Bond Pulls Away in VW Cup Title Fight after Croft

by Connor Jackson

The VW Racing Cup rejoined the TCR UK package for the final time this season at Croft, as Jamie Bond put one hand on a title that no-one has wanted to win this year. The Team HARD driver finally picked up his first victory of 2018 in race one, now entering the final round with a 54 point advantage over Ruaridh Clark.

It was a round to remember for Mark Wakefield, with the VW Golf driver picking up not only his first podium of the season, but later his first win, after one of the overtakes of the year, to take the lead in race two. Bond would repeat Wakefield’s third and first result, as Owen Walton continued his Oulton Park momentum with a second place finish in race one, after his polesitting teammate Simon Walton crashed on the opening lap.

Race two graced Darron Lewis with his first series silverware, as the #285 goes from strength to strength. Though all eyes were on Clark and Martin Depper after a controversial collision almost took both drivers out.

Qualifying

Pole: Simon Walton – Slidesports – Audi TT

As the eighteen strong field took to the Croft circuit with the Audi TT of Simon Walton moving to the top of the leaderboard as the track rubbered in. Tom Witts had topped the session in opening minutes, but came the halt with five minutes to go, bringing out the red flag. He would fall to fifteenth on the grid.

Jamie Bond had been nowhere for most of the session, but a lap twenty seconds before the red flag had put him second. The field, minus Witts would retake to the track with Cup leader Bond immediately smashing Walton’s time. The Slidesports driver responded though, taking pole on his penultimate lap before bettering his time at the top.

Joshua Jackson made a spectacular debut, consistently improving to take third in the dying stages ahead of Josh Coggan, who sacrificed a third lap for clear air. Meanwhile Ruaridh Clark made it five drivers within a second of pole as Owen Walton rounded out the top six.

Simon Walton was on form during to take pole on Saturday, but his weekend ended after 200 metres on Sunday when he spun and damaged his Audi TT into thr first corner. (Credit: Volkswagen Racing Cup)

Race One

Winner: Jamie Bond – Team HARD. – VW Golf

Despite his heroics of the Saturday qualifying, it would end it disaster for Simon Walton in the first corner. After losing out on the start line drag to Jamie Bond, the Slidesports driver spun in front of the pack, taking out Joshua Jackson and Josh Coggan. The latter would attempt to make the restart, but like Walton and Jackson, found himself out in the early stages.

After brief red flag, a lonely Bond (the only driver to occupy the top four places on the grid) led the field away as it started to rain. Bond would have been hoping for a smooth race, but the damp conditions favoured the Audi, with Owen Walton rapidly closing in the early stages. With the rain easing later on though, Bond held on for his first win of the season as Walton and Mark Wakefield completed the podium.

Ruaridh Clark had been second on the opening lap, but the young Brit failed to hold on, eventually dropping to fourth. In the closing laps though, he had managed to hold off the squabbling Darron Lewis and Paul Taylor, with the former taking fifth on the final lap. Rounding out the top ten would be Matthew Wilson and Matthew Evans.

Mark Wakefield was the man on form at Croft, picking up a win and a podium, including an overtake in race two when he passed two cars to take the lead (Credit: Volkswagen Racing Cup)

Race Two

Winner: Mark Wakefield – Team HARD. – VW Golf

It was another frantic start, though this time all the cars made it through, albeit not facing the same direction after a spin for Tom Walker. He wasn’t the only driver to make an excursion though, with Paul Taylor running wide on cold tyres in the second sector, losing the lead.

Darron Lewis would inherit the lead with the on-form Jamie Bond and Mark Wakefield chasing the rookie down. As Bond hounded the Scirocco, neither expected Wakefield, out-braking both into the first corner and getting it stopped in time to hold off Lewis.

With Lewis and Bond swapping places, Wakefield scythed off into the distance, eventually claiming the flag by 3.2 seconds. The battle for the podium soon turned into a four car fight, with Martin Depper and Ruaridh Clark joining in.

The racing soon turned aggressive and after a number of light collisions between the pair, Clark snapped with two laps to go, turning deliberately into the side of Depper at the Complex and costing them both a podium.

Lewis took his best result of the year with second ahead of Bond, whose car was starting to fall apart by the flag. Depper got back past a limping Clark with Taylor eventually finishing sixth after his first lap heroics. Behind them, Matthew Evans held off the advances of Owen Walton, Tom Witts and Joshua Jackson for seventh place.

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