1993 Renault 5 Turbo championship winner Mark Howard has been lured out of retirement to compete in the 2011 Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants, starting at the season's opening rounds at Oulton Park on Easter Monday.
46 year old Howard hung up his helmet after winning the title, but returns to make history by giving the Mk VI Golf GTI it's British racing debut at the Cheshire circuit.
Nottinghamshire-based Howard said: “I've always wanted to come back to racing. But I knew that I was addicted, so I stayed away while I built my business and started a family. Then I started to look around at what I could do and considered several options, not knowing whether I had been away too long and whether I still had 'it'.
“Then I found the Volkswagen Racing Cup, which is a brilliant and very friendly series, and within three weeks of seeing the plans for the new Golf, here I am, all signed up and raring to go.”
The new Golf will feature a special '35 years of the GTI' livery, as Melissa Wight, of its creators Volkswagen Racing UK, explains: “We like to do a 'new car project' every season and also wanted to do something to celebrate 35 years of the Golf GTI; it seemed appropriate to turn the latest incarnation of what has become an iconic breed into a racing car. We had almost completed the build when Mark came along so, as we were looking for someone to drive it, it seemed perfect timing.
“We have had enormous experience with building Mk V Golf GTI models, so it was not a difficult operation for us, and the engine in the Mk VI is the same as that seen in the racing Sciroccos, so that was a help also. The car looks awesome and we are delighted that Mark has come out of retirement to drive it.”
Howard will join a bumper grid for the VW Cup season opening at Oulton, with twenty four cars set to take to the grid. Fourteen Golfs will be taking part, competing against Sciroccos, Beetles, a Bora and a new GTI-engined Caddy van.
Ones to watch will be last year's champion Steve Chaplin in his 'Herbie'-liveried Beetle, 2009 title-winner Joe Fulbrook returning in his turbocharged Bora, 2010 championship runner up Peter Felix, race winners from last season Aaron Mason and Richard Walker and the youngest member of the grid, 16 year old Zoe Wenham.
In addition to title backer FUCHS Lubricants, the Volkswagen Racing Cup is supported by Hankook Tyres, Paragon, Milltek Sport, Superchips, Ceva Logistics and ECM Vehicle Delivery.
VOLKSWAGEN RACING CUP with Fuchs Lubricants, Oulton Park provisional entry list
2 Peter FELIX (Derby) Edynamix/20Ten Racing Golf GTI Mk V
4 Zoe WENHAM (Tewkesbury) SlideSports Golf GTI Mk V
6 Mark HOWARD (Westborough) Volkswagen Racing UK Golf GTI Mk VI
7 Tim SNAYLAM (Bolton) Allied Nippon Golf GTI Mk V
8 Aaron MASON (Doncaster) Comline/AWM Golf GTI Mk V
9 Jamie CORSTOPHINE (Teddington) Volkswagen Racing UK SEAT Leon Cupra
13 Joe FULBROOK (Maidenhead) Warranty Direct Racing Bora
20 Mike KURTON (Corse Lawn) SlideSports Scirocco R
21 Richard WALKER (Tuxford) KPM Racing Golf GTI Mk V
24 Phil MORRIS (Congleton) KPM Racing Golf GTI Mk V
31 Thomas WILSON (Castle Combe) Driver Golf GTI Mk V
32 Kieran GRIFFIN (Essendon) Addison Lee/SlideSports Scirocco R
33 Simon ELLIOTT (Coggenhoe) Volkswagen Racing UK New Caddy
38 Steve WOOD (Ashleworth) Driver Golf GTI Mk V
44 Robin RILEY (Milton Keynes) KPM Racing Beetle RSI
46 Andrew SMITH (Sale) Vis-Tuning Beetle TDI
48 Richard MORGAN (Chichester) Driver Golf GTI Mk V
50 Peter LETTINGA (Bentveld/NL) KPM Racing Golf GTI Mk V
51 Simon ANDREWS (Liphook) Warranty Direct Racing Golf GTI Mk V
53 Steve CHAPLIN (Maisemore) Complete Utilities Beetle RSI
69 James WALKER (Normanton) KPM Racing Golf GTI Mk V
92 Martyn WALSH (Chipping Norton) AWM Golf GTI Mk V
96 Cameron THOMPSON (Warwick) KPM Racing Beetle RSI
99 Mark CLYNES (Manchester) SlideSports Golf GTI Mk V