My Fiesta Junior Debut- with Jack Byrne

The first car race meeting of 2015 has come and gone at what felt to me like the speed of light. As you may know, there were many new and exciting classes introduced to us this year, one being the Blackchurch Motors Fiesta Junior championship that caters for young drivers between 14-17 years old.

Upon arrival for afternoon testing on Saturday, it was a bit disappointing to be told that there was only myself and one other driver entered for the weekend. However, once testing began it was time to get to work and drop the lap times considerably. Having only done about ten laps previous to Saturday afternoon, the first session was, admittedly, a bit messy. When the chequered flag came out I went to look at the on board footage. After some deliberation, it was decided that the fault was with the driver. The second session yielded much quicker lap times and as a result my confidence in the car I had beneath me grew. As the day came to an end, I went out for one more gallop as the sun came down. At a time when I was least expecting it, the rear of the car swapped ends with the front at the first part of Duckhams. I ended up facing in the opposite direction looking back at the apex of the corner. This was a real brown trousers moment and I knew I had to re-evaluate the way in which I entered the corner. All in all, the afternoon of testing taught me a lot about the car and the way it handled.

Race day came and after passing scrutiny, it was time to go out and set a time in qualifying. As I was one of only two fiesta’s out, it was very hard to set a decent time, the reason being that we (me and fellow Fiesta Junior driver Adam Geraghty) were being passed by the more powerful Ginettas after about three laps. This stalled progress as is evident by the time sheets. My quickest lap (1:14.1) was set within the first five minutes of qualifying. When I got out of the car after qualifying I was very happy to hear that I had done enough to be on pole position. Time passed and nerves grew, the build up to the race felt like it went on forever and it very nearly did. The call was made to re-schedule the Ginetta and Fiesta Junior race till after the lunch break due to the accident between the two Seat Leons.

We returned after lunch and it was straight out for the warm up lap. With the cars in their grid positions the five second board was shown, followed by the lights on the bridge. As they went out I could see that Adam had got the jump on me and was pulling away. Thankfully though, I had the inside line for turn one and managed to get ahead. After roughly three or four laps of keeping a close eye on the mirrors I could see the Ginettas of James Roe and Jordan Dempsey coming around to overtake. Thankfully it went smoothly enough and they got by with minimal speed loss. Going down the main straight after letting more of the quicker Ginettas by, I could see on the timer that there was only two minutes to go. I can admit that it was very difficult to maintain concentration for the fifteen minute duration of the race, perhaps I wasn’t going quick enough?! Three laps later I saw the chequered flag and was delighted to win my first ever race! Adam also drove a great race and was never far behind.

My time in qualifying thankfully meant that I was on pole for race two. Yet again, I got bogged down at the start and

Holding onto the lead- and staying away from the Ginettas! Image from Con Connolly.

Holding onto the lead- and staying away from the Ginettas! Image from Con Connolly.

just about managed not to clip the rear of Morgan Quinn going into turn one. A couple of laps later the Ginettas were coming around to put a lap on Adam and myself. It was a case of just beckoning them on through whenever possible so as not to compromise their race. By this stage I had found a turn of pace and tried to pull out a gap. Towards the end of the race, I had a few lock ups going into the esses and also into turn one so I was once again delighted to see the chequered flag and to win race two! Again Adam drove very well and I believe also got championship points.

Overall it was a fantastic first weekends racing. This wouldn’t have happened without the support of my parents who have backed me (and sponsored me!) all the way and for that I’d like to thank them a lot. Also to my uncles Rory and John who have guided me along the way, without them I wouldn’t be racing. Finally, to the Beatty family who have shown nothing but support and kindness, thank you! I’m sure we can all agree that the commentary by Leo Nulty and Jim Halligan was second to none thanks lads! Lastly to the Fiesta co-ordinator Jenny Senior who has put up with numerous e-mails over the last while thanks for all the help! I’m already looking forward to the next round and hopefully there will be more cars out as well. (Photos courtesy of Con Connolly)

Jack Byrne

Fiesta Junior Championship