Double Top for Sutton at Brands as Fulbrook Retakes Championship Lead
The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup is all set for an explosive finale, with five drivers in with a shout of championship victory and just 16 points separating the top three title fighters. David Sutton put himself right into title contention this weekend at Brands Hatch, scoring his maiden VW Cup race win on Saturday and following up with another on the Sunday for good measure.
The other men to make the podium at Brands Hatch were Jack Walker-Tully, James Greenway, Lucas Orrock and double champion Joe Fulbrook, who goes back on top in the points after Stefan Di Resta struck trouble today.
Brands Hatch Race 1 David Sutton claimed his first-ever Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup victory at Brands Hatch on Saturday, and the first this season for the SlideSports team, when he triumphed in the championship’s eventful 11th round. The 24-year-old from Rotherham recovered from a fluffed start to take the lead at the start of the second lap, and endured a lengthy safety car period before reasserting his superiority at the restart.
Sutton was on mighty form all day in the SlideSports Scirocco, annexing pole position in qualifying by a two-tenth margin to push Team HARD Golf GTI driver Howard Fuller off top spot in the dying minutes of the session. But it all went wrong for David moments before the lights went out when his foot slipped off the brake and he crept forward an inch or two. As he brought his car to a halt once more the starter threw the switch and the race almost went without him, Fuller diving ahead into Paddock Hill Bend at the wheel of a new Golf enjoying an impressive race debut.
Sutton recovered his composure to slot into second behind Fuller, with Jack Walker-Tully (Cooke and Mason Scirocco) and championship leader Stefan Di Resta (JWB Motorsport Scirocco) hot on his heels. Into Paddock at the start of lap two, Sutton edged ahead of Fuller to take the lead. As he did so, Fuller started to slide luridly; by the time he had gathered things together again, Howard had slipped to 12th. Walker-Tully had to take avoiding action, slipping to fourth behind the AWM/Warranty Direct Scirocco of James Greenway.
The race was by this stage under the control of the safety car, which was scrambled after the Golfs of championship debutant Chris Knox (THM Racing) and Craig Mason (AWM) came to rest in the Clarke Curve gravel trap. The incident was triggered when Knox and Paul Dehadray (JWB Scirocco) came together and Mason was forced to spin in avoidance. None of the three drivers was hurt but recovery of their vehicles held up proceedings for four laps.
If he was worried about the Safety Car period and the restart, Sutton did not show it. When the race went live he eased away of Di Resta and the rest and by the end of the sixth lap was a half-second clear of his pursuers, which is as close as anyone would get. He went on to take a long-overdue maiden win by a nearly eight-tenth margin.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sutton, “and it feels good. I had a bad start – my foot slipped off the brake, so Howard managed to get in front of me. I got a bit of a gap when he spun after I overtook him at Paddock, but then the safety car came out and backed it all back up again – a nightmare. But at the restart I managed to get away again and get a gap, and the guys battling behind me helped me out after that.”
The battle for second place raged to the chequered flag. Greenway pushed Di Resta back to third on the restart lap, Stefan suffering the effects of carrying near-maximum success ballast. Walker-Tully lifted third from Di Resta next time around and set about a major campaign to relieve second from Greenway, achieving the feat with a neat down-the-inside manoeuvre through Surtees on the penultimate lap. Said Jack: “It was plenty hard, but he gave me just enough room to do it.”
Greenway was pleased to have brought an end to the run of poor mechanical luck which has kept him off the podium since his May Rockingham win, but disappointed not to have made the top step: “I think I had a car which was capable of winning today. I made a couple of mistakes which allowed Jack to get close enough to mount a challenge and then get past. Third’s not a bad result after what I’ve gone through in recent races, though. I was here to win the championship; that’s not going to happen now but at least I can aim at getting some good results in the remaining races.”
After running second behind Sutton on the second lap, Di Resta was disappointed to fall to fourth by the end, even though he managed to keep Lucas Orrock at bay after a charging drive up to fifth by the KPM Racing driver from P10 on the grid. “After the restart I just didn’t have the straightline speed,” said Stefan. “I was a sitting duck on the straight and both Greenway and Walker-Tully came past me; there was nothing I could do.”
“It was a shame I didn’t qualify better,” said Orrock, “because I seemed to have pretty good race pace. I managed to reel Stefan in and we ran side by side up the Derek Minter Straight – one of us had to give in, and I decided I had to back off and live to fight another day. Fifth is a good result given where I started.”
Joe Fulbrook slipped to eighth after contact on the opening lap but recovered in the closing stages to pick off Aaron Mason’s AWM Scirocco and the rapid turbodiesel of Golf of Darrelle Wilson to make it up to sixth by the end. Wilson claimed an excellent seventh (the top Team HARD finisher) ahead of Mason, who had been involved in a lap-one clash with the Milltek Sport Golf of James Walker which spun Walker to the tail end of the field. Aaron’s pace was blunted by a week-old ankle injury which hampered his ability to brake effectively.
