Traditionally, the Leinster Trophy meeting is the big one at Mondello Park. It used to be two weeks before or after the Phoenix Park meetings and for all classes, they were the ones you wanted to win. Thanks to the Leinster Motor Club awarding some superb trophies to all of the classes, this remains the case with their September meeting, event though the ‘Park is now just a distant memory. Despite all the anticipation before the 2015 Leinster Trophy, the race itself was actually a bit of a dull affair. Stephen Daly was head and shoulders above the rest all weekend, with nobody having an answer to the pace of the current trophy holder. We had expected it to be a classic FF1600 battle with Cliff and Michelle Dempsey returning to Mondello with two of their proven winners Patrick Dussault and James Raven, Jake Byrne and Jonny McMullan, both having had superb seasons, going head to head, and Daly returning to Mondello for the first time since claiming the famous trophy 12 months earlier.
Having blitzed the two poorly supported FF1600 races, Daly lined up on pole for the big one. Despite the wet conditions, Daly still led away, his advantage equally impressive in these conditions. Patrick Dussault and James Raven slotted their CDR cars into second and third before Barrable snatched third away from 2014 Formula Ford Festival winner Raven. As the pack reached the end of the first lap, Dussault rotated at Irish Ferries corner, delaying the rest. Incredibly, nobody collected him and he stuffed it into gear and continued. Things were to get worse for CDR and both Raven and Dussault took to the gravel a few seconds later at Mobil corner. This left Barrable second from McMullan, Byrne, Tom O’Connor and the recovering Raven. McMullan gradually hauled Barrable in and the pair swapped places a number of times before McMullan parked it in the kitty litter at SEAT Corner. The rest of the race was pretty stretched out with Daly winning as he pleased and retaining the Trophy for a second year, becoming one of only five people to win it twice. Barrable was second with Raven completing the podium ahead of the recovering Jake Byrne.
Dean Reilly again put away all the usual Micksgarage.com ITCC contenders for a strong win in race one. Champion elect Eoghan Fogarty tracked him for the duration but even he was almost 5 seconds adrift at the flag. Rob Savage completed the podium with Shane Rabbitt’s flame spitting Mazda RX-7 in fourth. Yet another Touring class win for Grzegorz Kalinecki was enough for him and his Sportchip.ie team to clinch the class title, triggering wild celebrations
in the paddock! In the concurrently run SEAT Supercup Ireland, Niall Murray was on top form to take a strong win from team mate Barry English. In race two, with the rain pouring down, Shane Rabbitt snatched the lead on the run to the first corner and was never headed on his way to a popular debut ITCC win. Johnny Whelan had looked like he might challenge but a number of spectacular moments towards the end dropped him back. Jennings was first across the line in the Touring Class from Kalinecki. Niall Murray again dominated proceedings to win the SEAT Supercup race from the back. He is now just a single point behind Rod McGovern, with Niall Quinn having dropped to 5th after a horrendous weekend, where he sustained serious damage to his car as well as his title aspirations. Murray may have been the class of the field, but team mate Erik Holstein in Rod McGovern’s old car was hugely spectacular in his efforts to keep the field behind, despite having to run on a worn set of wets. His onboard saves are definitely worth a watch, but but down that cup of coffee first!
Paul Dagg qualified on pole for the first BOSS Ireland race but hadn’t budgeted for the fast starting Jonathan Fildes who snatched the lead on the run to Mobil for the first time. Dagg sized up the older car for a number of laps before slicing by. Fildes, typically, was not done just yet and clambered all over the back of the Dallara, almost retaking the lead on a number of occasions before heading to the pitlane with a problem. In race two, run in horrendous conditions, Dagg handed his car to Tim Buckley who started from the back. This left Barry Rabbitt, who was runner up in race one, alone on the front row but he stalled when the lights went out. John Daly made a mega start to almost relieve Fergus Faherty of the lead on the run to turn one. Rabbitt meanwhile had got going and was on a charge, despatching the rest and closing in on Faherty before taking the lead. The pair battled mightily and were wheel to wheel on one occasion for almost the entire International loop before Faherty began to pull away, telling Fergus Brennan in his post race interview that he was running new wets and they took a few laps to come in. Buckley completed the podium having threaded his way through the pack in difficult conditions.
Paddins Dowling qualified his E.R.A. on pole position for the HRCA Pre ’55 Historic race as expected, but in wet conditions, the car looked like a handful and Andy Johnston’s superbly driven Alfa-Romeo Monza kept him honest in the early stages. As the race progressed, Dave Miller closed the pair down and got his Jaguar XK140 by the Alfa, but couldn’t do anything about the E.R.A. Great job by Miller and crew to have such an impressive grid of these cars and hopefully this will become a regular feature of the event as many had travelled to Mondello Park just to see the E.R.A. in action!
