On Sunday the 10th of May the County Kildare Motor Club and the Pallas Karting Centre teamed up to host round 3 of the McLoughlins industrial Flooring Irish Rallycross Championship.
The plans for the new Rallycross circuit were almost a year in the making but it was worth the effort for all involved. The excitement started building a few weeks out from the event as driver after driver sent in there entry forms to be the first to compete and the new western venue and relished the challenges and diversity the new circuit would provide.
The old Rallycross veterans turned up in their droves then a few old faces showed up we hadn’t seen in a while like Derek Tohill, Don Shannon, Willy Farrell and Fergal Bowes. There were new faces in the paddock too with local driver Brian Martyn making his Rallycross debut in the Junior class and Geoffrey Dolan making his first appearance in the Irish Championship in the ex Evans 4WD Opel Astra super car. A number of local Rally drivers came down for a go in the Rallycar class too. David Quigley and Paul Curly double drove a Subaru Impeza while John Walsh, Des Lyons and Daniel McNamee gave their Honda Civics a good a run on the mixed surface circuit all coming back with smiles on their faces.
The circuit threw up a few surprises. Despite being a narrower track than Mondello there was overtaking all day in a number of different turns. A first glances most drivers said that this was going to be a power circuit with the extra long back straight and the 2 smaller straights and BHP would be all important. Then once the racing began it became clear that this is a very technical circuit. The turns are very difficult to master and anyone who got the entry wrong found themselves down a position or two on the exit. This is a circuit that works the drivers very hard. You have to be very focused and switched on to get it right. You need to be patient with the throttle through the bends and make the most of your horse power down the straights. If you carry too much speed in to the tight curves you will sacrifice all your exit speed and leave the door wide open, carry too little speed in and you’ll find the car behind you up the inside in the blink of an eye.
The drivers were treated to a dry practice and 2 dry heats but what ever they had learned in the morning had to be re learned in the afternoon as the heavens opened and changed the conditions dramatically. The track got very slippy and a number of experienced drivers found themselves over shooting at the end of the very quick straight. 2 times European Champion Derek Tohill amongst the victims of the lack of grip along with the modified A Final pole sitter Tommy Graham. The vastly experienced Kildare man got caught out at the end of the start finish straight after setting the pace for the modifieds all day.
The last bend, which is a hairpin, played host to a lot of drama over the day. Pat Ryan lost 2nd place in the super final to the very talented and skillful Willie Coyne on the last lap by making a very small error while Paddy Bateman suffered the same fate in the 8 valve final losing his lead to Championship leader Peter McGarry and then losing his 2nd place to the ever determined Damien Farrell.
In the end it was Donegals Geoffrey Dolan who took the honours in the super Final from Willie Coyne and A final winner Pat Ryan. It was a thrilling days racing in all classes with over taking a plenty, high drama and very little contact or damage with only 2 retirements from the 51 starters. Ian Byrne and Dan Dowling both retiring with engine trouble but other than that they all come back in much the same condition they arrived.
The new Circuit in Tynagh Co Galway has put itself on the map and left the drivers with plenty to think about for the next day.It’s a circuit that offers both challenges and opportunity’s in its technical corners as well as high speed racing on the long straights where the bravery of the late breakers can be punished or rewarded in matter of mili seconds. All in all this is a circuit that both drivers and spectators will love. It has all the elements required for great door to door racing,plenty of over taking,high speed straights and uninterrupted views of the whole circuit no matter where you park yourself.
The next round of The McLoughlins Industrial Flooring Irish Rallycross Championship is a double header of both the British and Irish Championships in Mondello Park on the 27th/ 28th of June followed by a return to the Tynagh on August 23rd for round 6. Lets hope the weather is kinder to us next time!!
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Images from John Delaney and Sarah Byrne