Motormouth’s Mutterings- New Fiesta ST class stars on Mondello Debut
When the 1.25 Fiesta Zetecs were introduced back in 2013 (where are they all gone by the way?) there was already a plan to have a step up, a more powerful Fiesta class within three years. Mainly thanks to the efforts of Barry Barrable initially, the class has been set up and run by Mondello Park, backed by Patch Tyre Equipment and made a hugely successful debut recently. With over 150 bhp the cars are far faster than their 1250cc relatives. They also look and sound like race cars, and all were beautifully turned out for the opening rounds.
Having spoken to a few of the drivers, there are a few issues- the ABS remains connected, the control suspension means wheelspin on corner exit is an issue- but even though that might be slightly annoying, it might actually be a good thing in terms of having to look after tyres and manage your driving. Dave Maguire would surely agree, as the former karting champion and longtime tin top exponent qualified his immaculate Alasta Autos/Murray Motorsport machine on pole position for the first race. Having fought off a challenge from John Denning at turn two, he pretty much drove off into the sunset, crossing the line almost ten seconds ahead of Graham McDonnell, a name new to us in the commentary box, but certainly one we will be keeping an eye on for the rest of the season. Most of the entertainment centred on the charge from ITCC star Kev Doran. Having blown a clutch in practise he started at the back and had made his way as far as fifth before his power steering fluid boiled, forcing him into defensive mode as he fended off attacks from Mark Turley, Barry Barrable and Hugh Grennan. In race two, there was one of a number of messy starts during the day. Doran appeared to seize the opportunity and snatched the lead as others moved, then hesitated. Dave Maguire piled the pressure on for the duration, in the hope of doing the double, but Doran refused to be ruffled and hung on for what looked like a win- but wasn’t. Once jump start penalties were applied to a number of drivers, Doran included though, it was McDonnell who took his debut win from Turley with Doran relegated to third. Hard but fair racing was the order of the day, in the main part- long may it stay that way. Anyone looking to enter this class should be aware that there are a number of cars on the grid, two inside the top ten, that have been built for substantially less than ten grand- so it is pretty accessible- certainly far more so than the similarly paced Punto Abarths were over 10 years ago.
Without reigning champion Enda O’Connor to contend with, Brian Hearty added two more to his record breaking tally of wins in Formula Sheane, in his bid for an incredible eleventh title. In the first race he won as he pleased, enjoying a huge margin over the rest but he had to put the hammer down in the closing stages of race two, when he spotted the rapidly closing Robbie Allen. With what has to be the drive of the day, Robbie charged through the pack from the back of the grid with some totally committed overtaking moves and slashed the gap to Hearty on the final two laps. It will be interesting to see these two go head to head when the class returns to Mondello Park.
The Stryker class has had a winter revamp and re-emerged as the newly named Irish Sportscar Championship, with some optional added aero and crucially, a limited slip diff- something many felt the car has been crying out for since its introduction here almost 20 years ago. The evergreen Des Bruton certainly likes the new regs as he took a popular win in the opening race, ahead of perennial class pacesetter Alan Watkins. In race two, Watkins returned to the top step of the podium, but Bruton kept him honest throughout. Dave Griffin missed qualifying and started from the back- but some good battles are in prospect when all three start at the front next time out!
Andy O’Brien dominated proceedings in the Tool Dynamics Supercar Championship races. Along with reigning champion Peter Barrable and Sam Moffett, he gambled on slicks in qualifying, whist the rest took the safer option of wet tyres. The timing was close, with the slick shod trio only appearing at the top of the timesheets on the final two laps of qualifying. When the times came out, it was the former Ginetta Junior champion who got pole, just a few hundreths ahead of Barrable with Moffett in third. Barrable encountered brake issues in the race, hanging on for third but O’Brien won as he pleased, crossing the line almost 15 seconds to the good with class returnee Alan Dawson claiming second. In Race two, a smokey Barrable got the jump but O’Brien nailed him into Southside corner with a lovely dive- after which he again pulled away for the double. Barrable’s car expired in a cloud of smoke leaving Moffett and a vastly improved John Cardoo to complete the podium.
