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Having led for 87 of the 175 laps on Silverstone’s International Circuit, defending Fun Cup Endurance Champions UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus’ Farquini Deott and Fabio Randaccio once again proved unbeatable.

GC1 Racing’s Ian Wood and PLR’s Ben Pitch shared the front row of the grid and went head to head into Abbey on the opening lap. “I lost out into that first corner, but it was my first Fun Cup start and from pole. So I was determined to lead that first lap and got it back into Stowe,” Wood explained.

Pitch, Kaizen Motorsports Ravi Ramyead, Stobart’s Colin Kingsnorth, CCS’s Nigel Greensall and Viking’s Nick Nunn were the initial top six, but Greensall was soon at the front duelling with Sam Smeeth in the Greensall Motorsport car.

Wood was staying with the lead duo as Pitch went solo in fourth, but UVio Hofmann’s Farquini was into fifth by lap five and closing.

Behind them it was tremendous six-car battle with Agua Caliente’s Paul Turner, Nunn, Kingsnorth, MJ Tec’s Martin Gibson, RAW Tachosys’ Paul Rivett and Vapeclub EFF’s Vlad Vassiliev all in contention.

Turner gradually got eased out as Rivett and Nunn hit the front of the train, before Rivett made a slight break on lap nine. “After a few exchanges no one was working together, so I decided to have scrap and got a gap for a while,” Rivett explained.

Back at the front Greensall and Smeeth continued in close formation, with Greensall leading for the mostpart. “I couldn’t resist having a go at Nigel though, but he was so fast I mainly decided to stay behind him,” said Sam.

But suddenly on lap 35 Smeeth was back in front of Greensall with over five seconds in hand. “I was lapping another car and they hit me as we were coming onto the Hanger Straight and I spun,” said Greensall.

Farquini’s charge had taken him ahead of Pitch for fourth into Abbey on lap 13, but it took another 19 laps to take Wood into Club for third.

When the Greensall and CCS cars pitted, Farquini had one lap in front before handing to Fabio Randaccio too, which left Craig Butterworth back in front for GCI.

“It was great, super consistency with 0.10 secs every lap, so a real pleasure,” said Butterworth.

At the end of the first hour GCI had a 5.266 secs lead over UVio/Hofmann’s Lotus, but PLR’s Neil Plimmer was only a fraction behind in fourth.

Scott Jeffs was running fifth for MJ Tec, but as he came passed the pits he appeared to have an exhaust or engine problem, which then cleared again.

Viking’s Mark Holme was closing on Jeffs, while in seventh Team Olympian’s debutant Haytham Qarajouli had taken over from Chris Dovell and was the final runner on the lead lap in seventh.

“I had a consistent stint but needed to work with MJ Tec and then Olympian caught us,” said Holme.

Stobart’s Richard Webb, Agua Caliente’s Rob Croydon and CCS’s Bob Tomlinson were the rest of the top 10, but Greenheath’s Jonathan Mitchell was closing in too.

The lead pair had made it into a personal though duel with Butterworth leading the way until they both pitted on lap 67.

Wood emerged with GCI’s lead intact and 1.7 secs in front of UVio/Hofmann’s Farquini, with PLR, MJ Tec, Olympian and Viking the rest of the top six, with Agua Caliente, Greenheath and Stobart’s on the lead lap too.

Farquini had the lead from lap 74 but at half distance the gap to GCI was still only 0.280 secs, but as storming stint from Olympian’s Kristian Rose had brought them up to third, from MJ Tec, PLR and Team Viking.

During the third hour the gaps began to open and as Farquini pitted for the third time Randaccio rejoined over three seconds ahead of Butterworth, before another 18 secs gap to third placed MJ Tec, who still had PLR threatening.

UVio/Hofmann’s were clearly in charge and as they headed into the final hour the gap was up to 15.2 secs over the equally impressive GCI.

PLR had made it into third, from Olympian and Team Viking, with Greenheath, Vapeclub EDF, Stobart’s and Agua Caliente secure in the top 10.

There was a late scare in the penultimate stint for GCI when Wood clipped Viking’s Nunn and spun, but for UVio Hofmann’s Lotus it was a dominant start to the season and the defence of their title.

“The usual plan of go fast and don’t crash worked again,” said Randaccio after taking the flag almost a minute clear.

For GCI second place meant a first podium finish for the team. “Relief that it’s got the monkey off our back, but we’re still aiming for that first win and starting with Ian certainly worked well,” Butterworth replied.

There was no glory for MJ Tec however. “We lost power sometimes, so a slight drama,” said Gibson, before the clutch let go inside the final 15 minutes, leaving Jeffs to retire to the pits.

Olympian completed the podium but PLR’s Plimmer wasn’t far behind. “The exhaust was coming away from the manifold at the end, but I was concentrating more on where Neil was.” Rose admitted.

“I really enjoyed that but was on the receiving end of some drama’s with backmarkers,” admitted Qarajouli.

Greenheath’s Gary Bate and debutant Jonathan Mitchell finished strongly to secure fifth, a lap down. “It took time for me to get back in the tow in that first stint, but perfect after that,” said Bate. “It was far more competitive than I had expected, but we just needed a safety car to get us back in there,” Mitchell added.

Despite a few bumps, scrapes and spins, Team Viking retained sixth. “We lost some time on one of the stops and ran too much in clear air,” said Holme. “I got hit at Stowe and then had a touch with GCI too, Nunn added.

Vapeclub EDF’s Vassiliev and Matt Dorkings were a solid seventh, from Stobart Sport’s Kingsnorth/Webb, Kaizen Motorsports’ Ramyead, Richard Just and Riley Phillips and CCS’s Greensall/Tomlinson/ Alan Honarmand. “Really pleased with that and our new drivers and team,” Phillips concluded.

In the Masters Class it was PLR victorious from Greenheath, Stobart Sport and CCS Media.

Next stop Oulton Park, April 2nd.

Published by Peter Scherer for Fun Cup Endurance, March 21st 2022