At this time of the year, with the season all but finished and the Leinster Trophy just around the corner, the talk is generally about previous winners. Senna is the most famous of course, but five time Grand Prix winner John Watson and double World Champion Mika Hakkinnen also hoisted the famous trophy above their heads in the past. 1958 World Champion Mike Hawthorn is also on the list, as is the marmite-esque Eddie Jordan!
By Sunday evening, one of our young FF1600 drivers will have added their names to the exclusive list. In recent years, a lot of people have not been happy with domestic classes competing for the Leinster Trophy, but with few overseas classes visiting in recent recessionary times, there was little choice for the Leinster Motor Club- and they should be commended for not decommissioning it and putting it in a dusty cabinet somewhere. This year, the FF1600 class do battle for it and although the class has been a bit of a shambles this year, we have some really quick guys doing battle on Sunday. Jonny McMullan has been doing a great job all year in the Motorsport Ireland car, his prize for winning the Young Driver Award last year, and having won at Mondello last time out , he will be looking for the big one. Jake Byrne however, will have other ideas. The Trinity engineering student has been utterly dominant in Kirkistown in 2015, broke the Silverstone lap record earlier in the year, and hauled in McMullan from
quite a distance back after a bad start at Mondello in July. Sounds like a good battle doesn’t it? Well I’m not finished yet! Stephen Daly is back to defend the trophy, which he won last year, and as his recent Silverstone win showed, he is in no way ring rusty and should be capable of putting it up to the above pairing! Even more exciting is the news that Cliff Dempsey Racing return to Mondello Park this weekend, bringing with them Festival winner James Raven and UK frontrunner Patrick Dussault. Cliff has now established his eponymous team as one of, if not the, top FF1600 team in the UK and those two boys have proven pedigree so expect them to be in the mix too. There is talk of Niall Murray coming back out in the Murray Motorsport Van Diemen with which his won the 2014 Formula Ford Festival in Brands Hatch too, which should add further spice to proceedings. Hard to pick a winner from that lot isn’t it? One is for sure though, whoever lifts that trophy above their head on Sunday afternoon will have well and truly earned it! Best of luck to all!
In most of the other classes it is championship deciding time too. Eoghan Fogarty holds the overall Micksgarage.com ITCC series lead in his RAE Autofactors ex Holstein BMW M3 just 9 points ahead of the Integra mounted Rob Savage. In the 2.0 class, Owain Drought heads Savage with just 8 points separating them. All eyes will be on the Touring Class though, where Grzegorz Kalinecki heads the title race in his unusual Sportchip.ie SEAT Leon Cupra R. The team have been working hard on the car lately and have removed more weight and reliveried the car with Turboman logos for the series finale. 21 year old Nicole Drought has impressed in her debut season and lies second in her Integra, ahead of Steven Dunne and Ian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll has no rounds to drop however, effectively moving him to second and has shown enough pace to beat Kalinecki on occasion.
In Formula Vee, Ray Moore would appear to be on the cusp of another title, but Dan Polley has kept him honest this year and could pounce if Moore hits trouble. Kevin Grogan has race winning pace but troubles have damaged his title efforts and he lies in a distant third. Two less experienced drivers could easily get involved in the battle at the front this weekend though. Moore’s wife Paula has been a revelation this year, running now with the crack Newsome Racing squad and at the last meeting she caught the leaders and briefly looked like she could hassle both Polley and the hubby before crossing the line a fine fourth. Des Foley has also been hugely impressive this year in the works Leastone, wrapping up the Star Of Tomorrow title by mid season and now has his eyes firmly set on the big boys. Anthony Cross leads the Crowne Plaza Dundalk B championship by just one point from Justin Costello with Paula Moore a further three points back and arguably the quickest of the trio on current form, so that will be worth keeping an eye on too!
Sean Doyle hit trouble on his last few ASK Supercar outings and with Peter Barrable now well ahead in the title chase, has chosen to sit out this weekend. Barrable needs a top four finish in race one to clinch the title, and says if he does he will “go for it” in race two. I don’t doubt him. Bob Cameron can still win the title but has had engine issues in the last few rounds, compounded by a misfire too. Should Cameron’s car be on song, nobody on the grid will be more determined to take a win. Late to the series, Graeme Colfer is a proven winner and he too, is on the entry list and keen to add to his win tally. Definitely another class worth watching….
