With the Volkswagen Racing Cup title going to the final race, it was relief for eventual champion Jamie Bond, after almost sacrificing his 52 point gap, coming into the Donington Park weekend. The Team HARD. star would be pushed all the way by rookie Ruaridh Clark who missed out on the title after losing the lead and opportunity in the final laps.
It becomes Bond’s first VW title, with both front-runners expressing their desire to return to the series for another season. The 24-year-old battled with technical issues all weekend, taking the title by a mere 12 points.
In the rest of the weekend, Josh Coggan and Mark Wakefield picked up wins in either race. Coggan was the only driver to pick up a double podium while Tom Walker collected a second place, proving to be the best starter all weekend. Elsewhere, Owen Walton qualified on pole, though could only collect one podium all weekend.
Pole: Owen Walton – Audi TT
Jamie Bond took the lead in the early stages as he hoped to secure his championship lead. It would not last though as the Slidesports Audi pair dominated the times. Owen Walton would eventually come out on top, beating his father Simon Walton by 0.13 seconds, securing the teams first front row lock-out of the year.
Tom Walker impressed throughout, lining up third ahead of Josh Coggan, who was hoping to continue his form from Croft. Bond would fall to sixth, but remained in front of championship rivals Matthew Wilson and Ruaridh Clark. Paul Taylor rounded out the top eight.
Winner: Josh Coggan – VW Golf
It was a lightning start from Tom Walker, jumping into the lead from third. With the drying track, many of the drivers were rueing the choice of wet tyres attempting to make the most of the wet line. It would be worse for Jamie Bond as a missed gear at the hairpin saw him drop three positions, including one to closest rival Ruaridh Clark.
The on-track battle between Bond and Clark would continue throughout, as the Team HARD car started smoking after light contact. Life would soon get worse for the points leader as the VW’s who started on dry tyres started to scythe through the order.
Back up at the front, Josh Coggan managed his tyres in the latter stages, to get the better of Tom Walker, earning his maiden VW Cup win of the year. Owen Walton would round out the podium as the Slidesport’s failed to maintain their qualifying pace.
Simon Walton edged Mark Wakefield as the pair went side-by-side over the line, with Clark holding on to his championship aspirations in fifth, now 34 points behind. Wakefield and Martin Depper were the biggest winners of the dry tyre approach, with the latter picking up sixth ahead of Russell Joyce and Darron Lewis.
“This is the one I’ve been hunting for,” said an elated Coggan to TCF. “I got a good start, managed to get up to P3 which I was happy with. Stayed there for a while, decided to stick with what I’ve got and let the two cars up front make mistakes or until the car gradually came to him.
“Sure enough half way in, I managed to catch the front two, get past and the gap was ever-growing from then on.”
Winner: Mark Wakefield – VW Golf
With Ruaridh Clark on pole and Jamie Bond in fifteenth on the grid, the rookie had put himself in the best position to clinch the title, but despite a clean start, he knew that his fate would depend on Bond’s progress. The Team HARD driver was wise to the conditions and despite a poor start, stayed out of trouble throughout the race.
He would soon work his way into the top ten, but this wouldn’t last forever, as his race one issues returned, forcing him to limp to the finish in thirteenth, enough for the title.
A spin for Simon Walton in the first corner, promoted the fast starting Tom Walker to second behind Clark. Walker though could not repeat his Saturday heroics, dropping down the order with eight minutes to go.
This saw Mark Wakefield with a broken headlight, who made the tyres last in the closing minutes, taking the win from Clark and Coggan. Paul Taylor took a commendable fourth with Martin Depper, after briefly running second, falling to fifth, going side-by-side across the line with Owen Walton. It would be Tom Witts and Lewis Ryder who completed the top eight.
“A disappointing end, but a lot of highs and lows. I’ve learned a lot and it’s a great car with the JWB team, it’s been a good season,” started Clark. “Rockingham was just the worst weekend that could possibly happen and after that they just slowly built up. Hopefully we’ll come back next year a bit stronger.”
Full Interview with Jamie Bond out on Tuesday.