This weekend marks the start of the second half of what is hotting up to being a thrilling season for the SEAT Supercup Ireland. Rounds 7 & 8 will take drivers back for their second visit to Mondello Park’s National circuit on which the championship kicked off back in April. This time round, however, the grid is bigger and so is the competition.
While the main focus of the event will be on the championship title battle, currently being faught out between Erik Holstein, Rob Butler and Rod McGovern, there are also high expectations as to what the latest additions to the grid can achieve. Having arrived into the championship with authority by qualifying on pole for his SEAT debut, Jonathan Fildes is back for more as is the other star rookie of Rounds 5 & 6, Dave O’Brien.
Concluding the first half of the season with Race 2 victory on the SEAT’s first outing on Mondello’s international circuit last month, Holstein’s first win promotes the Murray Motorsport driver to a 3-point lead in the standings. Having finally registered a win many expected would have come much earlier in his campaign, the Enniscorthy Motor Company backed driver will be looking to extend that lead, his first target of the weekend being the bonus point on offer for pole position with qualifying having not been the former Irish Touring Car Champion’s strong point so far.
Another driver to register his first win at the wheel of one of the 301Bhp Leon Supercopas last time out when he took victory at Round 5, Rob Butler comes into the event determined to reverse his Murray Motorsport team-mate’s advantage at the top of the standings. Losing out on pole position for Round 5 by just 0.075 of a second to Fildes, the Bishopscourt top qualifier would still manage to get his DentMagic supported Leon to the front in the race. Having impressed on his SEAT debut around the Mondello Natonal circuit taking a podium finish behind reigning champion Niall Murray and race winner Niall Quinn at Round 1, the 24-year-old Navan driver wants the win this time round.
Having come into the last race weekend as the championship leader, McGovern’s event got off to a bad start as he left the handbrake on in qualifying and from the back of the grid he struggled to match his title rivals. One of five drivers to register wins so far this season, the Mick Merrigan Motorsport run driver sits third in the standings now but last year’s title runner-up knows he needs a good showing on Sunday if he is to remain in the hunt for the 2016 SEAT Supercup Ireland crown.
Achieving a podium double on his return to the championship having missed Bishopscourt, Niall Quinn will be looking to set straight the fact that he has yet to register a win this season. Relishing the increased high profile competition, the Randridge backed driver will be hoping electrical issues that hampered his potential to win during Rounds 5 & 6 have been cured to allow him battle to be on the top step of the podium on Sunday.
Making an immediate impression in the SEAT Ireland backed championship by taking pole position and backing it up with a Race 1 podium finish, Fildes described his debut weekend as ‘mega’. Continuing in Murray Motorsport’s Fish Graphics backed car, the highly rated Dunshaughlin driver will be looking to put to good use the experience gained at Rounds 5 & 6 and try to become the season’s sixth different winner.
Having only got the call up to make his SEAT Supercup debut on the Friday of the last race weekend, another one to watch is O’Brien who went from getting his first lap in the car in qualifying to challenging his old Irish Touring Car Championship rival Holstein for the win in Race 2. With more time to prepare for his second outing, his car now set carrying backing from Regency Home Improvements and to be run by Philip Wright Motors, the 2014 ITCC Champion is not on the grid to make up numbers.
Running as part of the TOTAL Formula Vee Festival in Aid of LauraLynn Children’s Hospice, qualifying for the Yokohama supported championship takes place Saturday morning with racing taking place on Sunday.
With both races being streamed live on Mondello TV, Race 1 is scheduled to take place at 10:50 with Race 2 set to start at 15:40.