Kildare’s Jake Byrne sealed the 2015 NI FF1600 Championship with two charging drives at Mondello Park on Sunday.
With all the quickest FF1600 competitors chasing the Vivion Daly Trophy, the class’s first visit of 2015 to Mondello Park was always going to be hugely competitive. As many predicted, Jake Byrne, Jonny McMullan and 2014 Trophy winner Rob Barrable set the pace in testing. In qualifying, the trio were again closely matched with McMullan taking pole with Jake second, just 4 hundredths of a second off, and Barrable third. In race one, Jake found himself boxed out at turn one and dropped to third, his problems compounded by an off track moment at turn three, dropping him to fourth. Undeterred, he quickly regained third and put the head down and by mid race had halved the gap to the leaders with a succession of fastest laps. In the closing stages, McMullan, with Barrable and Jake closing, spun off at turn three, handing the win to Barrable, with Jake crossing the line less than a second behind after a superb recovery drive.
In race two, for the Vivion Daly trophy, the grid was the same but Jake was to give himself a lot of work as he was slow on the run to the first corner, dropping to third. McMullan led away and seemed to be stretching his lead as the race progressed. Jake had other ideas however, quickly chasing Barrable down for second, taking the place with a dive down the inside at turn one. His attentions then turned to the leader and incredibly he reeled McMullan in from quite a distance back, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. With two laps to run, Jake’s Challenger Lighting backed Ray was right under the gearbox of McMullan’s Motorsport Ireland Van Diemen and the crowd were on their feet. A slow exit from the last corner from McMullan was all Jake needed and as the pair headed for the chequered flag he drew alongside. McMullan crossed the line ahead, by a fraction, in what many judged to be the race of the day at the Kildare venue. Jake’s pair of second places though, were all he needed to win the 2015 NI FF1600 Championship, a series he has won in 7 times this year.
Jake Byrne: “A little bit bittersweet today. I am delighted to pay back my sponsors and team with the championship title we worked so hard for. That said, we had the pace to win today and that’s always the aim. ABR gave me a great car and we showed we were quicker than the rest, the cards didn’t fall in our favour at the starts though.”
Jake was running E Fox.ie decals at the weekend, having signed up for their Chequered Flag Promotion recently.
Jake Byrne’s next race is at Silverstone next weekend.
Images from Michael Chester.