The final round of the 2013 ARP Volkswagen Racing Cup could finally be Aaron Mason‘s moment of glory, the Doncaster driver needing just 30 points from the remaining two races at Donington to clinch a maiden title.
The competition has been fierce all season with a total of seven winners from the 12 races so far, four of those going the way of Mason to leave him with a comfortable 64-point lead heading into the Donington finale.
A three-time third place finisher in the championship since 2009, Mason now holds the record for the most wins in the history of Volkswagen Cup with 15, a statistic which would see him become champion in 2013 should he extend the achievement.
Mason has three rivals to keep his eyes on heading into the final duo of races, Joe Fulbrook, Phil House and Stewart Lines all still mathematically in with a chance of success themselves should the AWM/Warranty Direct driver slip up along the way.
His own team-mate Fulbrook remains the Scirocco driver’s closest opposition. The former double VW Cup champion started the season strong, but has since struggled to regain that winning touch in the second half of the season after a win at Rockingham in the fourth round of the season driving his new-for-2013 Golf GTI.
The scenario for Mason is simple – Even if Fulbrook produced a clean sweep of the spoils with pole position, two wins and a pair fastest laps at Donington, team-mate Mason would only have to cross the line seventh in either of the races lift the championship trophy.
Although he refuses to admit the job will be easy just yet, Mason has no shortage of success in the series around Donington, claiming five wins from the las six races held at the venue.
“I’m not counting my chickens just yet,” says Mason. “There is still plenty that could go wrong at Donington and I will be taking care. My car will be carrying the full amount of success ballast and because of that I am not convinced we will have the pace for pole position. I think it will be a case of hoping for a fifth or a sixth in the first race and then, with the reverse grid, being on the front row for race two. Then maybe we can go for it.”
House meanwhile has been a force to be reckoned with all season on his full-time return to the championship he last won back in both 2004 and 2005, but has crucially surrendered points through problems that have often been out of the PH Motorsport driver’s hands – barring a race-ending off at Oulton Park’s second race.
Since then, House returned to winning form at Snetterton, and will keep fellow Scirocco-R compatriot Mason honest at Donington Park, as will KPM duo Lines and Martin Depper.
Former Mini Challenge champion and BTCC driver Depper has notched up two victories this season including the previous round at Brands Hatch, but inconsistency has ruled him out of the title hunt. Team-mate Lines has also visited the top step of the podium, but, like House, would require a Mason disaster to steal the title.
Ross Wylie will be an interloper once again, instantly starring on his series debut for Slidesports with triumphs at Oulton Park and Snetterton. He has since become one of Mason’s biggest rivals, confirmed as a ‘Rising Star’ by the BRDC.
Donington’s grid is expected to feature 25 Volkswagen machines, the most eye-catching name on the entry list being former British Superbike champion Tommy Hill, making his car-racing debut in a JWB Motorsport Golf GTI after passing his ARDS test handsomely last week at the same circuit.
The 28-year-old joins friend and ex-bike racer Josh Caygill on the grid, while Henry Gilbert will have the luxury of home circuit advantage. Gilbert aims to hang onto seventh in the championship from Team HARD star David Sutton, who is switching teams to AWM/Warranty Direct to drive an ex-Mason Golf GTI which won both 2012 races at Donington.
Chris Levett will to return to the wheel of his JWB Motorsport Scirocco which Nick Beaumont claimed a maiden win with at Brands Hatch, 16-year-old Sam Morgan swaps to the KPM squad, while Vanworx racer Dave Garnsworthy will return with the fan favourite Caddy Van.
The final British GT-supporting pair of rounds at Donington Park will take place on October 5/6 this weekend, and you can follow the action with thecheckeredflag.co.uk.
Saturday: Qualifying (16:30)
Sunday: Race 1 (10:40)/Race 2 (15:30)
Championship standings (provisional):
1) Aaron Mason (Scirocco R) 492* points
2) Joe Fulbrook (Bora/Golf GTI) 428*
3) Stewart Lines (Scirocco R) 406*
4) Martin Depper (Scirocco R) 386*
5) Philip House (Scirocco R) 370
6) Ross Wylie (Scirocco R) 348*
7) Henry Gilbert (Golf GTI) 292
8) David Sutton (Golf GTI) 256*
9) Tom Barley (Golf GTI) 256*
10) Josh Caygill (Golf GTI) 244