Reigning SEAT Supercup Ireland champion Niall Murray will start the championship’s 2016 season opener at Mondello Park on pole position. The Murray Motorsport driver claimed the ‘Yokohama Pole Award’ from 2015 title rival Niall Quinn, the pair separated by just 1/10 of a second at the end of the 15-minute qualifying session. A heavy rain shower at the county Kildare circuit prior to qualifying, meant drivers faced a wet but drying track with all the times coming in the second half of the session with Rod McGovern posting the 3rd fastest time 0.059 ahead of best of the championship rookies Rob Butler. Behind Butler, fellow Irish Touring Car Championship graduate Erik Holstein managed the 5th fastest time with team-mate Barry English next up, the Top 6 covered by just 6/10th of a second.
Making a one off return to the SEAT Supercup this weekend, Murray said, ‘It’s great to get the opportunity to get back out in the SEATs and putting it on pole is a great start to the weekend’. Taking his Fish Graphics backed Leon to his fourth SEAT Supercup pole position, the 21-year-old said ‘at the start [of qualifying] the first corner was wet so I just did some laps to get temperature in the rear tyres. Then I came into the pits and waited as I knew it would dry up. I went out again with 6-minutes left so I would have enough time to do two flying laps’. Putting in his 58.127 pole time, which was the best lap time he has done around the track ‘it definitely was not a perfect lap’. Trying to break into the 57s, the Dubliner said ‘the tyres were gone by their best at that stage’. Looking to the first of Sunday’s two races he said, ‘we put a base set-up on the car last night and it’s perfect so we won’t make any changes for Race 1. Quinn is a good racer and were running the same times so the important thing will be to get off the line and stay ahead’.
Describing qualifying as ‘crazy’, Quinn did his initial laps on wets to get a ‘banker’ time before coming in for a new set of Yokohama slicks. Suffering ‘a big spin across the grass’, the Dunboyne driver said a fuel miscalculation cost them pole position as he suffered fuel surge when his tyres were at their best. Depite this he was ‘pretty happy’ to put his Randridge backed Supercopa on the front row of the grid. Pleased with how his family team run car performed, he said he is ‘looking forward to racing tomorrow’ adding ‘it’s tight between me & Niall’.
Mick Merrigan Motorsport’s McGovern would suffer a brake balance issue which he felt denied him a chance at pole. A race winner last season, he said,’unfortunately we started the run with the brakes set up for a wet track and when I went to adjust them from the rear to the front for the drying track the dial was loose so it wasn’t actually changing the balance’. He concluded, ‘but we have a good car to race with’.
Considering his first run in the car was only a few hours earlier in morning practice, Bulter was ‘really happy’ with P4. Looking to his debut race tomorrow his biggest concern is the start saying, ‘I will try to get it off the line and then see what we can do’. Happy with his car set-up, the Navan driver feels if he can tidy up his driving a little ‘hopefully (he) can run with the Nialls’.
A high profile addition to this year’s SEAT Supercup grid, Holstein said he ‘messed up’. The former Touring Car Champion continued, ‘I missed the window with new tyres and by the time I got the finger out the tyres had done 14 laps and were roasted. At that stage it was game over, P5’. Asked about his Naas Court Hotel backed car he replied, ‘I think the car is ok. I don’t have enough mileage to reference against. I just need more mileage’. While disappointed with qualifying he added, ‘race day is different’.
With John Farrelly and Brian Berry rounding out the grid for Race 1 behind English, unfortunately David Kidd’s debut in the championship would have a premature end following a fire in practice. Having managed to get a taste for the 301Bhp Supercopa in an earlier practice session, Kidd really enjoyed the car and is looking forward to getting to complete his first race.
Race 1 will take place tomorrw at 12:00 with the feature Race 2 set to line up on the reversed grid at 16:10. Both races will be streamed live on Mondello.TV .
SEAT Supercup Ireland
Round 1, Mondello Park
1. Niall Murray – Fish Graphics/Murray Motorsport – 58.127
2. Niall Quinn – Randridge/Quinn Racing – 58.235
3. Rod McGovern – Medical Banks/MM Motorsport – 58.605
4. Rob Butler – Fundracer/Murray Motorsport – 58.664
5. Erik Holstein – Naas Court Hotel/Murray Motorsport – 58.774
6. Barry English – Murray Motorsport – 58.782
7. John Farrelly – Sean Wood Racing – 58.966
8. Brian Berry – Sean Wood Racing – 59.574
9. David Kidd – Summit Engineering/Ciaran Murphy – no time
SEAT Ireland | SEAT Sport | Yokohama Tire