As you probably know, I am pretty vocal about the things I don’t like in motorsport. The blatent cheating in Fiestas for example, the same people constantly crashing into other drivers and especially some of the horrific stories I hear at almost every meeting from the scrutiny bay. (Did you know a driver was told by an MI Scrutineer not to use one of Mondello’s extinguishers to put out a fire under the bonnet of his Fiesta in parc ferme after the June race? He was told that the onboard extinguisher was in the car for a reason…)
Anyway, there is more than one article in the above so I will move on to something that makes me far happier. Two meetings ago Barry Barrable and Michael Fitzgerald fought tooth and nail for the Blackchurch Fiesta qualifier race. almost unbelievably, there was no contact. It was great racing but the veteran tin top drivers showed huge respect for each other and crossed the line almost as one. At the last Mondello race meeting, we were treated to
more of the same- and wasn’t it just fantastic? Brendan Fitzgerald, Barry Rabbitt and Stephen Kirwan made it a three way battle at the head of the Fiesta final and they really did go at it for the duration. Once again, they stayed apart and as they said afterwards in the interviews, they were giving each other a Fiesta’s width and very little more. It really was great to watch and made great TV too. As Brendan Fitzgerald said, nobody wants to be spending their time and money fixing bodywork between races, it’s nice to be able to put the car back on the trailer the same way it arrived. Rabbitt took the honours in both, but Fitzgerald will surely try to get his revenge next time out with the far less experienced Kirwan surely now looking for the top stop of the podium now too.
Paul Dagg ran away and hid from the small grid of “BOSS” cars but in race two, we were treated to an incredible dice between Cian Carey and Darragh Daly, with the pair right on the limit for the duration. Carey appeared to be quicker and eventually made the move stick but Daly was right back at him. They stayed apart until the closing stages when slight contact at turn one damaged Carey’s front wing and as they crossed the line, it was Daly by a fraction- but they had both impressed us greatly. Races like that remind me why I love this sport so much and maybe that explains why I’m so vocal about the earlier issues. Great job by the organisers of the class too, with Dagg winning €1,000 cash for the win and Carey and Daly getting a few quid too- (kudos to Daly for quietly handing his share over to Laura Lynn by the way.)
The final Micksgarage.com ITCC race was another absolute cracker. One make racing is great but you just can’t beat seeing three very different cars having a real go- with very similar results. Rob Savage has been impressive all year and Eoghan Fogarty seems to be getting a good handle on his immaculate REA Autofactors backed BMW M3, whilst Shane Rabbitt’s lurid orange Mazda RX-7 has been at the sharp end for the last few meetings too. Time Attack Champion Dean Reilly gave them all a fright in race one, taking the honours in his immaculate Civic with when he slid off at the final corner early on, the intrepid trio were free to fight for the win- and fight they did, with
Savage driving the race of his life to hang on for the win, all three crossing the line bumper to bumper. There were good scraps in the Touring (Please rename this “Production” lads!) class with the spectacular Ian O’Driscoll and Grzegorz Kalinecki going at it. In race two Kalinecki moved the goalposts for the class somewhat, recording an incredible 1:02.9, prompting many to ask what the Sportchip.ie built SEAT would do on slicks. (Watch this space!) In both races Nicole Drought joined them on the podium, even beating Kalinecki to the line in race one.
Ray Moore took another Formula Vee win and inched closer to what looks like yet another title. an on form Dan Polley challenged him hard but both much surely must have been surprised when they looked in their mirrors mid race. Moore’s wife Paula has progressed well in her Leastone this year. Now run by Newsome Motorsport, she won the Vee qualifier but in the A race she chased down the leading trio, even displacing Jimmy Newsome for third. She looked like a sure bet to join the hubby on the podium before Furlong managed to snatch the place back, but Paula still managed an impressive fourth, this group crossing the line well ahead of the rest. Formula Vee continues to provide close competitive racing and Ray Moore provides an excellent yardstick with which to measure any young contenders.
Future Classics provides large, diverse grids and great racing. I had a chat with Aidan Byrne over the weekend and he said that despite some people suggesting they should knock a second off the class barrier
time (currently 1:09.5 on the National Circuit) it is staying unchanged. Aidan says if they reduce the time, then the cars will get quicker and they will soon have a similar issue again. He is probably right plus, as they say across the pond, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That said, there are quite obviously a lot of tactics being used to avoid breaking the barrier time. From the casual observers point of view though, the racing is superb with about 8 or 9 potential winners at each meeting. David Hammond somehow managed to win race one last time out in his little 1300cc Uno- probably the lowest powered car in the field. Interestingly Hammond was one of the team who originally introduced the Uno Cup to Ireland back in 1992. The series was manufacturer backed when it started and competitors each received £100 start money at each round! Series organiser Ken Byrne was deighted to win race two in his 205 GTI, having failed to start at the previous meeting!
Stephen Doyle’s beautiful Chevron gave best to Jackie Cochrane’s rumbling Tiger in the first HRCA race, but in race two, Doyle was far more determined and held on to inflict a rare defeat on the V8 monster. In their wake a battle raged with Michael Doyle in the BDG Elan and the incredible Steve Griffin in the Liam Plower owned Modsport Midget. That Midget ran at the front end of the Modsport class in the 70s and early 80s at Mondello Park and still holds the class record at 1:04.4 – Steve is lapping about two seconds under this, despite running the road legal treaded tyres as required by the class. Clearly neither Steve, nor the Midget have got any slower with age!
Ginetta Junior Ireland is all about James Roe and Jordan Dempsey this year and once again they were at the
sharp end at Mondello. Roe had the upper hand though, claiming pole in both races. Dempsey made great starts to lead away but Roe, driving with a new found confidence found his way by on both occasions and also claimed a new lap record on the way. After a red flag, the second race was incorrectly restarted and when the pair came together, Darragh Denning snatched the lead and held on to what had looked like an impressive win. Unfortunately for Darragh, this “race” was later scrapped but he has posted notice of his intentions. Darragh has an impressive karting pedigree and also, like Roe and Dempsey, comes from a motorsport family so as the saying goes, he didn’t lick it off the stones!
Until the next time,
all Images from Michael Chester.