The VW Cup, which is entering its tenth year in 2010, has welcomed its latest participants into the series.
The Fuchs Lubricants backed series has broken new ground for 2010 as the grid will features two race drivers with disabilities.
Phil Morris and Simon Andrews will both pilot specially adapted VW Golf GTi's, these adaptations see both cars fitted with DSG semi-automatic gearboxes and steering wheel-mounted gear change paddles.
50 year old Morris, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, has also had specially adapted foot pedals, while 31 year old Andrews, who has been wheelchair bound for 11 years after his pedal cycle was in a collision with a truck, has a hand operated throttle and brake.
Both drivers have had to prove to the governing body of UK Motorsport, the MSA, that they have the fitness to compete, and after a tortuous process for both the guys but both have now passed their ARDS test and can make their racing debuts, something which both drivers are looking forward to.
For Morris, he has had the Golf GTi for three years, and has experience of being on circuits after doing a number of track days in the car. Morris commented on his racing debut, saying: “I’ve had great fun with it, but I wanted to take it further, so I started to check things out with the MSA, I had to prove that in the event of an accident that I could quickly evacuate the car. I did that and they cleared me to take the ARDS test; I passed and now I’m ready to race at Oulton Park on 5 April for the first time.
“I’m very much a complete yellow-badge/black-cross novice and at 50 I’m one of the oldest-ever novices. I’m racing for fun.”
Morris is the Purchasing Manager for Fuchs UK, The Championships title sponsor and his GTi will feature the companies' colours.
For the Hampshire based property developer Andrews, the battle to get on to the VW Cup grid has been a 3 year battle, and one that he is glad to have won. Andrews explains why it's been such a long battle: “I’ve had to be very persistent; I’ve had to go before the MSA’s medical panel a number of times, and had to prove I can escape a car in less than 10 seconds. Last year they permitted me to go sprinting in my Golf, and that all went well, so here I am, the first paraplegic to race in the VW Cup.
“I’m planning to do most of the routine maintenance myself, and to get the car to the circuits, and then Racing Line will help me at the track. I’m really looking forward to it, and to racing against Phil and the other drivers.”
Melissa Wright, who works for Racing Line, the company that has helped develop the cars for Morris and Andrews, has paid tribute to the 2 guys on their efforts to become racers: “Motorsport is difficult enough to get into, but Simon and Phil have shown true grit to overcome their problems and get on to the grid. The Golf GTI with DSG gearbox is an ideal track machine for a driver with a disability, and I’m sure that both of them are going to have a great time in the championship.
“We have loved developing these cars with the guys and making sure that the specifications were just perfect for their requirements. We have been as apprehensive as them over the last few months while they went through the various procedures required for them to get their licences.
“Both Phil and Simon are seasoned track day participants so I am confident that they will be right in the thick of it in a championship which is perfect for novices of all abilities.”
Both Phil and Simon will make their VW Cup debuts at Oulton Park over the 3rd to 5th April.