SEASON REVIEW: FUN CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2012 season was, without doubt, the closest and most successful year to date, for the Fun Cup Championship. With over 490 hundred registered drivers, around 80 drivers competing at each race and grids topping over 25 cars, it has to be the most well subscribed championship in the UK.
The season’s seven rounds were hosted at some of the UK’s most prestigious circuits; Donington Park, Croft, Snetterton 200, Brands Hatch, Anglesey and Oulton Park. In addition, many UK teams competed at the world Famous Spa 3000 KM event (previously known as the Spa 25 hour), where the starting grid consisted of over 80 Fun Cup cars from across Europe. The icing on the cake was the season finale; a 12-hour day into night European Cup round, at Snetterton 300.
Races lasted from anywhere between 4 and 12 hours, with anything from 2 to 6 drivers in a team. The amount of track time drivers enjoyed for their money, ensured that the usual mixture of racers were attracted to the championship; a huge range of drivers, from complete novices to championship winners, sportscar racers and ex-BTCC drivers filled grids.
For the novice, the amount of track time ensured that their race craft developed far faster than it would in any sprint races and for the experienced racer, the competition was fierce. The petrol class boasted 4 different winners from 7 races.
A major change for the 2012 championship was the introduction of the sequential gearbox for the petrol cars. The TDI class was small, with over 20 plus petrol sequentials dominating each round.
Paul Rose, Championship Director, said, “The new sequential box really brought the championship to life this year. It transforms the whole feel of the car. You can have so much fun with the car; it is just like a big kart. It’s real racing”.
The overall champions were the unstoppable JPR/Racelogic in the petrol sequential 101 car. The trio of drivers included V-box founder Julian Thomas, racing veteran Nigel Greensall and ex-Ginetta G50 racer, Joachim Ritter. They took 5 out of 7 victories, set 3 fastest laps and finished every race.
The TDI champions, for the first time, were Eco Racing. The team consisted of a mixture of Paul Abraham, Jason Simon, Charlie Burt, Pat Blakeney and Tom Mills. They snatched the title from 2011 winners Team Honeywell, by just 1 point.
The season kicked off at Donington Park, with a huge 28-car grid and a 5-hour race. The JPR “arrive and drive” team of Scott Fitzgerald, Ben Pitch and Chris Randall, took the overall victory in a TDI. Meanwhile, Team O’BR set the standard in the petrol class to take the honours.
The next round was a 5-hour race at Croft. The battle at the front was tense, with Honeywell in the lead and Greensall chasing them down by 2 seconds a lap. However, with one lap to go, he uncharacteristically clipped the tyre barrier at the complex, which bent the steering and launched him into the tyre wall. His team watched him painfully limp home to finish 2nd overall and 1st in the petrol class. The petrol team proved that the sequential box is a forceful addition to the cars, beating all of the other TDIs, apart from the Honeywell boys, who took the top spot.
Round 3 took place at Snetterton 200 where Eco Racing/Solutions won the 6-hour race. Their strategy of looking after the car certainly paid dividends, as they had to both catch and pass Honeywell’s Geoff Fawcett in the last stint. It was incredibly tense on the pit wall, as Abraham pulled out of Fawcett’s slipstream and blasted past him on the start/finish straight of the second to last lap, to take the overall victory, forcing Neil Plimmer and Geoff Fawcett to settle for 2nd. Scarab Racing’s Steve Johansen and Bram de Groot took their first ever victory in the petrol class.
The British success story of Spa 3,000 km was Team Tiger’s Chloe Noyce, Ben Beighton, Chris Beighton and Oliver Bryant who took an extremely impressive overall petrol win, finishing 10th behind 9 TDIs, after 24-hours of racing.
Back in the UK, Brands Hatch featured a 1-hour sprint, followed by a 4-hour endurance race. This race saw one of the most staggering drives of the season, after Racelogic were forced to start from the pits due to fixing a carburettor problem whilst the cars were being gridded. They stormed through the field to reach the leading pack by the final stint. Greensall was now 2nd overall and concentrated on catching the Honeywell boys, who were in the lead.
He pulled off an extremely tight overtake coming out of Graham Hill Bend, with the 2 cars almost touching all the way along the back straight. He managed to hang on to 1st place as they went into Clearways and proceeded to set the fastest lap of the race, finishing in 1st place outright! This was the first time a petrol car has won the race overall and starting from the pitlane made the victory that much sweeter for the team!
The 2nd race of the day was won overall by Team Honeywell in the TDI class after a trouble free race combined with lightening pit stops proved a winning combination, in front of their 250 plus sponsors and guests. Racelogic won the petrol class again, after the Team O’BR leaders lost out because of a stop and go penalty.
The penultimate round at Anglesey saw another strong performance for Racelogic who won the 6-hour race, just 8 seconds ahead of Team O’BR in P2. Eco Racing/Solutions took their 2nd victory of the season in the TDI class.
OultonParkwas a thrilling and tense 4-hour season finale, with the overall championship honours riding on the result. Eco Racing/Solutions were a force to be reckoned with, and Paul Abraham, Tom Mills and Charlie Burt sealed the TDI championship with an overall victory.
Meanwhile, JPR/Team Racelogic simply required a clean finish to clinch the class title, but a top 2 finish to determine the overall championship. It wasn’t going to be easy for them as they drew the last row of the grid, providing Greensall with a challenge atr the start of the race! Added to this, Ritter also required a push start down the pit lane during his stint. However, a combination of fast consistent and trouble free stints resulted in P1 petrol class, 2nd overall and the 2012 overall champions. It was time for the team to celebrate!
The season was rounded off nicely with the 12-hour day into night, European Cup round, at Snetteton 300. Here, ex-BTCC racer Eugene O’Brien, Mark Burton, Robert Thomas and Neil Walker drove in treacherous conditions to take the overall win. Le Mans GT2 class winner, O’Brien, described it as the most difficult race he had ever competed in. Mark Burton said, “This says something about the competitiveness of the Fun Cup Championship”.
Fun Cup plans to step up another gear in 2013, with a switch to just one class. The teams with petrol cars will be able to lighten them by 10kgs and those with a TDI will have to add 35 kgs. This move is certain to increase competitiveness once more and it is guaranteed to provide a host of different winners and drivers.
Fun Cup organisers, JPR Motorsport, would like to thank all of the teams and officials involved, for making 2012 such a fun, competitive and friendly championship. Special thanks to our permanent Clerk of the Course, Julian Floyd, for his dedication to the championship.
For more information about Fun Cup please visit www.funcup.co.uk