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Terrific Thompson seals maiden VW Cup win

The eighteen year-old Team HARD driver dominated qualifying and scorched away to a massive six second lights to flag victory in round 13 of Britain’s best-supported one-make saloon car championship, breaking the lap record by more than half a second as he became one of the youngest winners in the history of the prestigious championship.

Having earned his first podium finish of the season at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and then recovering from a clutch problem to fly through the field in the most recent round at Brands Hatch, Bobby brought his #19 VW Golf GTI R Cup car to the 2.96-mile Snetterton circuit full of confidence. But not even his most ardent supporter could have envisaged just how well the penultimate weekend of the 16 round championship would go.

Under the watchful eyes of the Avon Tyres British GT teams Bobby blitzed the field during Saturday’s qualifying session to seal pole position with only defending series champion Joe Fulbrook able to get within four-tenths of a second of the flying #19 machine. But after his start line issues last time out at Brands Hatch, Bobby admitted to feeling slightly nervous ahead of the start of the first 30-minute race of the weekend on Sunday morning.

“Our plan was to make sure I got the start right,” said Thompson, who is one of the UK’s youngest ARDS qualified race instructors. “All the way round the rolling lap I was being careful not to boil the clutch fluid but when the lights changed I made one of my best starts of the year.”

After making a near perfect getaway Bobby controlled the race masterfully, pulling away from the rest of the field lap after lap, breaking the lap record by a massive nine-tenths of a second before taking the chequered flag by a resounding six-seconds, the biggest winning margin in the championship this year.

“When I saw that I wouldn’t have to defend into the first corner, I knew I could get a break and that’s how it worked,” beamed Bobby, who becomes the first member of the Team HARD Young Driver Programme to score a race win. “I said after qualifying, if I could get the lead I would be able to keep it. 

“I knew I had a quick car and so I tried to back off as much as possible during the middle of the race to save my tyres as I knew I would have to use the same set for race two. I couldn’t ease off by much as I didn’t want to lose my rhythm and concentration.”

Crossing the line for the final time, the TV cameras caught the full extent of Bobby’s celebrations although Bobby admitted that it didn’t really sink in that he was a race winner at first. 

“”It didn’t really register that I had won until I passed the chequered flag but when the adrenaline subsided I realised just how hard a race it was even though I was running on my own. There was a lot of shouting and punching the steering wheel and then there was a sense of relief. 

“I’ve been so lucky with my sponsors this year, especially Hampson Haulage and Nicky Grist from Stilo Helmets and this is the perfect way to thank them.”

Starting race two from sixth on the grid on old tyres and with maximum success ballast, Bobby knew that his chances of another strong result were slim but in front of the live Motors TV cameras he was still able to put on a sterling show to come home in seventh place after a race long five car scrap.

“Race two was an all out war from start to finish,” added Bobby, who cemented tenth place in the championship standings. “My car was so heavy I had to defend coming out of every corner but even though everyone else was on new tyres and I was on old ones I was still able to stay with them.”

The final two rounds of the championship take place at Donington Park and, with his confidence soaring, Bobby is looking forward to a successful end of season.

“The success ballast will come out for Donington Park and I know the circuit well so I’m looking to end the year on the podium at least, who knows, maybe another win or two!”

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