That headline reads like something from the mid 1970s, a period when Ireland produced some of the fastest and best FF1600 drivers in the world. Michael Roe, Derek Daly, David Kennedy, Bernard Devaney, Kenny Acheson and many many more regularly crossed the Irish Sea and all achieved huge success, winning a plethora of championships between them.
Fast forward some 40 years and once again, we have a whole lot of young Irish talent tackling the UK series, which starts this weekend at Oulton Park. With a “Ticket to Indy” up for grabs for the series winner, there has been great interest in the series and it promises to be hugely competitive.
Jake Byrne as Young Driver of The Year, takes over the Motorsport Ireland Van Diemen and won first time out at Kirkistown last weekend. He has shown good form at Oulton before and should not be far away, despite finding the Van Diemen to be very different to the Ray chassis he won the NI Championship with in 2015.
Jonny McMullan, the previous occupant of the MI car, has done a deal, for this weekend at least, to drive with Oldfield Motorsport. The car is similar to the one he enjoyed so much success in last year so he will definitely one to keep an eye on.
Niall Murray returns to single seater racing having won the SEAT Supercup in 2015. He runs alongside Byrne in Bernard Dolan’s team. A former Formula Ford Festival winner, Murray is wild and fast and has incredible car control, if he can stay away from drama, he may be the quickest of them all.
Jordan Dempsey. A third generation of the Mullingar dynasty, Jordan is quick and professional. He has tested extensively with his father’s MCP team and once he gets a few races under his belt, could spring a real surprise. The reigning Ginetta Junior Ireland champion, he drove well in his first FF1600 races at Kirkistown last weekend too.
James Roe. Many believe that this young man from Naas is the next big thing. LMP3 driver and former Festival winner Wayne Boyd believes that Roe is as quick as he has ever come across, and if they both do the Festival this year, he will be keeping a close eye on his former pupil! Like many young drivers, the talent is raw and he needs to work on consistency- but the ingredients are definitely there. As I type this, he was quickest of the drivers from this side of the water in free practise.
Kevin O’Hara should have been added to this list but for an unfortunate work accident which saw him ending up with a cast on his leg. Don’t be surprised if we see him on the UK FF1600 grids later in the year though!
qualifying starts in about half an hour and you can access live timing, all day, by clicking HERE.
Best of luck to all of the above, both in today’s races and for the entire championship.
until next time,