Barry Rabbitt leads the Blackchurch Fiesta series and has done most of the winning this year. Brendan Fitzgerald and Steven Kirwan have a tad more pace lately so the former Leinster Trophy winner will need to use all his guile if his Blackchurch Motors team are to take their first championship home this weekend. As ever expect, packed grids and close racing from the budget tin tops. There will also be one of the new Fiesta STs in the paddock over the weekend as Mondello Park and instigator Barry Barrable russle up some interest in the 150bhp cars for 2016!
Alan Auerbach has been dominant in the Baker Automotive Stryker class this year and it would take a miracle for multiple (and almost permanent) class champion Alan Watkins to usurp him at the top of the table. Watkins has been working hard on his immaculate machine, however, and if he can find that little of extra pace this weekend, the battle should be well worth sitting up and watching!
Michael Doyle leads the Glen of The Downs HRCA series coming into the weekend ahead of Paul Gray and Stevie Griffin whilst Liam Ruth holds the lead of the George Mangan Trophy, just ahead of Bernard Foley’s Porsche
924 and Gray’s Porsche 911. All three will be out to win their respective classes this weekend with Ruth also aiming to clinch the Joe Flynn Trophy, which he currently leads from Noel Kavanagh and Wolfgang Schnittger. The Pre ’55s are also out this weekend with all eyes on the incredible E.R.A. of US expat Paddins Dowling. Expect Paddins to give it loads and his lap times will be worth a look, as I would image he will embarrass many younger machines. The only problem for some of the class regulars is how many times they will be lapped! There had been talk of a second E.R.A. joining Dowling on the grid but engine damage sustained at Goodwood last weekend unfortunately ruled it out. There will be a couple of UK based Frazer Nashs on the grid, however, so if you like the smell of methanol, or like me, are partial to a whiff of Castrol R, then get to the paddock at some stage over the weekend!
Master wind up merchant Enda O’Connor has been ultra impressive in Formula Sheane this year and with just two races to run needs a 4th place finish to relieve living legend and reigning champion Brian Hearty of the number one plate for 2016. If Hearty wins both races and O’Connor hits trouble though, title number 11 may be heading towards Dundalk! As many have learnt to their detriment in the past, discount Brian Hearty at your peril! Dave Parks is in third and has shown race winning pace this year too so expect him to be in the thick of the action too.
Ginetta Junior Ireland has been all about Jordan Dempsey and James Roe this year, the pair usually well clear of the rest. Dempsey retook the series lead at the last Mondello meeting but Roe is just a few points behind and if he can regain his July Mondello form, should be worth watching. The Harron brothers have improved greatly too and should not be far away, and karting graduate Darragh Denning is also a dark horse too.
The SEAT Supercup is also drawing to its conclusion and Niall Quinn and Rod McGovern are tied at the top of the championship table. Quinn has been superb all season long but McGovern, having been unable to solve some niggling problems with his car, bought another one and promptly returned to the top stop last time out. John Farrelly is next up, having had his first win at the last Mondello with the wily old fox Michael Cullen in fourth. This series has been entertaining all year and I don’t expect that to change this weekend!
As ever the Leinster Motor Club will be presenting some impressive silverware to the various classes over the weekend. Who gets what, and for which race always tends to be a secret so I did a bit of digging (thanks Trevor), and here are the results:
Leinster Trophy: Formula Ford 1600 (Sunday)
Holmpatrick Trophy: Formula Sheane Race 2 (Sunday)
Dunboyne Trophy: ITCC Race 2 (Sunday)
Dunlop Trophy: Formula Vee Race 2 (Sunday)
GB Shield: Historics Race 2 (Sunday)
Taylor Trophy: ASK Supercars Race 2 (Sunday)
Goodyear Trophy: BOSS Ireland Race 2 (Sunday)
O’Reilly Trophy: Strykers Race 2 (Sunday)
AIF Trophy: Ginetta Junior Race 1 (Saturday)
Jacob Trophy: Ford Fiesta Race 2 (Sunday)
Jackson Trophy: Pre-55 (Sunday)
I will be live on Mondello.TV with all the action on Sunday and we can expect some fantastic racing all weekend. You can tweet me with questions or plugs (@topofthetower) while we are broadcasting too! Also, if you have not already done so, please click on the below link and vote for this blog- we have made the final 3!
Until next time,
Header image from Brian Walsh.
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