but Farquini was now second, as Webb slipped to fourth.

The lead trio began to open a slight gap, as Webb and Vassiliev started to lose ground, but into Lodge Farquini had the lead, but a lap later it was Phillips ahead through Cascades, with Pitch still close in third.

0.405 secs split Phillips and Farquini after the first 30 minutes, with Pitch a further 0.748 secs back in third. Webb and Vassiliev continued to hold fourth and fifth, with Team 3’s John Perrott just holding off Dovell for sixth.

There continued to be little to split Phillips and Farquini at the front, while after sitting back for a while, Pitch closed in again as the first pitstop window approached. “I didn’t realise it was Riley in the car ahead, I though wow this newbie is quick, but I was happy to sit behind and watch,” Pitch admitted.

“I got alongside Riley a few times, but I was happy letting him have it and just sat behind,” said Farquini.

“I couldn’t have done more really, took two cars after the safety car and caught the leaders,” Phillips added.

Vassiliev was the first of the top six to pit, “it was flying and then I handed it to Matt and he broke it,” he reckoned, after the car was towed back with a broken clutch.

Martin Gibson had broken into the top six too for MJ Tec GITI after duelling with Track Focused’s Sean Coop, but when Phillips pitted after 21 laps, Pitch closed in to challenge Farquini’s lead, until they pitted together, along with Cooper and Perrott from third and fourth.

As the first hour was completed Randaccio had a 5.985 secs lead over Olympian’s Kristian Rose, with Neil Plimmer third for PLR and MJ Tec’s Scott Jeffs, GCI’s Craig Butterworth and Track Focused’s Neil Smith the rest of the top six, with Stobart’s Colin Kingsnorth, Viking’s Mark Holme, Greenheath’s Gary Bate and EDF’s completing the top 10.

Randaccio and Rose continued to set the pace with Rose going ahead from lap 33, with Jeffs, Plimmer, Kingsnorth and Smith following.

The second round of pitstops came from lap 41, with Jeffs the first of the leaders in. Rose and Randaccio both came in two laps later, but Farquini emerged with the lead again for UVio, with Scott Parkin in for Olympian.

“I had a touch with CCS when they had a problem and suddenly slowed, it damaged the splitter but not too bad,” Randaccio explained.

UVio led at half distance, but Pitch was back into second for PLR and only 1.895 secs down. Parkin was third, from Greenheath’s Paul Turner, Jeffs and Webb, with Nunn and EDF’s Rob Croydon the only other runners still on the lead lap.

“We lost time at the stop, I came in too hot, so stopped suddenly and couldn’t restart, lost us about 50 seconds,”said Jeffs.

Track Focused were out of contention however, “we lost the shift with a wire coming off, and then just after Mike McCollum had gone out a drive flange sheered, “ said team boss Cooper.

As the final hour approached there had been more drama, after Jeffs had clashed with Randaccio and pushed him off and out of the lead at Shell, after contact through Island.

So Pitch started the final hour for PLR with a lead of just 0.584 secs over Webb, with Farquini equally close in third. Turner was on his own fourth, from Rose, Nunn and Croydon, while Gibson was a lap down in seventh, from TT ace John McGuinness in the GT Radial car, Perrott and Fuelled Up’s Wendy Ellis-Smith.

But only 11 laps into the penultimate stint and the safety car was out again, coinciding with the final pitstop window and only 36 minutes on the clock.

Pitch, Randaccio and Rose all lost out as the safety car came out and while almost everyone else pitted, they had to wait another lap, rejoining in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

“It was all going well until that safety car costs us lots,” said Rose.

Greenheath had gained with Bate taking the final stint, while Stobart’s Kingsnorth and Viking’s Holme were now the top three and backmarkers were mixed in with the lead battle. “It was just at the wrong time for us,” added Pitch and Farquini.

The green flag was finally waved with just 13 minutes on the clock, but mixed in with the lead battle were some backmarkers.

Randaccio had picked off both Kingsnorth and Holme and successfully challenged Bate into Knickerbrook on the 106th lap to claim the lead.

“I had a lunge at Gary at Old Hall, but had to wait until the Knickerbrook chicane to get him,” said Randaccio. Bate had hoped to follow the new leader up Clay Hill to hold off any further challenge, but Jeffs was trying to unlap himself too.

“UVio had made a good move on me, but Jeffs took my nose as he turned in and put me on the grass,” Bate explained.

But Plimmer was flying too, “I got Colin at Old Hall and then Mark around the outside at Shell,” he said after taking second at the flag, just 0.234 secs behind UVio.

Kingsnorth brought Stobart’s home a close third and sealed the Masters title, but fourth for Viking was enough to give Holme and Nunn second in the Championship, over five-time race winners UVio.

Parkin finally brought Olympian home fifth, from the recovering Bate, while MJ Tec GITI, GT Radial, Team 3 and Fuelled Up completed the final top 10.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, October 24th 2022