Jonathan Fildes and Stephen Kelly have rebuilt the former’s Ralt RT4 for the resurgent BOSS ireland series, but time was an issue and they didn’t make it to Mondello in time for qualifying. This meant, that after three laps in the morning, the former tin top star had to start from the pitlane. Barry Rabbitt had found his ex F3 tyres didn’t work and had to change them mid qualifying, leaving him back on row three of the grid. He nailed the perfect start though, and somehow managed to wrest the lead from polesitter Cian Carey on the run to turn two. Carey and Noel Robinson immediately began to attack the leader, giving some superb racing for the opening round of the series which have been awarded the Leinster Trophy this year. Fildes, meanwhile was charging up to the leading trio having made short work of the rest. Rabbitt, as you can see from the below footage, held back the flying Ralt for as long as possible but once Fildes got the to the front he went lap record chasing. Despite what he later described as a brake problem, he left the fastest lap at an impressive 50.77! Robinson, fresh from a Kirkistown FF1600 win, drove well to pip Carey for second. In race two, a typically opportunistic round the outside move from Rabbitt came to naught when he made contact with Carey, the resultant damage removing them both from further proceedings. Robinson claimed another well earned runner up spot, whilst Eamonn Matheson brought his heavily revised Mission T5 home in third.
Ginetta Junior Ireland have received support from Dennings Cars for the 2016 season and appropriately enough, it was Darragh Denning who claimed pole position, having switched to Morgan Dempsey’s MCP team for the season. He was beaten away by Samuel Harron then who hung on as faras the Esses, when William Harron ambushed them both, sweeping around the outside for the lead- and the subsequent win. In race two, Samuel took the honours but all the excitement centred on Morgan Quinn’s ultimately successful defence of second place, despite race one winner William’s best efforts.
Timmy Duggan has long had the fastest car in a straightline in the MicksGarage.com Future Classics class. unfortunately though, the ex works SEAT Ibiza responds about as well to changes of direction as the HMS Titanic- until 2016 that is. A remap appears to have stunted the power and some chassis adjustments have pretty much eliminated the understeer, making it the car to have by the look of it. He took two wins, the first, having taken the lead early on, with Marty Moore in his Civic second and local man Brendan Travers having charged to third from a lowly grid position. In race two, Duggan was again victorious with Adrian Dunne and Aidan Byrne completing the podium in what is a fast growing and higely popular class.
Niall Murray returned to the SEAT Supercup as a car was available and, predictably, qualified on pole position, with Niall Quinn alongside. In race one, Murray won as he pleased with Quinn the only one to show similar pace and Rob Butler claiming third on his class debut. In race two, grids were reversed but Murray nailed what was the second messy start of the day and was soon on the tail of Erik Holstein for the lead. Holstein, however, had made vast improvements to his car between races and was not going to hand it over without a fight. Holstein had been quicker out of Turn one all race, but when Murray matched this, there was always going to be a challenge at turn three. Claiming later he was “not there to make up numbers”, Murray dived down the inside at the second apex and when the resultant contact sent Holstein sideways, drove by for the lead. Holstein was not finished, however and set fasest lap as he chased Murray down in the closing stages. Quinn, meanwhile, had retired after a robust move from Rod McGovern at Southside Corner had broken a wheel on his car, leaving SWR team mates John Farrelly and Brian Berry to slug it out for the final podium spot- with Farrelly taking the place after a strong run!
Jackie Cochrane took another two HRCA wins but as ever, the rumbling Tiger wasn’t particularly quick off the line, giving us plenty of entertainment as he fought his way back towards the sharp end of the grid. David Kelly’s well driven Lotus Elan defended well and fought back once relieved of the lead, the pair crossing the line less than a second apart with Val Thompson in the beautifully prepared TMC Costin in third. Cochrane again charged to the front in race two, but a late race misfire and a superb charge from the incredible Steve Griffin, meant his advantage was slashed to less than three seconds by the flag. Thompson again completed the podium.
All images from Michael Chester.
IRISH MOTOR RACING CLUB RACE MEETING AT MONDELLO PARK:
BOSS IRELAND FORMULA LIBRE RACE 1 (17 laps):
1 Jonathan Fildes (Ralt RT4 Mounttune) 15m 10.23s, 77.29 mph,
2 Noel Robinson (Tatuus F Renault) 15m 49.86s,
3 Cian Carey (Tatuus F Renault) 15m 51.82s,
4 Barry Rabbitt (Tatuus F Renault) 16m 00.43s,
5 Eamonn Matheson (Mission T5) 16 laps,
6 Fergus Faherty (Tatuus F Renault) 16 laps.
Fastest lap: Fildes 51.711s, 80.03 mph.
