Martin Depper finally claimed his first win of the 2013 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup season in an enthralling opening race at Spa-Francorchamps, narrowly beating his pole-sitting KPM team-mate Stewart Lines to the flag.
In the tense opener, Lines was beaten away by fellow front row starter Tom Barley into La Source hairpin for the first time, but the joker-playing Team HARD driver was quickly dispatched by Lines on the Kemmel straight moments later, the biggest loser on lap one being Henry Gilbert as the HGR Golf driver spun to 20th place exiting Eau Rouge.
Barley’s Golf GTI was no match for his Scirocco rivals in the early running, the plucky youngster losing out to Depper and championship leader Aaron Mason on lap two before the duo chased after Lines to make the race an thrilling fight to the finish. Lines was at one stage 2.2s clear of his pursurers as they swapped places down the many flat-out sections of Spa in each other’s slipstream, but that was soon down to nothing as the pair clawed their way onto the back of Lines.
The trio were all together on the seventh of the race’s nine tours of the Belgian track, where they crossed the line on the penultimate lap practically over a blanket. At the Double Gauche section on that lap however, there was nearly disaster for KPM when Depper tagged the rear of Lines and sent the pair wide, allowing Mason to sneak through and into the lead.
However, the AWM/Warranty Direct man’s joy turned to disappointment moments later when, heading into the Bus Stop chicane, Mason locked his brakes and ran wide, the green Sciroccos both moving into the hot seat for victory once again.
The race went down to the very last corner – and beyond – between the duelling KPM men on the final lap, Depper leading all the way and just pipping his charging team-mate to the line by a mere 0.100s as they were greeted by the chequered flag for Depper’s frist triumph of 2013, team team securing a maiden 1-2 of the year also.
Mason had to complete the podium in third, later saying: “I just missed my braking point and locked up, so Martin and Stewart got by. But to be fair, I think they would have caught me anyway because they were so much faster down the straights. I’m just glad to have finished the race and third is a bonus.”
Barley finished a superb fourth place, his best of the year this far also, while the drive of the day went to Nick Beaumont, finishing fifth after starting a lowly 18th on the grid. Deputising for the Scirocco’s regular driver, Chris Levett, Beaumont charged through the field and robbed Peter Wyhinny and David Sutton of positions on the final lap, the former finishing seventh behind Sutton in his SEAT and missing out on sixth place and the race two pole position.
Didge Dziurzynski was next up in his Mk II Golf having also charged through the pack from 22nd on the grid to finish eighth, while Josh Caygill and AWM team-mate Joe Fulbrook rounded out the top 10, gearbox issues hampering the latter although he inheritted 10th position late on after a puncture for the recovering Gilbert.