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It was a busy start to the penultimate meeting of the year, with Ted Bradbury leading the way for JPR 195 into Redgate, from Olympian’s Chris Dovell and GCI’s Ian Wood. But Wood was into second at the chicane, as Greenheath’s Paul Turner, UVio/Hofmann’s Fabio Randaccio and JPR 110’s Adam Bessell formed the initial top six.

Bradbury was flying but there was plenty of action behind, with Randaccio into third at the chicane, with Bessell following, as Dovell lost out.

“It got a bit scrappy at the start and I seemed to get squeezed out a bit,” Wood admitted.

Bradbury’s lead continued to grow, but having taken third at Coppice, Randaccio was second before the end of lap three, with Bessell following again a lap later, as Wood and Turner looked on.

But with Mike Devlin in the gravel at the chicane, the safety car was out after seven laps, before going green two laps later, with Randaccio right with Bradbury as he attempted to rebuild his lead.

“I was away from the start, but then the safety car brought him into the tow. But we had to back off a little to try and keep cool,” Bradbury explained.

Axiametrics/GRD’s Simon Rudd was up to fifth too at McLeans, before third place became a three-car train, with Rudd, heading Bessell and Wood.

With Bradbury and Randaccio working together, they started to share the lead and pulled a sizeable gap over the rest, with Rudd in a solitary third, but in the fight for fourth Bessell and Wood continued to alternate, with Turner and PLR’s Ben Pitch in the tow too.

“I was all on my own, I could see them but couldn’t close at all,” Rudd admitted.

The duel for the lead continued until the first pitstop window when they both pitted together, with Rudd having stopped a few laps earlier, leaving MJ Tec’s Will Abraham pitting from third.

Farquini had the lead for UVio/Hofmann’s up to the hour mark, from Axiametrics’ Chis Weatherill, Ash Woodman for JPR 195, GCI’s Craig Butterworth, Olympian’s Kristian Rose and Greenheath’s Gary Bate. But the safety car had been out again a few laps earlier with Jason Cheetham’s Easy2Reach car in the Old Hairpin gravel.

With Woodman falling down the order and making an unplanned stop, Weatherill was under pressure at the head of a four-car battle for second, with Rose, Butterworth and Bate.

But after 46 laps it was all change, as Rose was into second from Butterworth and Bate, while Weatherill had dropped to fifth and had MJ Tec’s Scott Jeffs closing in.

“A car in front clipped a bollard and it hit me. A warning light came on and I thought the radiator had gone, but as I checked I was out of the tow and couldn’t get back,” Weatherill explained.

At halfway only UVio and Olympian were on the lead due to the stops sequence, but penalties were playing their past too. GCI were third, from MJ Tec, but Viking/Ursus Capital had climbed to fifth, after Axiametrics served a penalty.

Greenheath were down to seventh, “Paul got a drive through for ignoring track limits, but I had to serve it,” said Bate. “We were going well until the lead came off the alternator, the voltage fell and I was stuck in fifth gear,”said PLR’s Neil Plimmer.

“I had to serve a penalty too, I thought Paul would be so angry that I had done it, then I found out it was him!”  said Wendy Ellis-Smith, as Fuelled Up were in the top 10 too.

Riley Phillips had to serve a penalty to for Rose, but then got held up rejoining, as the EDF 212 car had expired at the end of the pitlane.

Any hopes MJ Tec had of staying in the top six were dashed after a collision with Easy2Reach’s Tom Greensall at McLeans, but as the final hour started it was between UVio, Olympian and GCI, as Viking/Ursus had gone a lap down in fourth, with Axiametrics and Greenheath the rest of the top six, as Team Ratters, Fuelled Up, PLR and Team 3 completed the top 10.

From the final stops Farquini still lead but Phillips was closing, with GCI still on the lead lap too. Axiametrics had got ahead of Viking/Ursus for fourth, but Team Ratters hope of a top six ended when John Ratcliff managed to limp back to the pits with the rear suspension broken. “It broke when I braked at the last corner, but we were lucky it was the pitstop window,” said David.

Plimmer had pulled off when the PLR car lost it’s auxiliary belt and had to retire. The JPR 195 suffered a clutch failure for Will Chadwick.

With four minutes left on the clock Bate was off in the gravel at the chicane, but Phillips continued to close on Farquini for the lead and was alongside through McLeans three laps from home.

Farquini was just ahead as they started lap 160, but Phillips went down the inside at Redgate, before they were side by side down the Craner Curves.

Phillips was through at the Old Hairpin but they remained nose to tail for a while until Farquini slowed. “It was something electrical, it wouldn’t rev,” he said, after parking up just after the flag.

“I knew it was going to be a fight, but we got there,” said Phillips, after taking victory by 11.922 secs, bosting Olympian’s title hopes. “I really shouldn’t under estimate Riley, but I didn’t think he would do it this time,” admitted team mate Dovell.

GCI ‘s Wood/Butterworth went a lap down near the end, but retained a clear third, while Neil Burroughs brought the Axiametrics car home fourth.

Team Viking/Ursus Capital were fifth with Colin Kingsnorth/Mark Holme, “we had a good day, but couldn’t quite get to grips with the lead pack,” said Holme.

Despite their late problem David Ratcliff brought Team Ratters home to complete the top six, while the Team Fuelled Up trio had a day to remember taking seventh for Paul Taylor with Wendy and Paul Ellis-Smith.

Team 3’s Andy Bennett/John Perrott/David Postins, EDF’s Rob Croydon/Simon Coles and Team Seeds Mike Devlin/Matt Hogg rounded off the top10.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, September 6th 2023