BOSS IRELAND FORMULA LIBRE RACE 2 (14 laps):
1 Jonathan Fildes (Ralt RT4 Mounttune) 12m 40.81s, 76.15 mph,
2 Noel Robinson (Tatuus F Renault) 13m 06.39s,
3 Eamonn Matheson (Mission T5) 13m 23.52s,
4 Fergus Faherty (Tatuus F Renault) 13m 24.87s,
5 Colm Hynes (Reynard 88D) 13m 27.69s,
6 Martin Daly (Tatuus F Renault) 13 laps.
Fastest lap: Fildes 52.226s, 79.24 mph.
AVON TYRES FORMULA SHEANE RACE 1 (16 laps):
1 Brian Hearty 15m 38.47s, 70.56 mph,
2 Paul McLoughlin 15m 55.61s,
3 Richard Kearney 15m 55.76s,
4 Andrew Murphy 16m 01.71s,
5 Robbie Allen 16m 03.10s,
6 Mark Dunleavy 16m 05.90s.
Fastest Lap: Dunleavy 58.155s, 71.16 mph.
AVON TYRES FORMULA SHEANE RACE 2 (11 laps):
1 Brian Hearty 10m 53.12s, 69.70 mph,
2 Robbie Allen 10m 57.37s,
3 Paul McLoughlin 10m 59.42s,
4 Kevin Sheane Jnr 10m 59.54s,
5 Mark Dunleavy 10m 59.62s,
6 Richard Kearney 11m 01.53s.
Fastest Lap: Dunleavy 58.155s, 71.16 mph.
PATCH TYRE EQUIPMENT FIESTA ST RACE 1 (14 laps):
1 Dave Maguire 15m 42.53s, 61.47 mph,
2 Graham McDonnell 15m 52.00s,
3 Brendan Fitzgerald 15m 54.71s,
4 Hugh McEvoy 15m 55.02s,
5 Kevin Doran 16m 00.99s,
6 Hugh Grennan 16m 02.47s.
Fastest lap: McDonnell 1m 06.790s, 61.96 mph.
PATCH TYRE EQUIPMENT FIESTA ST RACE 2 (11 laps):
1 Graham McDonnell 12m 27.70s, 60.88 mph,
2 Mark Turley 12m 32.52s,
3 Kevin Doran 12m 35.94s,
4 Brendan Fitzgerald 12m 36.11s,
5 Dave Maguire 12m 36.35s,
6 John Denning 12m 36.48s.
Fastest lap: Maguire 1m 06.894s, 61.86 mph.
TOOLS DYNAMICS SUPERCAR RACE 1 (15 laps):
1 Andy O’Brien 15m 07.85s, 68.38 mph,
2 Alan Dawson 15m 21.26s,
3 Peter Barrable 15m 21.40s,
4 Philip Jones 15m 35.32s,
5 Bob Cameron 15m 35.47s,
6 John Cardoo 15m 44.78s.
Fastest lap: O’Brien 59.910s, 69.08 mph.
TOOLS DYNAMICS SUPERCAR RACE 2 (12 laps):
1 Andy O’Brien 12m 12.29s, 67.82 mph,
2 Sam Moffett 12m 23.39s,
3 John Cardoo 12m 33.01s,
4 Bob Cameron 12m 37.33s,
5 Alan Kessie 12m 50.98s,
6 Dan Rooney 13m 02.99s.
Fastest lap: O’Brien 59.964s, 69.01 mph.
SEAT SUPERCUP IRELAND RACE 1 (16 laps):
1 Niall Murray 15m 45.54s, 70.03 mph,
2 Niall Quinn 15m 48.87s,
3 Rob Butler 15m 54.48s,
4 Rod McGovern 15m 56.17s,
5 John Farrelly 15m 59.11s,
6 Brian Berry 16m 03.37s.
Fastest lap: Murray 58.436s, 70.82 mph.
SEAT SUPERCUP IRELAND RACE 2 (12 laps):
1 Niall Murray 11m 59.52s, 69.02 mph,
2 Erik Holstein 12m 00.95s,
3 John Farrelly 12m 03.39s,
4 Brian Berry 12m 03.53s,
5 Rod McGovern 12m 04.58s.
Fastest lap: Holstein 59.076s, 70.05 mph.
