VW CUP SHOWDOWN AT BRANDS
The Volkswagen Racing Cup in association with Hankook is all set for a thrilling finale this weekend at Brands Hatch, where a four-way showdown for championship honours promises to enthral the traditionally enthusiastic crowd at the Kent circuit.
Leading the title challengers to Brands is reigning champion Joe Fulbrook, who's out in front with a handsome-looking 72-point lead over his closest rival (and RP Motorsport team-mate) Steve Chaplin.
But 39;Herbie' Beetle driver Chaplin has a card up his sleeve: a points-doubling Joker card which he's been saving all season just to play at Brands Hatch. Fulbrook played his back in April. Both men have won two races already this season; Joe's Warranty Direct Bora was on top at Knockhill and at Silverstone last time out, and Steve did the double at Rockingham. Neither has a race-winning pedigree at Brands but both made the podium there last year.
Berkshire-based Fulbrook won't be counting his chickens: he went into the final rounds of 2007 holding the championship lead only to fall at the final hurdle. "All I needed to do was finish in the top 10 two years ago," said Joe, "and then mechanical problems put paid to it, so it just goes to show what can happen. But I don't really feel any pressure; I just get in and drive. Steve is a great bloke to race against – we have good wheel-to-wheel battles, and that's what I'm here for, to have a good race and a laugh, and if I don't win it's not the end of the world."
Complete Utilities-backed driver Chaplin, who is based in Gloucestershire, says he feels no pressure either: "Mathematically I have a lot of work to do – Joe has a big lead, but I feel the pressure is on him, not me. We've gone well at Brands Hatch before and we are quietly confident."
Brands lap record holder Didge Dziurzynski is six points further adrift but, like Fulbrook, has spent his Joker already. He's won four times in 2009 – once in his old faithful Mk II Golf and three times at the wheel of his potent but still occasionally troublesome Mk IV.
The other driver with a mathematical chance, albeit a slender one, is Aaron Mason, who has enjoyed a superbly competitive maiden season of motorsport in the AWM Motor Sport Golf GTI. Mason is not the only new driver enjoying success in the championship: it's a series which attracts newcomers from all walks of life – like World Snooker Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, who made his track debut with the series at Silverstone last month, and who returns at Brands in the number 147 Jetta.
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