Panayioutou and Strandberg Continue Battle at Brands

by Connor Jackson

With the VW Racing Cup moving away from the TCR UK and British GT support package for their headlining event at Brands Hatch, it would be Chris Panayiotou and Swede Dennis Strandberg who took one race win each at the Deutsche Fest.

The pair leave the weekend with a 22 point gap in the standings as Panayiotou continues to benefit from his consistent finishing and Strandberg’s disqualification from Rockingham. Strandberg would have been hoping for a clean weekend, but was hindered in the opening race managing sixth after a poor qualifying, though hit back with a win in race two as his Maximum Motorsport rival could only manage fifth.

Elsewhere, Ruaridh Clark enjoyed his best weekend of the season with a pole position and podium place. The result moves him up to seventh in the standings while third place Jamie Bond continued his traditionally strong pace at Brands, picking up a second place in race two. The other podium finishers would be Simon Walton and Toby Davis as those six locked out the top five places all weekend.

Qualifying

Pole: Ruardh Clark – JWB Motorsport – VW Scirocco

It would be a maiden pole position for young rookie Ruaridh Clark at Brands. The JWB driver was quick out of the blocks and along with championship leader Chris Panayiotou was setting the early pace. It proved to be a difficult session for many front-runners as Jamie Bond’s spin into the gravel in the final 2 minutes, bringing out the red flag and the end of the session, allowing Clark to hold on.

Behind Panayiotou in second, Simon Walton continued his qualifying form from Snetterton to go third, six thousandths of a second ahead of Ethan Hammerton with Bond in fifth.

Podium after race one from Brands Hatch (Credit: Volkswagen Racing Cup)

Race 1

Winner: Chris Panayiotou – Maximum Motorsport – VW Scirocco

As the lights went out, both front row starters were eager to get away with Ruaridh Clark and Chris Panayiotou edging forward before the lights went out. Both drivers did not trip the timing beam though, with neither receiving a penalty.

Clark had kept the lead in the opening four laps, but could only withstand the pressure for so long, as Panayiotou slid past at Paddock Hill Bend. He did not break away though, with Clark keeping up the battle for the full 23 lap race. Across the line the pair were separated by 0.381 seconds as Jamie Bond initially completed the podium.

Bond’s result would soon be taken away as he was handed a 8.5 second penalty for dangerous driving, promoting Simon Walton into third. Walton himself had spent the end of the race battling with Toby Davis (who had started eighteenth) and Dennis Strandberg completing the top six after Ethan Hammerton took a trip through the gravel damaging his car.

Race 2

Winner: Dennis Strandberg – Team HARD. – VW Scirocco

Going into the weekend, it looked likely that Dennis Strandberg would not even be racing, but a last-minute deal saw the 24-year-old move to the Team HARD outfit. It had been a tough start to the weekend, but after qualifying tenth, he quickly made up ground in race one to take reverse grid pole in race two.

From here, Strandberg did not look back. His chances to break away were limited as two extended safety car periods held up the race for much of the proceedings as Tony Prendergast’s first lap and Russell Joyce’s eighth lap retirement saw the race reduced to six racing laps with the Golf pair of Jamie Bond and Toby Davis benefitting from Simon Walton’s misfortune to complete the podium.

Behind them, Ruaridh Clark and Chris Panayiotou continued their Sunday-long battle, each jumping a place to take fourth and fifth respectively with Mark Wakefield leaping up to sixth.

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