Well there was no shortage of action at the second Mondello race meeting of 2015! Unfortunately the timing system cried enough on Saturday, when some of the qualifying had been scheduled and all the classes, with the exception of the Formula Sheanes, who managed to qualify before the glitches arrived, had to decide whether to draw the grid from a hat, or as most decided, to line up as per current championship standings.
The Formula Vee qualifier was a cracker with Anthony Cross working hard to hold off the impressive Des Foley, the former gamer in the works Leastone trying everything to get by. Justin Costello, Gavin Buckley and Paula Moore all ran in the lead group too. Foley eventually made it stick round the outside at turn one but unfortunately Buckley went off at turn two around the same time and when the resultant red flags flew, Cross took the win on countback. In the Vee Final, poleman Kevin Grogan led away with Dan Polley keeping him honest. Ray Moore, starting well back as a legacy of his non finish at the recent Kirksitown round, made his way toward the front as Grogan, finding oil on track at the Esses, spun out of the lead handing it to Polley. Moore closed him down though and took the lead relatively easily on the main straight. Moore proceeded to pull away while Dave Kelly, in third, came under pressure from Des Foley, up from eighth on the grid. Foley took the place with a superb move down into turn one but Kelly fought back, replicating the move a couple of laps later. As the laps ran out it was Moore, with Polley having closed him down with a late race charge from Kelly and Foley with Colm Blackburn in fifth.
Ciaran Larkin led the Blackchurch Motors Fiesta qualifier away before Barry Barrable usurped him in the ex Sean Lillis championship winning car. Larkin was then helped through the final corner by Hugh Grennan and repaid the favour into turn one immediately. Michael Fitzgerald was able to avoid all the usual paint swapping and he climbed through the order, displacing Darragh McMullen for second before setting off in pursuit of leader Barrable. He managed to catch him with a few laps to run and we were treated to fine display of hard fair racing from the pair. Try as he might, the experienced Fitzgerald couldn’t find a gap and to his credit he didn’t make one. A lot of Fiesta drivers could learn from watching that battle!In the Fiesta Final poleman Barry Rabbitt and fellow front row occupant John Denning clashed on the way down to turn one with Denning appearing to spin himself across the bows of Rabbitt’s car as he tried to close the door. This left Denning stranded on the infield with Rabbitt leading. Early on the
safety car was deployed when Darren Lawlor ran wide at turn two- unsettling much of the pack and the unfortunate Dave Maguire was fired off into the barriers at high speed. Thankfully Dave was fine and when the safety car returned to the pitlane It was Rabbitt from Mondello’s Phil Lawless and Ulick Burke’s Tyre Brigade machine. Unusually for a Fiesta race, that’s the way it stayed to the flag, with Lawless appearing to be slightly quicker than Rabbitt but having to keep one eye on the mirrors for Burke.
Enda O’Connor qualified his Formula Sheane on pole with multiple and reigning champion Brian Heary alongside. When the lights went out, Dave Parks made a cracker of a start to almost draw alongside the leaders on the run to turn one. Unfortunately he ran out of road, had to take to the grass and connected with the leader O’Connor as he rejoined. The resultant shunt caused a race stoppage and eliminated a number of cars. As the cars came back to reform on the grid, we were missing Kevin Sheane, who appeared to go off at turn three. His car was recovered and the team tried to fix the damage before the restart. Parks did manage to rejoin the grid. Sheane’s team did get the car fixed and he rejoined a few laps in, but he received the black flag, perhaps a legacy of not being at the end of the pitlane when the race started. Back at the front, Hearty got the jump at the second time of asking and led away. He didn’t look to comfortable though and O’Connor began to pile the pressure on. This allowed Robbie Allen to join lead battle while Keith Hogg was uncorking a superb drive charging to fourth from stone last on the grid. Coming onto the main straight mid race, O’Connor lost drive and ground to a halt, depriving us of seeing a great battle all the way to the flag. At the same time, Hogg got the switchback on Allen at the final turn and made it stick into turn one, earning himself an impressive runner up spot. At the flag then, it was yet another win for Hearty, from Hogg and Allen.