DENNINGS CARS GINETTA JUNIOR IRELAND RACE 1 (9 laps):
1 William Harron 10m 11.07s, 60.95 mph,
2 Darragh Denning 10m 12.18s,
3 Samuel Harron 10m 12.64s,
4 Hollie Byrne 11m 02.85s,
5 Megan Campbell 11m 10.22s,
6 Robbie Parks Jnr 8 laps.
Fastest lap: Denning 1m 06.399s, 62.33 mph.
DENNINGS CARS GINETTA JUNIOR IRELAND RACE 2 (13 laps):
1 Samuel Harron 15m 22.27s, 58.33 mph,
2 Morgan Quinn 15m 30.40s,
3 William Harron 15m 31.26s,
4 Darragh Denning 16m 15.26s,
5 Hollie Byrne 12 laps,
6 Megan Campbell 12 laps.
Fastest lap: Samuel Harron 1m 07.134s, 61.64 mph.
IRISH SPORTS CARS RACE 1 (15 laps):
1 Des Bruton 15m 43.55s, 65.79 mph,
2 Alan Watkins 15m 52.14s,
3 Roger Welaratne 15m 52.41s,
4 Dave Griffin 15m 52.42s,
5 Des Meehan 16m 04.17s,
6 Peter Auerbach 16m 33.95s.
Fastest lap: Bruton 1m 01.594s, 67.19 mph.
IRISH SPORTS CARS RACE 2 (14 laps):
1 Alan Watkins 15m 01.69s, 64.25 mph,
2 Des Bruton 15m 03.89s,
3 Roger Welaratne 15m 36.25s,
4 Peter Auerbach 16m 46.55s,
5 Darren Griffin 15m 46.66s,
6 Michael Ward 12 laps.
Fastest lap: Bruton 1m 03.463s, 65.21 mph.
HISTORIC RACE 1 (15 laps):
1 Jackie Cochrane (Sunbeam Tiger) 15m 48.07s, 65.48 mph,
2 David Kelly (Lotus Elan) 15m 48.85s,
3 Val Thompson (TMC Costin) 16m 40.32s,
4 Tommy Doherty (Ford Capri) 16m 53.78s,
5 Mark Russell (Jaguar XJS) 14 laps,
6 Clive Brandon (Lotus 47) 14 laps.
Fastest lap: Cochrane 1m 01.463s, 67.33 mph.
HISTORIC RACE 2 (12 laps):
1 Jackie Cochrane (Sunbeam Tiger) 12m 54.44s, 64.12 mph,
2 Steve Griffin (MG Midget) 12m 57.87s,
3 Val Thompson (TMC Costin) 13m 03.86s,
4 Tommy Doherty (Ford Capri) 13m 22.43s,
5 Clive Brandon (Lotus 47) 13m 24.45s,
6 Wolfgang Schnittger (MG Midget) 11 laps.
Fastest lap: Cochrane 1m 01.433s, 67.36 mph.
MICKSGARAGE.COM FUTURE CLASSICS RACE 1 (13 laps):
1 Timothy Duggan (Seat Ibiza Cooper) 15m 14.98s, 58.80 mph,
2 Martin Moore (Honda Civic) 15m 15.95s,
3 Brendan Travers (Fiat Punto) 15m 19.08s,
4 Ken Byrne (MG Maestro) 15m 22.10s,
5 Tommy Byrne (Fiat Punto) 15m 23.04s,
6 Paul Flanagan 15m 23.23s.
Fastest lap: Adrian Dunne (Citroen Saxo) 1m 07.746s, 61.09 mph.
MICKSGARAGE.COM FUTURE CLASSICS RACE 2 (11 laps):
1 Timothy Duggan (Seat Ibiza Cooper) 13m 03.52s, 58.10 mph,
2 Adrian Dunne (Citroen Saxo) 13m 03.79s,
3 Aidan Byrne (Fiat Punto) 13m 04.60s,
4 David Hammond (Fiat Uno) 13m 04.64s,
5 Martin Moore (Honda Civic) 13m 06.22s,
6 Ken Byrne (MG Maestro) 13m 06.84s.
Fastest lap: William Kellett (Nissan Micra) 1m 09.271s, 59.74 mph.