Riley Phillips put on a gutsy performance to overcome a three-way fight for the lead to win the Virtual Fun Cup Championship open race at Spa-Francorchamps on Assetto Corsa this past weekend.

Phillips started on pole but instantly found himself in a battle with European FunCup stars Ugo de Wilde and Mathieu Detry, with Detry running wide at Les Combes before the three made contact on the exit of the complex. This would leave Chris Hart in the lead ahead of Mathieu Martins at the end of the opening lap, while David de Saeger lost 3rd after spinning off the road at Stavelot.

Martins and Hart made contact battling for the lead into Blanchimont on Lap 2, dropping the former down to 5th as Vincent Ducluzeau and Philips fought over 2nd place with the latter getting through under brakes at Les Combes the following lap. Detry squeezed past Ducluzeau through the Fanges chicane to claim 3rd place on the same lap and he, along with Phillips, set off after leader Hart who had pulled out a two second advantage at this stage.

Phillips took just over a lap to get onto the tail of Hart as the pair entered a battle for the lead with Detry chasing after them in 3rd place, and Phillips moved to the front after Hart ran wide at Pouhon. Hart forcefully retook the lead through Stavelot, leaving Philips to run wide on the exit and in turn lose 2nd place to Detry. Both drivers were lucky to get away with nose-to-tail contact into La Source on the next lap, but an aggressive bump draft by Phillips allowed them to close back in on Hart. The pressure applied seemed to get to Hart as on the exit of the Bus Stop chicane, he ran wide to briefly give Detry the lead before he dived back up the inside at La Source. With Phillips in tow, the three cars ran together onto the Kemmel straight, but contact put Hart onto the grass and down to 3rd as Detry led with Phillips still under his rear wing.

Detry and Phillips put on an incredible, textbook display of race craft over the next couple of laps, running side by side on multiple occasions in an excellent back and forth battle, but as this happened it only allowed Hart to stay in contention. Eventually, Hart made a big dive into La Source to snatch 2nd place, but after Detry slipped back past further round the lap, Hart ran wide through Pouhon and pirouetted in the middle of the track, leaving Ducluzeau to slip past into a podium position. After putting his foot down to catch up once more, Hart managed to repass Ducluzeau into the Bus Stop but several corners later an incident between the pair left Ducluzeau almost three seconds back and down to 4th place once more.

Shortly afterwards, David de Saeger was able to claim another place from Ducluzeau to pick up 4th, but at this stage the race had calmed down significantly as the laps reeled off towards the finish. Phillips drove without a challenge for the remainder of the race to pick up the race in after an hour of racing, with Detry claiming 2nd place and Hart doing well to recover to the final podium pace. De Saeger claimed 4th place while Ugo de Wilde completed the top 5 after also making a move on Ducluzeau in the closing laps. Clement Seyler finished in 7th place, with former multiple FunCup champion Julian Thomas in 8th and the top 10 rounded out by Jake Little and Piers Stockton.

Credit must go to Riley Phillips for putting together the Virtual Fun Cup series as well as putting the excellent looking Fun Cup Evo 3 mod together for Assetto Corsa!

Scott Woodwiss


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