In race two, former Punto Abarth star Richie Kearney got a flier of a start from the second row to lead the pack down to the first corner. O’Connor soon closed him down though and reasserted himself on the main straight. When Kearney made a mistake at turn three, Hearty was through with Kevin Sheane next on the list. O’Connot held on for the win, from Sheane and Kearney? As for Hearty, he broke a driveshaft on the last lap but somehow managed to coast as far as the main straight. Viewers to Mondello TV were shown just how much Brian Hearty wants championship number 11 (yes- eleven!!) as he dismounted and proceeded to push his car to the line to claim the final championship point. Marshalls, officials, and the commentary team all cheered and applauded as he crossed the line- adding to the Dundalk haulier’s legendary status!
Paul Dagg, stepping in for Tim Buckley, qualified his Dallara F3 car on pole for the Dalco BOSS race with Cian Carey’s latest spec Formula Renault alongside. Carey somehow got ahead on the run to turn on and immediately went defensive. Dagg had a run round the outside at SEAT corner but Carey hung on. The pair rang almost side by side down the main straight at the end of the lap with the spectacular Martin Daly right with them in his Formula Renault. Daly spectacularly outbraked both of them into turn one to briefly lead before it became apparent he had also outbraked himself too! Carey grabbed the lead back on the exit but Dagg had no option but to slot in behind Daly. Dagg took second back at the final corner on the same lap but meanwhile Clive Heak in the hugely powerful Juno had caught the lead trio and almost immediately displaced Daly into turn one for third. Daly tried a lurid run round the outside of turn three to regain the place but Heak was not being too generous with the tarmac, as the saying goes, and Daly fell back. Carey was hanging on gamely out the front but eventually Dagg got the run through the second corner, got alongside on the run to turn three and bravely made it stick on the entry of the first part. Meanwhile Daly reclaimed third from Heak with a late dive down the inside at the final corner, but the pair clashed on the exit and superior power of the Juno blasted it ahead again. When the rear suspension collapsed on Noel Roddy’s car coming into the Esses, the safety car was again despatched. When the racing recommenced, It was Dagg, Carey and Heak, and that’s how it stayed to the flag.
The Future Classics picked the grid from a hat but when the lights went out, it was Sophie Byrne who rocketed off the second row to lead the pack away. Probably mindful of the fact that the timing system was not in operation and therefore the dreaded time barrier was not enforcible, the former Junior Rallycross champion got the head down and pulled away. Timothy Duggan’s ex rally SEAT was charging through the pack though, its vastly superior straightline speed making the rest easy prey before he began the task of chasing down the leader. Oliver Devlin’s Punto blew up in a big way early on though, bringing out the Safety Car (yes, again!) and negating Sophie’s advantage. Duggan looked as if he could blast by but as they crossed the line he slowed with what sounded like gearbox or drive issues. The battle for second was superb with Ian Thornton’s Mk1 Golf GTi, Aidan Byrne’s Punto and Dave Hammond’s Uno battling hammer and tongs. Unfortunately for Sophie, she was the first to discover oil at turn three, the resultant spin dropping her to fourth and giving the battling trio a chance of a win. After some strong defence, Thornton just took it, by a bumper from Aidan Byrne and a delighted Hammond. Sophie had closed right up on the leaders too, crossing the line a close fourth.
