Aaron Mason won a thrilling opening race of the new APR Volkswagen Racing Cup season at Oulton Park, beating Martin Depper by a mere tenth of a second.
Mason made a good start from the front row of the grid and took the lead from pole-sitter James Walker exiting Old Hall, Depper squeezing into second ahead of the SEAT of Peter Wyhinny.
It then became instantly apparent that the Golf GTI of Walker was not at all healthy, as having dropped to fifth place by the end of lap one, he continued to slip back down the field, the reigning champion eventually finishing just in the points in 19th.
Mason’s 1.1-second lead was soon wiped out by the end of lap two, and the race turned into a three-way scrap between himself, Depper and Jim Cartwright, the latter then getting a great run out of Lodge corner and powering past Depper into second at the end of lap three.
Cartwright then began hassling leader Mason for the lead, showing his Golf GTI in the mirrors of the leader’s Scirocco for lap after lap with Depper doing likewise behind, before finally Cartwright saw his chance to lunge up the inside into Old Hall.
The move wasn’t done yet however as Mason hung on to challenge back into Cascades, the pair squeezing each other for room after which Mason emerged from the hairpin as the race leader once again, former Mini racer Depper the beneficiary as he snuck by into second.
The two Scirrocos then built a small gap and began their own battle for the lead, Depper having a testing look up the inside into the first corner with three laps to go, but the late-braking Mason held on to the top spot.
The final two laps were just as tight, Depper getting a good run towards Cascades on the last tour of the Cheshire circuit, but the AWM/Warranty Direct driver held on and took the opening victory of the championship, Depper only 0.1s from the bumper of his rival.
Third went to Cartwright who dropped back having briefly taken the lead, fourth going to Ross Wylie after passing Wyhinny mid-race, the SEAT driver dropping another spot to the Bora of Joe Fulbrook by the flag.
Phil House moved up a place from eighth on the grid to finish seventh after a quiet race, latching onto the battle for fourth throughout, while the Corrado of Alex Dziurzynski was eighth ahead of Team HARD’s David Sutton, who made his way through the field from 17th to ninth ahead of Josh Caygill.