HUGE PROGRESS FOR VW ROOKIE TILLETT DURING CHAMPIONSHIP OPENER
Laura Tillett made a big impression on her saloon car racing debut in the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup at Oulton Park International Circuit over the Easter weekend, rounding out her first event in the ultra-competitive championship with a best result of 13th position in the third and final race.
Making big strides throughout the race meeting, the Team HARD driver got faster and faster across the three Oulton Park races and is now targeting a top 10 challenge when the category resumes at Rockingham in Northamptonshire in early May.
“We made a massive improvement through the weekend, I’m really happy”, said the Sittingbourne racer, “I would love to have been in the top 10, but you can’t ask for everything and race three really was fantastic. It’s been a really good start for me and I know there’s so much more to come.”
Piloting a Volkswagen Golf GTi, the 23-year-old started the weekend well in the damp-but-drying qualifying session on Saturday, 4th April, but a loss of third gear halted her progress and she had to settle for 20th position on the grid for race one.
Unfortunately, the initial race start was red flagged almost immediately when a mid-pack tangle resulted in two stranded cars. Maintaining her composure, Laura made a good getaway at the second time of asking but was shuffled back to 22nd place as the pack jostled for position.
Moving up a spot at the expense of the spinning Michael Epps on lap two, she continued her recovery and had broken back into the top 20 with three laps to run. Following an excursion for Chris Panayiotou at Shell Oils Hairpin on the penultimate tour, Laura then moved into 19th position.
Following a day’s rest on Easter Sunday, the VW Cup was back in action on Monday, 6th April, for round two with the drivers starting in their finishing positions from round one. Making a terrific getaway, Laura climbed into 16th position and sized-up a pass on Epps for 15th going into lap two.
Frustratingly, her hard work was undone after an enforced slip back to 18th place but she recovered strongly and reeled in Mark Smith’s VW Scirocco at a rapid rate. Taking 17th place soon after, Laura continued to improve her pace and remained there to the chequered flag.
Race three was undoubtedly the highlight and after starting in 20th position, a brief battle over 19th ensued before Laura progressed towards the middle order. Climbing into 16th position by lap seven, she made the breakthrough into the top 15 a lap later and continued to set personal best lap times. Holding 15th into the final lap, she gained two more places before the flag to cap a superb drive.
“Everybody said it wouldn’t be easy coming into VWs from single-seaters, it’s a whole different thing from what I’ve been used to”, said Laura, “There’s the front-wheel drive, I’ve had to learn that, the car is bigger, so there’s more weight to throw around, and the racing is so much closer. By the third race today I was so confident in the car and it was a great race for me.
“We concentrated on making little tweaks to the set-up instead of anything big, I knew there was a lot of time in myself and that was, realistically, where the big improvements would come from – and they did. It’s been a really good start to the season, I’m feeling confident for Rockingham and I think it will suit the Golf more and even things out with the Sciroccos.”
Next on the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup calendar is a visit to Rockingham, near Corby in Northamptonshire, over the weekend 2nd/3rd May.