SPEED & TALENT ON THE VW CUP GRID
The Milltek Sport VW Cup is all set for a fantastic season! Photo: www.jakobebrey.com
A 30-car field is expected at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend (4-6 April) for what promises to be one of the most exciting seasons on record for the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup.
With three former champions on the grid, plus a further three race winners from recent seasons and some exciting newcomers, the championship is set to cement its position as the best-supported ‘single-badge’ race series in the UK.
New for 2015 are the introduction of live coverage on Motors TV from five of the seven Racing Cup meetings; more races, with the championship set to be decided over 16 rounds; and five extra-length races. There is also the new RacingLine Sportsman’s Trophy competition, designed to encourage the gentleman driver.
“We saw seven different race winners in 2014 and I think there is every chance that there will be even closer competition this season,” said Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup championship manager Matt Walker. “The first two meetings of the year will feature three races each and will be tough for the competitors, and the longer races later on are going to require a lot of strategy and planning. I’m not brave enough to make any predictions other than there will be some great action.”
Runners and riders
Leading the contenders into battle are the Golf GTI of three-time champion Joe Fulbrook and his Scirocco-driving AWM team-mate Aaron Mason, winner of the championship in 2013. Mason and Fulbrook are way out in front of the VW Cup race wins table with 20 and 16 victories respectively, and both look certain to add to their tallies this season.
The third returning champion is Phil House, who won the title in 2004 and ’05 in a Beetle, and who is back for another crack at it with his self-prepared Scirocco. House endured a miserable 2014 season but says he hopes he has cracked the issue which thwarted his pace: “A new turbo seems to have worked wonders – hopefully I will be a lot more competitive.”
Fulbrook beat car-racing rookie Lucas Orrock to the championship title last year by just six points, and with a year’s experience under his belt the Cambridgeshire 24-year-old is certain to be even stronger rival in 2015. Orrock returns with Milltek backing for his KPM Racing-prepared Scirocco.
Orrock took one race win last year to Mason’s four and Fulbrook’s two. Another double winner was David Sutton, who returns with a strengthened SlideSports team alongside former Mini Challenge frontrunner Chris Panayiotou.
The other drivers with VW Cup race-winning experience are international rally ace Robert Barrable, who will unfortunately miss the opening rounds but who will later on be seeking to replicate the impressive form he showed in the THM Racing Golf GTI on his debut at Donington Park at the end of last season; and Howard Fuller, who returns at the head of a literally rejuvenated Team HARD squad which boasts three teenage competitors – Rob Cox, Bobby Thompson and rookie Damani Marcano, just 16 – as well as the championship’s sole female, Laura Tillett, its first Lithuanian pilot in novice Karolis Staniukynas, and second-year competitor Simon Rudd.
The Volkswagen Racing Cup has made a great name for itself in recent seasons as the place for disabled racers to get to grips with the track and to compete on a level playing field with their able-bodied rivals. Successful former rally driver Pete Littler is the latest to take the challenge; the Warrington-based 50-year-old hasn’t competed since losing a leg in 2004 and is relishing the opportunity of racing one of the JW Bird Motorsport team’s Sciroccos: “I’ve tested the car and loved it; my only worry is that as a rally driver I’m used to taking a line through a corner and not having to worry about anybody else around me. It could be interesting…” Littler, 50, won several national-level forest rallies in 2000 and 2001 with the works Ford and Hyundai teams.
The championship’s other disabled racers are Philip Morris, who returns with a rebuilt KPM Golf after a major crash in testing last year, and wheelchair user Simon Andrews with his distinctive ‘polizei’-liveried DSG semi-auto Golf.
Littler’s JWB team-mates for the season are experienced Scirocco hands Mark Clynes and Paul Dehadray, while Andrews will line up alongside Fulbrook, Mason, Simon Tomlinson and Robin Riley in the AWM camp.
Four VW Cup drivers from recent seasons have been elevated to the British Touring Car Championship, including former race-winner Stewart Lines. But Lines’s Maximum Motorsport team races on with a three-Scirocco line-up featuring multiple saloons champion Lee Allen, Simon Deaton and Cameron Thompson.
Others to look out for this year include performance car dealer Graham Ewing, who switches to the SlideSports team; second-season starter Joe McMillan with his Cobra Engineering Scirocco; Jack Walker-Tully, a podium finisher last year with his Cooke and Mason Scirocco; and 19-year-old Matthew Wilson, younger brother of Tom, the championship’s top rookie of 2011.
Then there is Mark Smith, who last raced in the VW Cup in 2005 and who hasn’t competed since a BTCC foray with an Alfa Romeo in ’06; and his old rival from the championship’s early days, Andrew Smith, who plans to debut an all-new Beetle.