There will be an altogether fresh look to the Volkswagen Racing Cup with FUCHS Lubricants this weekend (14/15 May) when the championship heads to Snetterton in Norfolk for the latest instalment of Britain’s best-supported national saloon race series.
For not only is the track completely new, having undergone a multi-million-pound redesign and lengthening over the winter, masterminded by MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan Palmer, but there will be new cars on the grid, returning drivers and a few car swaps in addition.
One of the new machines in action will be the all-new Caddy Racer, which was too fresh-from-the-box to make the grid at Oulton Park last month. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles boss Simon Elliott will be at the wheel of the 2.0-litre petrol turbo-engined Caddy.
The championship battle doesn’t come much closer than it is currently, with a tie at the top of the points table between 2008/’09 Champion Joe Fulbrook, whose turbocharged Bora claimed the 12th race win of its career at Oulton, and James Walker, who won the other Oulton encounter at the wheel of a newly built KPM Golf GTI.
Walker will be back in his regular Golf GTI - which he raced to the top four in the championship last year - while his Oulton race-winning machine will be taken over by racing returnee Mark Howard, the 1993 Renault 5GT Turbo Champion.
Just 10 points behind the current championship leaders is the reigning champion, Steve Chaplin, whose ‘Herbie’-liveried Beetle placed third in both of the opening rounds. The new circuit layout may just suit the Beetle, an example of which has not won a race at Snetterton since 2001.
The twin victor at Snetterton last year was Peter Felix, who went on to run Chaplin close for the championship, but the Derby driver endured a torrid time in the opening rounds of this season with only a single fourth-place finish to show for his troubles. Richard Walker - truck racing champion dad of James - has won twice at Snett, in 2007 on his championship debut and in ’09, and was on strong form at Oulton in another KPM Golf.
Steve Wood’s return after a two-year absence has gone well and the Gloucestershire driver holds fifth in the championship. AWM team-mates Aaron Mason, Tim Snaylam and Martyn Walsh and their Golf GTIs hold top-nine championship slots, with P10 held by the youngest driver in the field, Zoe Wenham, who has just celebrated her 17th birthday.
Snetterton is set also to play host to the return of SEAT Cars UK MD Peter Wyhinny; he will drive the only non-Volkswagen in the field, the Leon Cupra.
In addition to title backer FUCHS Lubricants, the Volkswagen Racing Cup is supported by Hankook Tyres, Paragon, Milltek Sport, Superchips, Ceva Logistics and ECM Vehicle Delivery.
Provisional championship standings after Round 2
=1 Joe Fulbrook (Maidenhead/Bora) 86 points
=1 James Walker (Normanton/Golf) 86
3 Steve Chaplin (Maisemore/Beetle) 76
4 Richard Walker (Tuxford/Golf) 72
5 Steve Wood (Ashleworth/Golf) 64
6 Mike Kurton (Corse Lawn/Scirocco) 58
=7 Aaron Mason (Doncaster/Golf) 52
=7 Tim Snaylam (Bolton/Golf) 52
9 Martyn Walsh (Chipping Norton/Golf) 48
10 Zoe Wenham (Tewkesbury/Golf) 46 etc
Snetterton timetable
Saturday 14 May: Qualifying 1125, Race 1 1540
Sunday 15 May: Race 2 1205
Event & ticket details