PHILLIPS TAKES FIRST UK VIRTUAL FUNCUP WIN AT ANGLESEY


Riley Phillips stamped his authority on the Virtual FunCup Series after he claimed victory at the latest round of the series at Anglesey.

Pole position in qualifying went to Richard Towler with Jay Shepherd alongside him, but just before the start, he decided to stick true to the real-life rules in FunCup where the winner of the previous race starts from the back of the grid, leaving Shepherd effectively on pole in his place. Shepherd held the lead through the first corner, but attention from Phillips heading into The Banking saw them bump wheels, leaving Stockton to drive clean around the outside and take the lead. Behind them, chaos was ensuing as several cars got together in the first two turns, severely shaking up the order outside the top 6.

This left Stockton, Shepherd, Phillips and Chris Hart as the leading quartet, but Shepherd and Phillips weren’t quite finished with each other. Phillips attempted an outside move through the first part of Rocket, but Shepherd simply showed him the grass which only allowed Hart to take advantage and steal 3rd place as a result. Hart then elbowed Shepherd wide a couple of corners later to snatch 2nd, but ended up on the grass himself leaving Phillips to inherit 2nd place after all. Chris Walton made his bid to claim a place from Shepherd too, albeit found himself running deep into Rocket as a result. All of these had only allowed Stockton to build a lead of almost two seconds while further down the order, Towler was up to 11th after starting at the back of the grid.

Shepherd caught up to Hart once again and re-passed him for third into Bus Stop, but Hart managed to stay with him for the next couple of laps and tried to pounce at Rocket when Shepherd ran wide, but the pair ended up clattering into each other again leaving Hart almost taking to the grass. Up at the front, quick laps from Phillips had helped him sail onto the tail of leader Stockton and attacked at the hairpin for the lead. While Stockton defended the first attempt, resulting in Phillips sliding wide in his efforts to rebound, consistent pressure and a mistake at Rocket forced Stockton to lose the lead, giving Phillips the chance to run away at the front. Shepherd was now his next adversary and remained on his tail for the next few minutes hoping to create an opportunity, which initially came outside at The Hairpin to no avail.

Meanwhile, Towler had been making more steady progress through the field. After working his way into 6th place at Julian Thomas’ expense, he slowly but surely chipped away at the gap to Ed Bridle in front of him until eventually sliding past at The Hairpin to move into the top 5. His next target was Hart in 4th and to catch him, Towler spent the best part of almost 20 minutes closing down the gap, but eventually dived up the inside at Rocket to steal the place. Not content with losing out that easy, an optimistic comeback from Hart left the former FunCup champion spinning a couple of corners later after making contact heading into Peel. By the time he recovered, Towler was more than 5 seconds up the road.

Hart’s fortunes didn’t get much better as a few minutes later, a spin at Church allowed Bridle through into 5th and immediately put him under pressure from another fellow Fun Cup champion in Julian Thomas with less than 10 minutes to go. As Towler had done before, Thomas closed in for a potential move heading to the Rocket complex but in his rapid closing speed caused him to clip the rear of Hart’s car and leaving him spinning across the grass. Thomas courteously waited for Hart to rejoin and keep the position, with both drivers maintaining their places to the flag. As for the leader, Phillips was simply in a class of his own and remained unchallenged for virtually the entire race to clinch his first victory in the UK Virtual FunCup, with Stockton and Shepherd joining him on the podium and Towler putting in a stellar effort to only finish just over a second away in 4th after starting from the back.

Ed Bridle completed the top 5, while behind both Hart and Thomas were Walton, Worthington and Trossel in the final top 10 placings.

Scott Woodwiss