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STOBART’S TAKE LATE WIN Numbers were down a little for Fun Cup’s first visit to Brands Hatch since 2019, one notable absentee being We Have No Idea, as Paul Calladine had clashing commitments due to his Alpaca’s being sheared!

Stobart Sports Colin Kingsnorth and Agua Caliente’s Paul Turner shared the front row and it was Kingsnorth that led the pack through Paddock Hill from the start.

Sam Smeeth was soon into second for Greensall’s, with Kaizen’s Ravi Ramyead taking Turner for third on lap two. But it was soon all change, with Smeeth in charge a lap later, from Ramyead, Kingsnorth, Turner, Viking’s Mark Holme and Harry Mailer in a second Olympian backed car.

Mailer was charging and had took Kingsnorth for third into Clearways on lap six, before threatening Ramyead’s second. But he suddenly slowed and headed for the pits, “I just lost drive, I think it was the throttle cable, but it’s a lovely car to drive,” said Mailer.

But Nigel Greensall was charging through the order for CCS Media and was into the top six by the end of lap eight. Turner had taken Kingsnorth a lap earlier, but Greensall ousted them both to hold third on lap10.

Ramyead had retained second until Greensall challenged into Clearways again on lap 12. They were side by side through Paddock, before Greensall finally made it by into Graham Hill Bend.

As the lead pair started to get away, Ramyead became the head of a seven-car train for third, firstly losing out to Turner and then Kingsnorth, but UVio Hofmann’s Lotus’ Fabio Randaccio had taken all three and set about catching Smeeth and Greensall.

Teddy Wilson started to work his way through for Track Focused and had a couple of exchanges with Kingsnorth for fourth before the safety car appeared for the first time, 29 laps in with Ramyead off at Paddock.

“I had a touch with Harry earlier, was then two abreast through Paddock, lost the rear and was into the gravel, with Ben Pitch’s PLR car coming right for me,” Ramyead explained.

“It was close, I thought I was going to collect Martin Gibson too,” Pitch replied.

“As soon as they told me that the safety car was out and Nigel was next behind me, I though Oh no,” Smeeth admitted.

Lap 33 and it was green again and the lead trio went clear again, running nose to tail, with Wilson managing distance the rest for fourth.

There were a few exchanges at the front as Randaccio just sat close behind and observed. But Wilson was unable to close from fourth and was struggling to stay clear of the huge chasing pack. “I was pushing hard but couldn’t get away, we didn’t have the power and every pass I made was under braking,” Wilson explained.

 But on lap 47 Randaccio suddenly led after the lead pair touched at Druids. “I thought I had given Sam space earlier and he went by as I had no grip, but then we both ran wide at Druids and interlocked wheels,” Greensall explained.

“I just laughed my socks off when that happened, I wasn’t trying not to get involved,” Randaccio replied.

First pitstops soon followed with Kingsnorth and Holme first in, followed by Martin Gibson in from fifth for MJ Tec Gti.

Most of the field came in a couple of laps later, but UVio had hit the front with Farquini, from GCI’s Craig Butterworth after a sterling post safety car stint from Ian Wood. “I was t-boned early on at Paddock and lost time, but was really on it after that and made up places after the safety car,” Wood explained.

Nick Nunn was third for Viking, closely followed by Agua Caliente’s Rob Croydon and Olympian debutant Steve Lake, with Stobart’s Richard Webb rounding off the top six.

But it was during the second hour that the dramas began to unfold. Agua Caliente were out of the running, “we didn’t quite have the right set up as we found it hard to make places, losing time turning in and making wider exits,” said Croydon, who had only just handed the car back to Turner when the driveshaft went as he pulled away.

Leaders UVio were in trouble too. “We lost drive, it started at Druids and I had to park it at Graham Hill as the wheel bearing went and snapped the end off the driveshaft,” Farquini explained.

So at half distance it was Stobart’s Richard Webb just 0.374 secs ahead of GCI’s Wood, with MJ Tec’s Gibson just keeping PLR’s Pitch at bay for fourth. Vlad Vassiliev was fifth for EDF Vapeclub and in sixth was Olympian’s Kristian Rose, while Viking’s Nunn was the last car still on the lead lap in seventh.

It was becoming a duel between GCI and Stobart’s and with one hour and one last pitstop to go Wood was just over 17 secs up on Kingsnorth, with Pitch and Gibson still on the lead lap, followed by Olympian’s Lake and Vapeclub EDF’s Vassiliev, both one lap down.

Gibson and Lake were the first of the top six to make their final stops, as Scott Jeffs and Rose took over.

With about 30 minutes on the clock Vassiliev, Kingsnorth and seventh placed Holme pitted together, as Matt Dorkings, Webb and Nunn jumped into the take their cars to flag, while both GCI and PLR came in a couple of minutes later.

Butterworth was in control and had a 1.7 secs lead over Webb, with Neil Plimmer 25 secs down in third for PLR. After taking second place in very race this season, Butterworth was holding the gap when he came across the Smeeth and Greensall cars, both a number of laps off the lead.

“Sam just punted me hard in the rear into Clearways, it turned me around but luckily not into the gravel and was just missed by Richard as he took the lead and Nigel too,” Butterworth explained.

GCI now in second but over five seconds down but they were also into the final 10 minutes of the race.

The gap came down and down, “I was just back into the tow with one lap left, two more and we would have had a chance.” Butterworth concluded, after yet another second despite dominating the second half.

So it was victory number two for Stobart’s Kingsnorth and Webb, with PLR’s Plimmer/Pitch and MJ Tec’s Gibson/Jeffs both comfortable in third and fourth. “We were struggling for straightline speed and couldn’t even pass in the draft,” said Plimmer. “Our car was really good but just found it mentally tiring though,” Jeffs added.

Olympian’s Chris Dovell/Rose/Lake were a lap down in fifth with Vapeclub EDF’s Vassiliev/Dorkings rounding off the top six.

CCS Media’s Greensall/Alan Honarmand/Bob Tomlinson came home seventh, with Viking’s Holme/Nunn seventh. The Smeeth family were ninth, receiving a 60 secs penalty for the incident with Butterworth, while Track Focused’s Wilson/Mike McCollum/Neil Smith were the rest of the top 10.

Next round Snetterton on July 23rd.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, June 27th 2022