With saloon legend, (or “veteran” as JK called him in The Star on the run up to the race,) Michael Cullen joining the Micksgarage ITCC grids in a Murray Motorsport tended SEAT Supercup, there were always going to be sparks! In race one, Kevin Doran got away well in his Civic, the SEATs once again proving to be difficult to launch when the lights went out. Rod McGovern was first of the SEATs and quickly began to carve through the ITCC regulars, no doubt mindful letting Doran away. Niall Quinn was also showing well on his saloon debut, shadowing McGovern despite his relative lack of his experience. Eoghan Fogarty couldn’t hold McGovern back but it took Quinn slightly longer to deal with the ex Holstein M3, allowing McGovern away. Quinn finally got the job done at the final turn by which time McGovern, driving Brian Berry’s car for the weekend, had caught Doran and was trying everything in the book to get by. Quinn closed down the leaders, bringing imressive Fiesta graduate Barry English with him as the SEATs queued up behind Doran’s Civic. McGovern eventually took the lead, around the outside at the final corner. When Quinn replicated the move a lap later, he clashed with Doran and the Civic was sent off into the barriers on the main straight, with both retiring as a result. McGovern then, took the win, from the impressive English with Cullen in third. In race two, once restarted, Doran again led away with McGovern again trying to carve his way through and both Cullen and Quinn right on his bumper. Cullen displaced McGovern but then tangled with Fogarty’s M3 in a controversial incident that saw the Bavarian machine launched into the tyrewall, sustaining heavy damage. This gave Doran a break but the safety car (the mileage of which much have doubled during the day) was despatched, swiftly followed by a red flag. On the restart, Doran again got away but in his haste to get away from the SEATS, he put a wheel off on the exit of turn two, costing him vital time. Quinn was right with him at the time and held a lurid slide as he grabbed the lead for the first time. McGovern grabbed second but yet again it was about to kick off behind. Team mates Cullen and English got very physical with both touching at turn two, and unfortunately Doran was caught up in this and yet again found himself nerfed off the track and into the barrier, this time at high speed. It didn’t end there though as Cullen and English made contact again coming on the the straight before clashing heavily at high speed right in front of the grandstand with Cullen sent spinning off in what could have been a huge one. McGovern pushed hard but a remarkably composed Quinn appeared to have it all in hand and took the chequered flag with a few lengths to spare.
Michael Doyle timed it to perfection to beat his HRCA competitors down to turn one. He held on for a lap and a half before poleman Bernard Foley took it back with a brave move around the outside the outside at turn three. Foley, predictably made good his escape but Stevie Griffin, clearly on the limit as ever, never stopped challenging Doyle, despite the BDG powered Elan being far quicker in a straightline than Griffin’s Modsport Midget. When Foley retired mid race, this became a battle for the win but Doyle drove well and held off the Midget to the end. Matt Dunne was third with Wolfgang Schnittger leading home the Joe Flynn Trophy contenders after a cracking battle with class returnee Jonathan White. After the race, Griffin was presented with a trophy from the IMRC to mark an incredible 50 years in competition. He clearly hasn’t got any slower in recent years either!.
The Baker Automotive Strykers gave great entertainment with, as usual, multiple class champion Alan Watkins leading away. He soon came under pressure from regular challengers Dave Griffin and Alan Auerbach. As Griffin dropped with mechanical problems, Auerbach piled on the pressure before eventually making it stick mid race after a superb battle between the pair- and hanging on for the win. Griffin completed the podium and avoided a major slagging by golding off brother Darren who finished fourth In race two it was more of the same with the duo battling mightily for the honours. They were joined in this one though by Mark Baker, the series sponsor showing he can run with the big boys now- and probably throwing his name into the hat for the title race to boot. The class have introduced a Celebrity Car this year and Ian Beatty was in the hotseat for the weekend. He struggled with traction issues over the weekend but had an absolute ball and was delighted to “avoid the slagging” by taking sixth in both races!
Global GTs made their return to Mondello and Mark “Boris” Twomey (not looking a bit rusty having taken a year out) got the jump to lead race one strongly early on. After all the usual Global scraps however, it was Bernie Braden who took first blood from Ivor Miller with Twomey completing the podium in third. Reigning champion Paul Fitzpatrick is always great to watch and loves to drive these machine sideways. It seems to work too as he was first across the line in the second race from Miller and Braden with Twomey demoted to fourth and another class returnee Pat Murphy in fifth.
all in all an action packed days racing from Mondello and we have kirkistown this coming weekend and Bishopscourt on 9/10 May to look forward to- as well as the Tynagh Rallycross on the 10th of course!
until next time
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