Brands Hatch and Ola Nilsson – that’s a good fit. At the third race weekend of the 2012 Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup the Swede repeated the victory he had clinched last year. After a nail-biting 25 laps Nilsson relegated the German youngster Jonas Giesler, who had started from pole, and his fellow countryman Jann-Hendrik Ubben to the other podium places. Legends entrant Damon Hill, who had shown a strong performance in free practice, was forced to retire due to a technical defect.
As a Legends entrant, the 1996 Formula One World Champion, Hill, who had ended his motorsport career almost 13 years ago, made a one-off motorsport comeback in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup and for the benefit of his children’s charity “Halow” for which Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito presented a cheque in the amount of 10,000 euros. Five other legends – Martin Donnelly, Julian Bailey and Perry McCarthy, who together with Hill formed the legendary 1980s “Rat Pack” racers, plus Le Mans winner David Brabham added a further attraction to the field.
Both Giesler and Nilsson had made a good start into the race before the more experienced Nilsson prevailed against his seven-year-younger rival. Behind them the Legends drivers David Brabham, Mark Blundell and Martin Donnelly fought some thrilling duels in the top ten. One of the victims was Damon Hill, who after an incident of body contact was forced to retire from the race after seven leaps with a technical defect.
On podium Ola Nilsson was delighted to receive the winner’s trophy presented by Damon Hill and to assume the lead of the drivers’ standings. Behind Giesler, Ubben and Oestreich the 46-year-old Australian David Brabham finished as the best Legends driver in fifth place. Mark Blundell was another Legend to celebrate a superb result, in sixth place. Christopher Berckhan Ramirez (Mexico), Adam Gladysz, Jakub Litwin (both Poland) and Legends driver Martin Donnelly completed the top ten. Ex Formula One racer Perry McCarthy, also known as “the Stig” from the British cult series Top Gear, finished in 21st place. Julian Bailey completed the Legends field on position 23.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito:
This Scirocco R-Cup race will long be remembered by Volkswagen and the fans here at Brands Hatch. In Damon Hill and the ‘Rat Pack’ we had outstanding motorsport legends on the grid. For Volkswagen it is an honour that Damon Hill celebrated a one-off motorsport comeback after 13 years. What’s more, the race saw some thrilling duels of the stars and a deserving winner in Ola Nilsson.”
#33 Damon Hill
Qualifying: 11 – race retirement: “Even though I was unlucky in the race it was great to come back to motorsport here at Brands Hatch in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup. After the first few laps in practice I sensed that my feeling for racing is still with me. Shortly after the start my rear wheel was unfortunately hit. After that, the race was over early and I had to pit. Still, it was huge fun to compete together with the ‘Rat Pack’ Perry, Julian, Mark and Martin as retired racers – and, apart from that, it was a good opportunity to draw attention to the Halow project to which Volkswagen made a great donation in the amount of 10,000 euros. Thank you very much for this.”
#23 Ola Nilsson
Qualifying: 2 – race 1:“A fantastic feeling. I love to return to Brands Hatch. The track simply suits me. And it was extremely important to be on the front row. Besides taking victory it’s a great honour to be driving in England with legends such as Damon Hill or Mark Blundell. No other junior racing series in the world offers such opportunities.”
#35 Martin Donnelly
Qualifying: 10 – race 10:“This is a great series with hungry, talented young racers who obviously have no respect for age. Before the race we old colleagues engaged in some banter but no later than on the grid everything was like it used to be in the past. I’m pleased with tenth place. I had some brilliant duels in Paddock Hill Bend.”
#36 Julian Bailey
Qualifying: 26 – race 23: “I had a lonely fight with myself at the end of the field but enjoyed racing after such a long time nonetheless. The Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup is a tremendous junior series – perhaps the right one for me if I should ever decide to start a comeback.”