It was a weekend to remember for Martin Depper in the Volkswagen Racing Cup, picking up a race win and third place as he looks to hit back in the championship fight. Meanwhile it was a pole and race win in the opening fixture for Simon Walton after his dire start to the season.
Depper was the only fixture on both podiums as Walton led home Dennis Strandberg in the opening race. The Swede found himself falling back in race two though, with Depper being re-handed the win from Jamie Bond in race two due to the chequered flag being waved early. The technical error did not hinder Tom Witts, who collected his first podium since his return.
Meanwhile in the VAG Trophy, James Goodall and Mark Steel took one win apiece in the two car class. While championship leader Chris Panayiotou struggled to compete at the sharp end.
Pole: Simon Walton – Slidesports – Audi TT
A number of the drivers swapped honours at the top, but as the time ticked down, the regular crowd found their way to the fore, with Simon Walton and Dennis Strandberg going head-to-head, pulling away from the field. With three minutes to go, Strandberg pitted followed by Walton as the tyres had run out of life.
Walton would take pole, but a late lap from Hawkins saw her split the pair and knocking Strandberg to third ahead of Matthew Wilson. As the flag came out it would be Ruaridh Clark who put in a time at the dead to jump in front of Martin Depper who rounded out the top six.
Winner: Simon Walton – Slidesports – Audi TT
A lightning start by Jess Hawkins was made more noticeable, as Simon Walton struggled off the line. The Audi TT driver was not prepared to give up his hard-fought gains and as Hawkins made a mistake through Williams, Walton got the run onto the Bentley straight, retaking the lead. Hawkins found herself in further trouble with Dennis Strandberg inheriting second.
Walton started to break away, setting multiple fastest laps as Strandberg settled for second. They stayed that way across the line with Strandberg helping his championship chances due to a poor race from Chris Panayiotou. Completing the podium would be Martin Depper after a race long battle with Hawkins who bravely defended until the penultimate lap.
Meanwhile, Jamie Bond jumped up the order to follow Hawkins off the line in fifth. Sixth would go to Matthew Wilson as series leader Panayiotou had a lonely run to seventh from Paul Taylor.
Afterwards, Walton said; “We’re a lot happier now. On the warm-up lap I made sure to get lots of heat in the tyres and although Jessica got a better start off the line, I had more tyre heat and got her along the Bentley Straight.”
“I was a bit concerned about tyre wear. I’ve only used two [new] tyres so far, so I’ve got two new ones for the front for the next race.”
Winner: Martin Depper – DW Racing – VW Scirocco
Jess Hawkins arrived late on the grid after the bonnet flew up on the formation lap, but still dropped down from third at the start. With a broken windscreen, she was black flagged, ruining a solid points finish. She was soon joined in the pits by Toby Davies. After jumping up from the back, he too had a bonnet issue, with the car also stuck in third gear.
Up front, it was Martin Depper who leaped into the lead from Dennis Strandberg and polesitter Jamie Bond. Strandberg failed to hold on to his lap one advantage, dropping behing Bond and Chris Panayiotou. With the minutes counting down, Tom Witts would join the battle for the podium, hounding the championship leaders.
The race would end in dramatic circumstances as the flag was shown one lap early. Depper slowed down as a result with Bond crossing the line in the lead. The race continued, but the results were counted back a lap, handing Depper the victory, his first of the year.
Bond, quite frustrated, finished second ahead of Witts. Fourth would go to the rising Paul Taylor ahead of Saturday’s race winner and polesitter Simon Walton. Panayiotou would only be classified sixth, after a five second penalty.
A relieved Depper, said; “I saw my team with their board out and I knew we were close to the end, then I saw the marshal put the flag out, but then Bond came past me. I wasn’t going to take any chances, but by then it was too late. As I stopped the flag man came straight across, he knew he made a mistake and went to see the officials.”
“The VW Cup is great close racing and I was using to stay up to speed as a Touring Car driver. There’s a few irons in the fire, but you’ve got to stay in practice, so we’ll see how the year pans out.”