DISABLED DRIVERS TO RACE IN VW CUP
The Volkswagen Racing Cup is set to break new ground in 2010 as two drivers with disabilities join the grid. Phil Morris and Simon Andrews will race specially adapted Golf GTIs in the Fuchs Lubricants-backed championship – and both men cannot wait to get into action for their maiden races.
Phil, who lost a leg after a motorcycle accident, and wheelchair user Simon have both had to prove to UK motorsport's governing body, the MSA, their fitness to compete. It's been a sometimes tortuous process but each has now passed the ARDS test and has earned his track licence.
Their Golfs have DSG semi-automatic gearboxes with steering wheel-mounted gearchange paddles. Phil's has specially adapted foot pedals while Simon's additionally features a hand-operated throttle and brake. Much of the track preparation work was completed by RacingLine.
Congleton-based Phil, 50, has owned his Golf for three years and has used it for track days. "I've had great fun with it, but I wanted to take it further, so I started to check things out with the MSA," he said. "I had to prove that in the event of an accident that I could quickly evacuate the car. I did that and they cleared me to take the ARDS test; I passed and now I'm ready to race at Oulton Park on 5 April for the first time.
"I'm very much a complete yellow-badge/black-cross novice and at 50 I'm one of the oldest-ever novices. I'm racing for fun." Morris is Purchasing Manager for championship title sponsor Fuchs UK, and his Golf will carry the oil firm's colours.
Hampshire-based Andrews, 31, has used a wheelchair for 11 years, since his pedal cycle was in collision with a truck. It's been a three-year battle for him to reach his goal of a place on the Racing Cup grid.
"I've had to be very persistent," said the property developer from Liphook. "I've had to go before the MSA's medical panel a number of times, and had to prove I can escape a car in less than 10 seconds. Last year they permitted me to go sprinting in my Golf, and that all went well, so here I am, the first paraplegic to race in the VW Cup.
"I'm planning to do most of the routine maintenance myself, and to get the car to the circuits, and then RacingLine will help me at the track. I'm really looking forward to it, and to racing against Phil and the other drivers."
RacingLine's Melissa Wright paid tribute to the tenacity shown by Andrews and Morris: "Motorsport is difficult enough to get into, but Simon and Phil have shown true grit to overcome their problems and get on to the grid. The Golf GTI with DSG gearbox is an ideal track machine for a driver with a disability, and I'm sure that both of them are going to have a great time in the championship.
"We have loved developing these cars with the guys and making sure that the specifications were just perfect for their requirements. We have been as apprehensive as them over the last few months while they went through the various procedures required for them to get their licences.