Virgin Mobile Cup: Tom Grant crowned Virgin Mobile Cup Champion 2006 at Silverstone September 18, 2006
The Virgin Mobile Cup race at Silverstone had more than just a race victory up for grabs this weekend. The entire Virgin Mobile Cup championship could be won or lost at the Northamptonshire circuit.
Before the race, series leader 18 year old Tom Grant had a 19 point lead over second-placed Matthew Whitman from Swindon. With 25 points available for a race win, if Grant secured a podium spot he would be crowned Virgin Mobile Cup champion 2006 and win himself a place in Team Virgin Mobile for next season.
But there were 12 laps of serious, close and exciting racing to get through.
Youngest man in the Virgin Mobile Cup this year, James Webb had secured himself a fantastic pole position by just 0.042 second in the Saturday qualifying session over Tom Grant.
As the lights went out, Grant got a thunderous start and snatched the holeshot from James Webb then the pair along with Northern Irish rider, BJ Toal built up an early lead over the chasing pack which included Matthew Whitman.
James Webb and BJ Toal were chasing down race-leader Tom Grant and it was 17 year old Webb who eventually got past Grant and pulled away. Toal followed Webb’s example and was making ground on Tom Grant and then passed him early on in the race.
But then, disaster struck for Matthew Whitman when he and Graeme Gowland had a coming together and Whitman came off worst and crashed out uninjured. The determined Whitman remounted Yamaha YZF-R6 and rejoined the race in eleventh place with the job of picking off his fellow Cup riders.
The message that Whitman had crashed was passed on to Tom Grant through his pit board and Grant knew if he stayed in a podium spot he had won the Championship.
Meanwhile, there was a battle for fifth place between Midge Smart and Graeme Gowland with some swapping of paintwork and some fantastic racing. Gowland got the better of him and built up a two second lead over Smart.
At chequered flag it was James Webb who after a flying few lap took a well deserved victory, more than three seconds in front of BJ Toal. Tom Grant grabbed that all important third place and therefore the Virgin Mobile Cup title for 2006.
Tom Grant said: “That was a fantastic race, Webby and BJ rode so well and didn’t make it easy for me. It won’t hit me for quite a while that I have actually won the Virgin Mobile Cup! I now have an important decision to make whether to ride Superbike or Supersport next year, but at the moment I am thinking Superbike.”
Race winner James Webb said: “I am happy to get my second win of the year and will try my hardest at Brands Hatch to make it three. Me and BJ Toal had a good battle throughout the race and I am learning loads as the year goes on.”
Second Place BJ Toal said: “It is it my second time on the podium and it has been a long time coming. I am pleased for Tom Grant and I will be applying to do the Virgin Mobile Cup again for next year, it has taught me so much and it is a fantastic way to get noticed.”
Rob Mac, series organiser said: “Again we had another fantastic race! BJ and James Webb have really shown what talent there is on offer in the series and of course Tom Grant has now been crowned Virgin Mobile Cup Champion 2006. We are looking forward to the season finale at Brands Hatch and welcoming Tom officially to the Team.”
1. James Webb 19:07.150
2. BJ Toal +3.670
3. Tom Grant +11.140
4. Graeme Gowland +15.191
5. Midge Smart +17.276
6. Leon Morris +22.455
7. Simon Deaville +29.013
8. Jimmy Hill +29.573
9. Olie Linsdell +39.246
10. Matthew Whitman +43.540.