Erik Holstein is the new leader of the SEAT Supercup Ireland after securing his first win in the sixth round of the country’s premiere championship at Mondello Park on Sunday (12th June). With the race marking the conclusion of the first half of the season, the Kildare driver finds himself with a 3-point lead over his team-mate & the weekend’s other first time race winner Rob Butler. Having gone in to the 2-day event as the points leader on the back of his first victory of the season in Bishopscourt last month, Rounds 5 & 6 were to be a tough encounter for Rod McGovern. Accidentally leaving the handbrake on for qualifying, the 2015 Runner-up would end the 15-minute session only 8th fastest managing to make up just three positions over the opening race. Race 2 wouldn’t fare much better as a coming together early on with Niall Quinn, the most consistent driver of the weekend with two podium finishes, sent the MM Motorsport driver down the order. The weekend’s combined results of a 5th and a 7th drops McGovern to 3rd in the standings, his 2-point advantage now a 4-point deficit.
— SEAT Supercup (@SEAT_Supercup) June 12, 2016
With the international track playing host to the biggest ever grid of SEAT Leon Supercopas, the championship’s newest high profile additions would star on their debuts. In qualifying Jonathan Fildes would claim the Yokohama Pole Award by 0.075 of a second over Round 3 pole sitter Butler. In the race a mistake cost him the lead as Butler slipped through to the front and even with a safety car period he wouldn’t relinquish that lead. Dropping to third behind Quinn, Fildes would set about a recovery posting the fastest lap of the race to finish right on the rear bumper of Butler’s Dentmagic backed car as he took the chequered flag. In at the deep end after concluding a late deal to make his racing comeback after a 2-year lay-off, Dave O’Brien would put in a starring role in Race 2. Driving a Supercopa for the very first time in qualifying and then not even lasting a lap in Race 1 as contact left him with a puncture, the 2014 Irish Touring Car Champion would come from the back of the grid to challenge his old touring car sparring partner Holstein for the win. With the race having been cut from 15 to 12-minutes due to delays earlier in the day, had those extra 3-minutes played out the order could very well have been reversed.
‘Relief’ was Holstein’s reaction to what many feel was a well overdue first win for the pre-season title favourite. Starting from pole thanks to the reverse grid, electric issues in qualifying and Race 1 leaving him down the order, he continued, ‘I knew with the reverse grid if I could get away and if I had no technical dramas I could stay out front’. ‘I knew two guys were on new tyres and they were going to catch me. I could see Dave (O’Brien) closing in but stayed on the racing line trying to leave defending as late as possible and it paid off. I’m delighted with the win and really have to thank Enniscorthy Motor Company because after the damage I did at the last round I would not have been racing this weekend without their support’. Commenting on the increasingly competitive SEAT grid, having really enjoyed holding off his old rival O’Brien, the former international showjumper said, ‘There was only 6/10ths (of a second) between the fastest laps of everyone which is great advert for the class. It shows all the cars are the same and it should be a good incentive to get more drivers into the championship.’
‘Delighted to win, and to do it ahead of a driver of Jonathan’s (Fildes) calibre is even better’, was how Butler summed up his Round 5 win from second on the grid. The Meath driver would work his way up to fourth in the reverse grid Race 2 to claim the biggest points tally of the weekend collecting 2 more than Fildes and more importantly 3 more than title rival Holstein. With a no score for Round 2 to drop, he added, ‘I’m delighted to be back in the championship hunt and the win is a great way to welcome DentMagic onboard’. Looking to the next round, the former international karting star concluded, ‘I’m really looking forward to making further improvements the next day’.