BRANDS HATCH BECKONS VW CUP RACERS
Henry Gilbert on his way to a podium at Spa. Photo: Image Vaults
The challenging Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit plays host to the latest rounds of the APR Volkswagen Racing Cup on Sunday (11 Aug) – races which could prove crucial to the outcome of the championship. With only October’s Donington Park rounds remaining on the calendar following the double header in Kent, Brands Hatch offers points leader Aaron Mason a chance to clinch the drivers title with two races in hand.
Doncaster’s Mason is 40 points clear of his closest challenger, Joe Fulbrook, and 100 ahead of Phil House currently – if Aaron can stretch his lead over Fulbrook to 95 points on Sunday, the coveted crown could be his. The maths are complicated by championship fourth-place man House having not yet played his points-doubling Joker card; Mason would need to be at least 139 points ahead of House also.
Mason has won four of the eight races in his AWM/Warranty Direct Scirocco: one each at Oulton Park and Rockingham and two at Silverstone. His team-mate Fulbrook has just the one victory under his belt, scored at Rockingham in his Golf GTI, while Scirocco man House was the victor of one of the Snetterton races.
Last time out, at Spa-Francorchamps, it was the turn of KPM Scirocco team-mates Martin Depper and Stewart Lines to share the spoils. After a season knocking on the door of success, they dominated proceedings in Belgium. Ross Wylie, a winner at Oulton and at Snetterton in his SlideSports Scirocco, had to miss the Spa rounds but will be back this weekend and looking to get his title bid back on course.
One of the championship’s youngster competitors, 17-year-old Henry Gilbert, celebrated his maiden VW Cup podium finish at Spa after a season of toil by his family team to balance and perfect his Mk VI Golf GTI. “We’ve been trying for the podium all year – and doing everything yourself as a family team is a lot harder,” says Henry. “I think the key to it at Spa was working really hard on the set-up in testing and making it a lot better than it had been at Silverstone and Rockingham. I now have the Golf handling more how I like it but there’s still loads more to come.
“I know the Brands Grand Prix circuit quite well – I won three out of my four Mini Challenge races there. It’s a good track, and it should suit the Golf, especially the Indy section. The quicker corners of the Grand Prix circuit might suit the Sciroccos better, though. I’m hoping for the podium again, but it will be hard.”
The VW Cup podium has been a busy place this season with 10 different drivers on its steps. In addition to Gilbert, another recent visitor is David Sutton, who will be joined in the Team HARD Golf GTI squad this weekend by Kent driver Tom Barley, talented Scottish Legends racer Kieran Gallagher, Graham Perkins and Sam Morgan. After just missing out on a podium finish at Spa, Barley will be hoping for a little home-track advantage. Glasgow-based Gallagher is returning to the team after an enjoyable maiden Golf outing at Spa last month.
Another driver making strong progress is ex-bike racer Josh Caygill, who has broken into the championship top 10 thanks to his consistency and growing speed in his AWM/Warranty Direct Golf.
The 30-plus car field for Brands looks set to welcome several newcomers, including former Clio Cup and Britcar racer Chris Panayiotou in a KPM-run Golf GTI, and Richard Levett, the 26-year-old race-rookie younger brother of truck racer Chris. Richard is expected to make his debut in a JWB Motorsport Mk VI Golf GTI, while Nick Beaumont is slated to drive the senior Levett’s Scirocco, as he did at Spa.