Herbie rides again at Rockingham with championship leader Steve Chaplin. Photo:

Seventeen-year-old single-seater racer Howard Fuller is to make his debut in the Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants next weekend (17/18 July). The Surrey-based driver will be swapping his 300bhp Formula Palmer Audi machine for a RacingLine-run Golf GTI in the Rockingham rounds of the championship.

It’s a return to his racing roots for Howard, a motorsport student at Brooklands College – he cut his circuit-racing teeth in the BRSCC T-Cars racing series at the age of 14. “T-Cars was superb training and although I’m having a fantastic time in FPA I’m really interested in racing in saloons again,” says Howard. “As I’ve never raced at Rockingham before, this was an ideal opportunity. I was blown away when I tested the Golf – I wasn’t expecting it to be so quick and so good. I’m very impressed by the whole set-up.”

Fuller will not be the only newcomer to the Volkswagen grid next weekend as the championship continues to attract experienced hands and novices, like 40-year-old computer company boss Martyn Walsh, who will make his track debut at the wheel of an AWM-prepared Golf GTI.

After four races of the 2010 season – and four different winners – the Volkswagen Racing Cup with Fuchs Lubricants is proving even more competitive and unpredictable this season than ever during the 10-year history of the championship.

Ironically it is a driver who has yet to win a race this season who leads the combatants to Rockingham: he is Steve Chaplin, last year’s championship runner-up in the ‘Herbie’-liveried Beetle and the man who scored his maiden race wins at ‘The Rock’ last year. Thanks to podium finishes in every round the former motorcycle racer from Gloucestershire has built an 18-point lead.

Didge Dziurzynski won the opening round at Oulton Park at Easter, and then finished second to Peter Felix in round two, but the Dorset-based driver suffered all sorts of problems in the double header at Zandvoort in May and saw his championship lead evaporate.

Felix’s Oulton victory was his first in the Volkswagen Racing Cup, as was Aaron Mason’s at Zandvoort, and they – Golf GTI drivers both – will be out to add to their tally at Rockingham. Behind them there is a large queue forming of potential race winners, not least among them Golf GTI pilots Sam Edwards, James Walker (a winner at Rockingham in ’08) and Tim Snaylam, and Scirocco drivers Kieran Griffin and Mike Kurton.

Fuller will not be the youngest on the grid – that honour goes to 16-year-old Zoe Wenham: she made a promising championship debut at Zandvoort in the KPM Racing Polo and now, GCSEs behind her and on a circuit she knows, will be intent on climbing through the field.

Rockingham will also mark the seasonal debut of Rockingham instructor and Northampton resident Doug Ross and his faithful Polo GTI.

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