Not even Jackie Cochrane’s mighty Tiger could match the pace of Stephen Doyle’s Lola T212 and David Kelly’s Gulf liveried Crossle-BMW 9S in the HRCA races. Kelly was on pole but Doyle, having just about taken the honours in race one, snatched the lead down into Mobil for the first time. Kelly was not to be denied though and grabbed the lead back with a brave dive down the outside of 7a on the International Loop. Doyle recriprocated the move a few laps later though, with Cochrane spinning out of third almost simultanously. Less than a lap later, the rear suspension appeared to let go at the back of Kelly’s Crossle, and he did well to hold on to it, parking it on the grass at the exit of Mobil corner. Steve Griffin took a popular second after a hectic scrap with fellow podium finisher Billy Crosbie with the recovering Cochrane in 4th.
2015 has not been a good year for former multiple Formula Sheane champion Kevin Sheane, but he was back on form for this weekend, taking pole for the televised Holmpatrick Trophy race, three tenths ahead newly crowned champion (having already won race one,) Enda O’Connor, with Brian Hearty and Richie Kearney next up. With the rain down though, conditions were treacherous, as the Sheane found out down at 7A, when he rotated into the gravel. He recovered though and rejoined mid pack. This left O’Connor in the lead, from Robbie Allen. In their wake, David Parks was charging up through the pack having had problems in qualifying, despatching Hearty and Kearney with apparent ease as he closed down the leaders. with Kearney retiring, Sheane was also on a charge too and scythed his way through the pack until he arrived at the hugely experienced Hearty. After a mighty tussle, Sheane was by and when Parks rotated at Irish Ferries, he was up to third! When Charlie Linnane parked in the gravel at Mobil, the red flags flew with a few laps left to run and it was new Champion O’Connor, taking the Holmpatrick Trophy for the second year in a row, with Allen second and Sheane third. This marks the first someone other than Sheane or Hearty has taken the title in a number of years in Formula Sheane.
Blackchurch Fiesta race one was the usual Brendan Fitz/Barry Rabbitt tussle, with Fitzgerald holding off the series leader for another win, with Stephen Kirwan and Shane Kenny next up. In race two, the improving Ulick Burke came out tops after a hectic scrap with the far more experienced Rabbitt with Kirwan again completing the podium.Their championship does not conclude until the October Mondello meeting but sources indicate that there may be technical issues pending for some of the front runners. Not the first time in this class, unfortunately…
Kevin Grogan is the current man on form in Irish Formula Vee and he managed two strong wins over the weekend.
His closest challenger in both was impressive novice Des Foley. Foley, having wrapped up the Finol Star of Tomorrow championship by mid season, has been mixing it with the big boys recently and gave Grogan something to think about on more than one occasion over the weekend. With Ray Moore hitting trouble in qualifying, Grogan and his Avanti Motorsport team needed to capitalise and that’s exactly what they did, leaving Mondello on Sunday evening with the perfect score. Colm Blackburn completed the podium in both races, driving Adam Mcaulay’s multiple title winning Sheane. Moore climbed to fifth in race two, minimising the damage to his series lead with one round still to run.
The ASK Supercar Championship had been a duel between Sean Doyle and Peter Barrable all year. With Doyle having had a bad run last time out, and hoping to make his ELMS
LMP3 debut with Ginetta shortly, he took the tough decision to sit this one out. Barrable already had a strong lead in the title chase, but he had a big challenge in the form of former RT2000/Supercar winner Dave O’Brien who was very much back on form. Philip Jones was right there too and just .2 separated the trio in qualifying. Barrable led away but it was by no means a foregone conclusion as they scrapped mightily. O’Brien took the lead mid race and eased away to take the win, with Barrable clinching the title with runner up spot, leaving it all to play for in the remaining two races. Barrable was on pole for race two but O’Brien got the jump and we were treated to an incredible battle as both pushed to the very edge for the duration. Both struggled towards the end with tyres that were way past their best. Barrable almost went off at the final corner and O’Brien grabbed the lead back, only to run wide himself at turn three allowing Barrable to retake the position once again- and hold onto it until the flag. In a wet race three, O’Brien fought his way to the front and took the flag by over 7 seconds, with Barrable in second.
Jordan Dempsey continued his recent strong run of form to win both Ginetta Junior Ireland races, clinching the
2015 title in the process. After a mid race Safety Car intervention in race one, main rival James Roe piled on the pressure but Dempsey hung on for the win. Samuel Harron was a string third. In race two, Dempsey crossed the line and incredible 16 seconds ahead of Darragh Denning, with Harron again in third and Roe not finishing.
Alan Auerbach took race one in Baker Automotive Strykers, from Dave Griffin and Alan Watkins, but in race two, Auerbach fell foul of the scrutiny bay and was disqualified from the results- handing the win, and yet another championship, to a delighted Watkins. Griffin was again second, from series sponsor Mark Baker and battling class returnees Andy Dalton and Damian Roddy, with just four hundredths separating the pair at the line.
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Header Image from Brian Walsh.
Images, unless otherwise stated, from JayTee Photographic.