2014 SEASON REVIEW: MILLTEK SPORT VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP
Veteran Joe Fulbrook beat the young pretenders. Photo: Image Vaults
With an average of 30 cars on the grid for each of the seven action-packed meetings which comprised the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, the championship can truly be said to have come of age this season. And not only was there quantity, there was quality too: seven different drivers took race wins and the outcome of the championship title was not decided until the final corner of the final race, with veteran Joe Fulbrook nipping in to seize the crown by just six points.
It was Fulbrook’s third VW Cup championship win and perhaps his most satisfying, because he went into Donington Park’s final rounds as one of five drivers in with a chance; Joe did not need to win either of the races, but he needed to finish well up the order in both to get the job done and, as several of his rivals found to their cost, that’s not necessarily an easy task.
Joe has remained loyal to the Volkswagen Racing Cup ever since his track debut in 2005 at the wheel of a Bora. He had the crown snatched from his grasp in the 2007 finals but bounced back to win the title in 2008 and ’09 for Warranty Direct Racing. The Bora was retired early in 2013 and replaced with a Golf GTI, with which he won once last season on his way to championship second.
This season the mechanical teething problems which beset Fulbrook’s Golf in its introductory season were largely forgotten and Joe took mid-season wins at Silverstone and Snetterton to establish himself as a title contender. Podium finishes at Oulton Park, Spa and Brands Hatch helped Fulbrook build his tally and third place in the Donington finale was enough to clinch the deal for the Berkshire 43-year-old.
Ironically Joe was unable to take advantage of the champion’s prize, an outing at Hockenheim in the final round of the Scirocco R Cup – a bad back meant he could not race and the 2013 champion, Aaron Mason, deputised.
Aaron’s title defence began well enough with a win in the accident-shortened opening round at Oulton Park, and further wins at Rockingham and Silverstone saw the Scirocco racer on top of the points at mid-season. But it all went wrong for Mason at Spa and Brands Hatch, where he failed to make the podium at all (the first time since 2012 that he had not managed a top three in at least one of a weekend’s races). A win in Round 13 at Donington kept his hopes alive but accident damage in the final meant that he had to settle for championship fourth, albeit with the satisfaction of having won more races – four – than any other driver.
Two remarkable racing rookies finished ahead of Mason in the standings: Lucas Orrock and Stefan Di Resta, Scirocco drivers both. Orrock, 23, came into car racing straight from karting and, after finding his feet with his Vindis-backed and KPM-prepared car, struck podium form in only his fourth race, at Silverstone. After scoring a brace of thirds at Snetterton Lucas scored his maiden win at Spa-Francorchamps – what finer place to do it? – and was denied the double only by a flapping front bumper. Two more second-place finishes, at Brands Hatch and Donington, set the seal on an impressive first year in cars and a deserved runner-up championship finish.
Stefan Di Resta – younger brother of DTM racer Paul – had only slightly more car-racing experience than Orrock (a handful of Knockhill Mini races being about his lot) but like Lucas the Scottish youngster was soon on the pace for the JWB Motorsport team, claiming a new lap record at Rockingham on his way to third place in only his second outing. He won for the first time at Snetterton and took the second race at Spa after Orrock’s bumper troubles, but thereafter could not strike the form necessary to finish on the podium and improve on championship third.
There were three other race winners in 2014:
James Greenway, son of former Vento Challenge racer Frank, who came into the series after a season of success in single-seaters. He won in his AWM-prepared and White Rose-backed Scirocco at the Rockingham meeting to lead the championship but thereafter suffered a series of mechanical problems which conspired to keep him away from the podium until the very end of the year.
David Sutton, who was a top-eight finisher in 2013 in a Team HARD Golf, swapped to the SlideSports squad and a Scirocco for this season and set about quickly notching up some podium finishes. Sutton was uncatchable at Brands Hatch, winning both races in Kent to break his duck and set himself up with an outside shot at the championship title.
Robert Barrable; the Irish rally star came in as a late substitute for the THM Racing squad at Donington Park and, after showing good pace in the opening race, snatched victory from Sutton’s grasp on the last lap of the championship finale.
A total of 43 drivers scored points in 2014, including:
James Walker, the 2012 champion, who returned after winning the Milltek Sport driver-search contest. James’s KPM-prepared Golf GTI was a podium finisher at Spa and he scored in all but one race to end the season seventh overall.
Josh Caygill, who dovetailed his season in an AWM Scirocco with a Scirocco R Cup campaign in Germany. The former bike racer’s best race finish on his way to championship eighth was a fourth-place finish at Rockingham.
Stewart Lines, who after finishing third overall in 2013 with KPM set up his own team, Maximum Motorsport, to run a brace of Sciroccos. The speed was there but the reliability wasn’t, and there were no podium finishes for Stewart this year.
Sam Morgan, the youngest driver in the field at 17, underlined his promise with a third-place finish for KPM at Silverstone and battled through to 10th overall in the championship in his first full season of racing.
Tom Barley and Jack Walker-Tully were the other men to finish on the podium. Tom was second at Rockingham for Team HARD and went on to end the season as the team’s highest-placed finisher, in 11th. Jack was twice second, at Silverstone and Brands, but failed to score in four of his races (and missed Spa) and therefore ended his year 15th overall.