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Former Fun Cup Champions JPR UVio’s Farquini Deott and Fabio Randaccio returned to the top step of the Fun Cup podium, after four hours of non-stop action on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.

Steve Walton had drawn pole for the FNS team with Ed Bridle’s Team 7 Fun Bikes car alongside, as the 26 car grid lined up for the season’s opener.

Bridle led through the opening lap, from JPR Axiametrics Kristian Rose, Walton, Team 7 Fun Bikes’ Alan Brown, JPR GT Radial’s Martin Gibson and Team Kennedy’s Charlie Kennedy.

The reshuffle soon began with Rose to the fore as the first safety car appeared on lap four, with TFL’s Gary Redman in the Paddock Hill gravel. Bridle was still in second, from Walton, Brown, Kennedy and DespatchBay.com’s Marcus Clutton.

From the green flag both Kennedy and Clutton were on the move, taking a place a lap until they exchanged for third place on lap 10 and began to close on the lead duo.

Two laps later Clutton had second into Paddock, before a change of leader soon followed.

Rose continued to stick with Clutton which left Bridle solo in third, while Kennedy’s charge had stalled in fourth, as Gibson continued to shadow him.

In sixth though Ben Pitch had started to bring JPR PLR Racing into the frame.

Gibson had managed to reclaim fourth from Kennedy, but pulled off on his 28th lap. “I hadn’t been pushing hard, just steady and the driveshaft went,” he explained.

Further drama’s followed when Bridle also stopped 10 laps later. “It was a cheap circlip that had broken, so the driveshaft popped out,” he said.

Although Clutton was still out in front from Rose, Bridle’s departure had brought defending champions 2RentDominos into the podium places, after a charge from Chris Hart, had taken him passed Kennedy on the same lap.

Sean Cooper’s Track Focused car had also closed in, while in sixth Guy Wenham led a six car train for Apollo, from Pitch, JPR UVio’s Randaccio, PT Motorsport’s Ian Payne, GCI’s Craig Butterworth and Trumans’ Colin Kingsnorth.

But Wenham was the next to hit trouble, pitting with engine maladies which put them out for the count.

Hart was an early stopper when the first pitstop window opened, but then found they had been given a penalty too. “The car felt good though, I can only think the penalty was track limits, as I only hit two cars out of 25,” he said.

With one hour down the top 10 were all still on the lead lap, with Riley Phillips in for Clutton to hold a 4.778 secs lead over JPR Axiametrics’ Chris Dovell. 

JPR UVio had picked up a penalty at the start, but Randaccio had handed to Farquini in third, despite a severe bout of pessimism. “I got a stop go, but thought I was driving immaculately. That’s it for us now, we have got no chance,” he reckoned.

Richard Webb had taken over the Trumans car from Kingsnorth to hold fourth, with Ian Wood in for GCI and Mike McCollum for Track Focused to complete the early top six, while JPR PLR, FNS, PT Motorsport and 2Rent Dominos rounded off the top 10.

But well down the order had gone the Kennedy car, after an excellent opening to the race. “I had lost the splitter when I had to take to the grass, but then we got stuck in fourth gear,” Charlie explained.

Also out of contention had gone Team Viking after Nick Nunn spent 10 laps sat in the gravel awaiting recovery.

Axiametrics hopes were dashed during the second hour with a gear selection problem and so as the half way point was reached, the DespatchBay.com duo of Clutton and Phillips was still out in front, with Philips doing a double stint.

The lead was just over 14 seconds, but JPR UVio continued to run strongly, while the reunited Pitch/Neil Plimmer were another 34 secs back. “Farquini had got us in traffic, but the car is just great,” said Plimmer. “We are back in contention and the car is really nice to drive today too,” Farquini added.

“2Rent Dominos, Trumans, GCI and Track Focused were a lap down, while FNS, Agua Caliente and Greensall Motorsport were two down and rounded off the top 10.

Hart’s next stop had caused concern for both driver and team. “We were almost out of fuel, I just made it in,” he said. As Henry Dawes rejoined he had to swing the car side to side before the fuel picked up and he was safely back up to pace.

With 90 minutes left on the clock though it was all going well for DespatchBay.com. a 4.995 secs lead over JPR UVio , with JPR PLR still third, but Trumans and FNS were in the top six still, but being closed on by 2Rent Dominos.

Both the lead cars pitted for the penultimate time together, which then became a race to rejoin between Phillips and Randaccio. Although Phillips held the narrowest advantages, it was soon clear that all was not well and he was forced to pit again. “I had struggled for pace towards the end of my stint, but it was a rear wheel bearing,” Clutton explained.

With one hour left on the clock JPR UVio and PLR were the only cars on the lead lap, split by 46 secs, with Trumans and 2Rent Dominos contesting the final podium place, just over 21 secs apart.

FNS were heading for their best ever finish in fifth, but had Track Focused threatening.

JPR UVio cruised through the final stint to complete a comfortable win. “Just brilliant!!,” said Farquini. “Eating my words from earlier, but the car was fantastic,” Randaccio added.

Plimmer and Pitch were also delighted to bring their JPR PLR car home second. “We were consistent, level headed and just made sure we didn’t throw it away,” said Pitch. “The late safety car didn’t make a difference to us, but a great team effort,” Plimmer added.

The safety car may not have affected second place, but it did for third, after Richard Webb’s Trumans car was tapped into a spin at Graham Hill Bend from the final restart. “So near,” team mate Kingsnorth concluded, as they dropped to fourth behind 2Rent Dominos.

“We lost our time in the pits, but it’s the first time the team had worked together and we got the misfire back at the end,” said Hart, after 2 Rent Dominos completed the podium. “A very up and down race for us,” added team mate Dawes.

Track Focused settled in fifth despite a few handling issues, while in sixth FNS were able to celebrate their best finish. “It was hard coming here for the first race of the year, but we finished and it feels good,” said Walton.

GCI finished a strong seventh, while Axiametrics nursed their car home in eighth.

Agua Caliente’s Matt Hogg/Rob Perry were ninth and the Greensall Motorsport duo of Paul/Ryan Lewis completed the top 10, despite Ryan’s late spin at Graham Hill Bend. “My theory was great, but the application had room for improvement,” Ryan concluded.

It’s on to Oulton Park for the next round April 13th for another four hours.