2013 SEASON REVIEW: APR VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP
The 2013 edition of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup was the most successful in the championship’s 14-season history, with an average of 27 cars on the grid at each of the seven meetings, seven different race winners and a championship battle which went down to the wire. Aaron Mason was the richly deserving champion, the Doncaster driver collecting an impressive five race wins from 14.
Mason’s track career started in the VW Cup in 2009 and he’s been winning races since 2010, but until this season he had never finished higher than third in the championship standings. All that changed with the development for 2013 of a Scirocco R by Aaron’s AWM/Warranty Direct team which won on its debut at Oulton Park, collected a further win and a third at Rockingham and then a double-top at Silverstone to give Mason a handsome championship lead which he carried all the way to the Donington Park finale, where he also won. Mason’s 2013 victory haul brings his career tally to 16 wins, which is two more than any other driver has achieved in the VW Cup.
Aaron’s prize was an outing at Hockenheim in the final round of the Scirocco R Cup, where he finished an impressive 14th, sandwiched between touring car legends Frank Biela and Laurent Aiello.
Mason’s AWM/Warranty Direct team-mate Joe Fulbrook ran him closest on points, a testament to Joe’s ability to keep calm and carry on scoring despite the problems which might be afflicting him. Those troubles began immediately pre-season, when he crashed his newly built Golf GTI in testing… The Berkshire racer had to start the year in his trusty old Bora, the car which had carried him to 13 race wins and two championship titles between 2005 and ’12. Its replacement proved occasionally very rapid – as at Rockingham, where it carried Joe to victory in race two – but often mechanically troublesome. The team were on top of it by Donington, Joe returning to the podium for the first time since his Rockingham win.
Ross Wylie was the season’s other consistent race winner. The 21-year-old from Dumfries, whose experience prior to this season was limited to karting and Mini racing at Knockhill, impressed with a debut win at Oulton Park in the SlideSports Scirocco and went on to show considerable speed everywhere but not a lot of mechanical luck; he won again at Snetterton and at Donington, but retirements and missing the Spa rounds hurt his title chances – sixth overall was poor reward for his efforts.
Among the season’s other race winners were KPM Scirocco team-mates Stewart Lines and Martin Depper with their Sciroccos. After threatening good things in the opening eight races they came on strong at Spa-Francorchamps and took a win and a second apiece. Martin went on to secure another win (at Brands Hatch) and a second, with Stewart taking third three times to secure third place overall in the championship.
Phil House, the 2004 and ’05 Champion, returned with a Scirocco after several seasons racing other saloons and was not slow in hitting his stride. After finishing on the podium at Rockingham and Silverstone he notched up a victory at Snetterton and went on to claim fifth overall, just behind Depper.
Nick Beaumont shone on his rare outings in the JWB Motorsport Scirocco usually driven by Chris Levett; mechanical problems cost him a victory at Spa but he made up for that disappointment with a pole, a win and a new lap record at Brands Hatch.
There were a total of 42 points-scorers in the championship in 2013, and worthy of special mention for their efforts are these regulars and semi-regulars:
Henry Gilbert: After making his championship debut in 2012 as a 16-year-old, Henry returned with a Mk VI Golf fielded by the family team. They missed the season opener and took some time to get to grips with the car, but everything came together at Spa, where Henry drove brilliantly to claim his maiden podium. Championship seventh.
David Sutton: the Team HARD Scholarship winner enjoyed a great debut season of tin-top racing and was fast but mechanically unlucky on his way to championship eighth. Third place at Snetterton was David’s results highlight.
Josh Caygill: the season’s top rookie. Josh switched to car-racing after success (and broken bones) in motorcycle racing and was soon a competitive prospect in the AWM/Warranty Direct Golf GTI. His best result on the way to ninth overall in the championship was sixth place at Spa.
Kieran Griffin: contested every round and was rewarded with a championship top-10 placing for his JWB Motorsport-prepared Scirocco. Eighth place at Snetterton was his best placing.
Tom Barley: Another of Team HARD’s championship newcomers, the historic saloons racer quickly adapted to life in the VW Cup and missed out on top-10 overall placing only by dint of his three non-finishes.
Philip Morris: An eighth-place finish at Oulton Park promised much, but alas was Philip’s seasonal highlight. Nonetheless he scored in every race up to a nasty penultimate-round accident in his KPM Golf.
Simon Tomlinson: Like Morris, he found Donington Park an unforgiving place – up until his final-round crash Simon had been on course for a full house of points finishes in the AWM/Warranty Direct Golf.
Alex & Didge Dziurzynski: The brothers returned with their classic Scirocco and Mk II Golf and proved that there’s plenty of life left in them, both ending the season in the top 20 despite missing three meetings.
Robin Riley: Abandoned his Beetle for a Scirocco for 2013 and was rewarded with a best race finish of 11th, at Snetterton. Scored points in every race he started.
David Fairbrother: If there was bad luck being dished out, David was in line to receive it. Accidents punctuated his season in the SlideSports Scirocco; his highlight was 10th at Oulton Park.
Chris Levett: Lent his Scirocco to Nick Beaumont for part of the year but went well when he did compete and the machinery permitted. Qualified third at Rockingham; fourth was his best race finish, at Donington.
Jack Walker-Tulley: Followed up his promising Cup debut of 2012 with some pacey showings, like his Snetterton fifth. Missed too many races to get into the swing of making the top 10 regularly, though.
Sam Morgan: joined the championship as soon as he was old enough, racing for the first time at Snetterton a few days after his 16th birthday. A switch from Team HARD to KPM at year’s end provided his best result, sixth at Donington.
Graham Perkins: An impressive debut season of racing from rookie Perkins, who despite his inexperience more than held his own within Team HARD.
Paul Dehadray: His seasonal highlight was 13th place for JWB at Oulton Park, and he ended the year four points ahead of his JWB running mate Mark Clynes, who made the top 15 at Brands Hatch.
Simon Andrews: An honourable mention for stalwart campaigner Simon, who was kept out of the season’s early races by illness. The wheelchair-bound racer bounced back to form from Spa onwards, however, and showed he had lost none of his verve.
Dave Garnsworthy: Caddy van man Dave came into the championship as a rookie and learned a lot about racing and how to tame electronic gremlins on his way to a respectable championship placing.