Philip House’s re-engined PH Motorsport Scirocco and Stewart Lines’s Maximum Motorsport car completed the top 10 – Lines battling through from 17th on the grid after qualifying issues – with Crayford’s Tom Barley (Team HARD) 11th for some local glory ahead of George White’s KPM Scirocco, White getting the better of a long battle with the KPM Golf of Sam Morgan.
After his second-lap spin, Fuller recovered to take 14th, and a new lap record, ahead of Walker and David Fairbrother’s SlideSports Scirocco. Kieran Gallagher’s Team HARD Golf finished 17th ahead of the Sciroccos of Joe McMillan and Josh Caygill, the latter having been caught up in the lap-one clash between Aaron Mason and Walker; Josh spun back to 26th and enduring a long fight thereafter to claw his way through to 19th. Tim Snaylam’s AWM Scirocco completed the top 20 at the flag.
Brands Hatch Race 2 His first win may have been a long time in the making, but David Sutton’s second Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup victory came around very quickly indeed. Thanks to some robust manoeuvres on the opening lap, the SlideSports driver shot from sixth to second, and he went on to lift the lead from Lucas Orrock on lap three.
Sutton is the first double winner of the 2014 season, and his timely victories lift him into contention for the championship crown as the series heads towards its concluding rounds at Donington Park in a fortnight.
Sutton’s Saturday win meant that under the reverse-grid rules he would start from the third row of the grid. A lightning getaway thanks to his Scirocco’s DSG semi-auto gearbox allowed David to make up several spots on the run into Paddock Hill Bend. As Orrock gained the lead ahead of pole man Joe Fulbrook, Sutton launched his Scirocco down Fulbrook’s inside to steal second.
Unfortunately his manoeuvre caused a ripple effect through the frontrunners which led to Joe Fulbrook’s Golf bumping James Greenway’s Scirocco, which went for a time-consuming trip through the Paddock gravel trap along with Aaron Mason’s sister AWM Scirocco.
There was further first-lap drama at the Druids hairpin, where Darrelle Wilson and Jack Walker-Tully collided, with the former beaching in the gravel, which necessitated a one-lap safety car period.
It was Orrock’s first time leading a train of cars under the safety car, and unfortunately his inexperience cost him the lead at the restart: “I thought we were going around again, but then the safety car went for the pit lane, and I thought, ‘OK, right, we are racing…’” Orrock’s hesitation allowed Sutton to pounce down his inside at Paddock at the start of the third lap, and by mid-distance David had built a useful lead.
Another fast-starter was Howard Fuller, who climbed from 14th on the grid to sixth on the opening lap. He went on to pick off Stefan Di Resta, Stewart Lines and Fulbrook before seizing second from Orrock down Cooper Straight on the sixth lap. Fuller gained quickly on leader Sutton and attacked him into Surtees on the penultimate lap to go ahead, only to run wide on the exit and slip to fourth behind Sutton, Orrock and Fulbrook.
From that point Sutton was home free; he crossed the line half a second clear of Orrock. “I got a great start,” said David, “and managed to build a bit of a gap, but then my tyres just went off and I slowed right down. Howard caught me and got by, but then ran wide. It’s great to win both races here, and good for my championship hopes, although it’s going to be difficult for me to win it…”
Lucas Orrock was magnanimous about his chances of beating Sutton in a straight fight: “To be fair, I think David was too quick for me – we didn’t quite have the pace today and it was a case of trying to get the best result I could in what was not the quickest car.”
Fulbrook’s third place, his fifth podium of the year, puts the double champion back on top of the points table heading for the Donington finale. “I had a great race with Lucas,” said Joe, “wheel to wheel, bumper to bumper, fast and fair and with respect for each other, which is how it should be. Third is a good result for me and now it’s all going down to Donington, so that will be an interesting weekend...”
Fuller’s run of troubles continued into the final corner, Clark Curve, where his Golf got out of shape, started to slide and was collected by James Walker’s GTI. Fuller was cannoned into the pit wall and Walker delayed long enough by the fracas for Aaron Mason to nip through and steal fourth. Walker recovered to take fifth, well ahead of Lines, with Barley seventh to be Team HARD’s highest finisher.
Greenway recovered from his first-lap visit to the gravel trap to fight back to eighth by the end, one spot ahead of his team-mate Josh Caygill, with George White completing the top 10 in his KPM Scirocco. David Fairbrother maintained his 100% scoring rate with 11th ahead of Kieran Gallagher and Tim Snaylam. Erstwhile championship leader Stefan Di Resta was a disappointed 14th after an early hit from another car knocked his steering awry. “The steering was all over the place,” said Stefan, “so there wasn’t much I could do.”
Chris Knox made up for the disappointment of his early departure from race one to secure 15th in the THM Racing Golf, ahead of Simons Rudd and Andrews, Graham Ewing and Robin Riley. The JWB Motorsport technicians did a great job to rebuild Paul Dehadray’s Scirocco after his Saturday crash, and he repaid their efforts with a 20th-place finish. Championship newcomer and race debutant Paul Inglis was 24th to record his second successful finish of the weekend for Team HARD.
Current Driver Standings