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Defending Fun Cup Endurance Champions UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus were back on the top step of the podium at Croft, having led over 60% of the four-hour race.

Sam Smeeth led initially from pole for Greensall Motorsport, with UVio’s Farquini second into Sunny on the opening lap, from Olympian’s Chris Dovell, CCS Media’s Nigel Greensall, Apollo’s John Goodwin and MakeHappen’s Stephen Walton, after EDF’s Adam Cunnington spun at the Complex and delayed Agua Caliente’s Rob Croydon.

The lead pair soon started to breakaway as the field spread out, but Greensall was third from lap two and closing on the lead pair, with the recovering Croydon fifth into the Complex, as Walton and Goodwin made contact.

The top three had all closed up as Farquini began to look for the lead. He outbraked Smeeth into Tower on lap nine, but from thereon the lead alternated between Smeeth, Farquini and Greensall, until the first pitstop window opened.

“It was a great scrap as we knew we could all trust each other,” Smeeth admitted.

Dovell and Croydon had become firmly established in fourth and fifth, but it was any one from five behind them, with Goodwin, Walton, Viking’s Mark Holme, MJ Tec’s Martin Gibson and GCI’s Ian Wood in contention.

“I had let Croydon by and then stayed with him, but sat behind and worked together,” Dovell explained.

“It was understeering, slow in a straight line, but driveable,” Gibson added. “I decided to watch at first then started to make my moves,” said Wood.

But after 21 laps Greensall was heading pitwards with a broken driveshaft and was out of contention.

Smeeth was the first of the leaders to pit, but with Randaccio in for UVio, they were clear leaders at the end of the first hour, from GCI’s Craig Butterworth, Olympian’s Chris Grimes, Simon Smeeth, Agua Caliente’s Paul Turner and MJ Tec’s Scott Jeffs.

After a safety car intervention early into the second hour, UVio were at the front, from GCI, Olympian, MJ Tec, PLR and Viking, with Olympian first in for stop number two as Kristian Rose tookover from Grimes.

But only a few laps later it was race over for Rose, “I just lost the rear end and hit the wall quite hard,” he explained. So the safety car was out again and both Randaccio and Butterworth took advantage to pit together and rejoin still in first and second, from PLR’s Ben Pitch, Viking’s Holme, Agua Caliente’s Croydon and MakeHappen’s Walton.

Out too were MJ Tec, whose luck ran out yet again with a broken gearbox.

Wood had led from green flag but Farquini soon took it back, but with Holme struggling for pace and Walton losing ground, the top six at the halfway mark had changed considerably.

UVio still led from GCI by just 0.334 secs, with PLR close too, while Agua Caliente, were in fourth, from EDF Vapeclub’s Vlad Vassliev and Stobart Sport’s Colin Kingsnorth.

“We were able to run on the pace with the leaders, so that was good for us,” said Croydon. “Yes the car is good for us too,” Kingsnorth added.

An hour later it was the same top four, but Viking had managed to recover fifth with Teddy Wilson. “I had trouble early on with the oil light and it overheated, so I had to back out for clean air,” said Holme. “We were really struggling for power too though, just to try and stay in the tow,” Wilson added.

Stobart’s were still in sixth, from EDF Vapeclub, with Kaizen Motorsport, Greensall’s and EDF 104 the rest of the top 10.

The final hour became a duel between UVio Hofmann’s and GCI, but with the top five all making their final stops on lap 96, it was time for the most successful strategy to come to the fore.

Only 0.935 secs split the lead pair, but Butterworth emerged with the lead. “We were just keeping our fingers crossed,” GCI’s Wood admitted.

But Randaccio was closing rapidly and was back ahead after 106 laps, going on to secure UVio’s second win of the season, by 19 seconds, from GCI.

“That was brilliant, from the early battle with Sam and Nigel and then just racing with GCI for the rest of it,” said Farquini.

So GCI were second yet again, but there was no such luck for PLR. “We were comfortably in third and the engine had felt so strong. Then boom, no warning, no oil pressure and the crankshaft had broken,” Neil Plimmer explained, just 20 laps from the flag.

Despite their racelong problems Holme/Wilson completed the podium for Team Viking, with a delighted Vassiliev/Matt Dorkings taking a career best fourth for EDF Vapeclub. “It was going well and Matt just got faster, so ecstatic and just waited for the finish with my finger crossed,” Vassiliev admitted.

Agua Caliente ran strongly all day and were rewarded with fifth for Croydon/Turner, “I did a double stint before Rob finished, it was hard work in the heat,” said Turner.

Stobart’s Kingsnorth/Richard Webb completed the top six, despite Webb collecting a pitlane speeding penalty.

The Smeeth family were a lap down in eighth for Greensall’s and it was another good result for EDF with Cunnington/Simon Coles finishing ninth,

Apollo had late problems dropping them out of the top 10, similarly MakeHappen, “we had fuel surge and then the throttle cable snapped,” said Greg Evans.

So the top 10 was rounded off by RAW’s Fuelled Up racing trio of Paul and Wendy Ellis-Smith with Jamie Price, in only their third ever Fun Cup race.

It’s a month to wait for the next Fun Cup round, as we visit Brands Hatch on June 25th.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, May 17th 2022