With just a few days to go before the much awaited season opener at Mondello Park, it seems the budget classes are once again the most popular with Future Classics and Zetec Fiestas packing their respective grids.
23 of the 1.25 Zetec Fiestas line up for the opening round of the newly named ProCraft Fiesta championship with Mondello Instructor Philip Lawless very much the favourite. Most of the big names have moved on, a large portion to the Fiesta ST class, and the cars have come down in price (with some available sub €2k now) making it a perfect clubman class. Peter Campbell has shown very well in Rallycross, winning the Patch Tyre Equipment/Naas Court Hotel Mini championship and with some work recently done on his car, could spring a surprise.
Future Classics, now with support from micksgarage.com, continues to grow in popularity and once again, the grid is all but full for the opening race of the season. Hard to pick a potential winner though, as there are more than a couple of machines out there capable of smashing the barrier time- but not doing that is half the fun. 21 cars line up, with huge variety and no doubt will provide close entertaining action. Class champion Ian Thornton will be one to watch in his Golf GTi but should his staunch defences crumble, Willie Tighe in the 16v 205 GTI or Adrian Dunne’s rapid Saxo may be able to capitalise. Also keep an eye out for the experienced Brendan Travers’ Punto and Timothy Duggan’s swift SEAT Ibiza.
The ITCC make their first appearance too this Sunday, with main interest centering on Grzegorz Kalinecki’s
new machine. The Sportchip.ie driver dominated the Production Class in 2015 in his self built SEAT Leon and is rumoured to have moved up to the main class with a late model Golf GTi! He will be up against Dean Reilly’s incredibly quick Civic, Eddie Kinirons in the ex Holstein/Fogarty M3 and crowd favourite Kevin Doran, also Civic mounted. They may all have to keep an eye out for Shane Rabbitt though, who has changed the final drive on his incredible Mazda RX-7 and should be even quicker than he was in 2015! With Kalinecki having moved up, the Production Class looks wide open. Anthony Murtagh should go well, if the gremlins stay away, but Nicole Drought, fresh from her Porsche GT3 test at Paul Ricard, and Gareth Jennings will be in the hunt too.
Global GT Lights make a rare appearance at Mondello Park this weekend and the big news is that Motorsport Ireland’s Young Driver of The Year Jake Byrne is on the entry list. Jake, like most drivers, is keen to get back behind the wheel after the winter layoff and, at the helm of his father’s car, is unlikely to be beaten. Peter “Max” Drennan, Bernie Braden and a host of others will be hoping to stop him though- so it should be worth watching.
Legends make yet another concerted effort to launch themselves on the Irish scene this Sunday and despite a great turnout at the final meeting of 2016, there are just 7 cars entered and this includes two guests, Finol Star of Tomorrow Des Foley and Mondello’s Chief Instructor Ken Elliott. Despite the small numbers, expect great entertainment and the usual bump drafting on the main straight to keep you entertained! No mondello.tv this weekend, so let’s do it the old fashioned way and sit in the grandstand!!
Tweet me with info on race day, @topofthetower
until next time,