Motormouth’s Mutterings- IRX Mondello Round 2 Preview

As you will probably have read (HERE) the opening round of the Irish Rallycross Championship was a resounding success. An impressive social media campaign, combined with Mondello Park’s exciting decision to run the meeting anti clockwise, meant Rallycross was suddenly arrived again, with the cancelled meetings and low entries a thing of the past.

This Sunday at Mondello, it is time for round 2 and happily, the decision has been made to again run left hand in- something which has tempted even more drivers to join in the fun.  Sean Hession was unbeaten in the Fiesta Zetec class last time out, but the impressive newcomer will need to be at the top of his game on sunday as he lines up against up two of the country’s best drivers in Niall Murray and Alastair Kellett.  Murray, keen to try the anti clockwise layout, jumps into one of the family team’s machines, whilst Kellett has bought back his old Zetec from Ulick Burke, for a bit of fun after a busy 2016 winning the UK Quaife Fiesta series.

Jyles Harding will be hoping for the double in the Junior class. Image from James Foley

Jyles Harding will be hoping for the double in the Junior class.
Image from James Foley

Jyles Harding won on his debut in Juniors last time out, his Micra pipping the similar machine of Ben Mullins. The Wexford Motor Club Youth Academy return with their immaculate NCRS prepared Peugeot 106. This time, the driver is Shane Brauders- making his Rallycross debut. Aaron Whelan should also be on the grid, and if the Junior karter’s home built Micra is on the pace, he will certainly be one to watch. It would be great to see some more Karters have a go at Junior Rallycross, as it is incredibly inexpensive and great for both car control and racecraft- skills that are extremely useful if they intend graduating to car racing at any stage.

As I have written about before, the aging 8v and the popular 16v Stockhatch series’ have been amalgamated into the new Production Class.  The 16v 106 variants were still at the front at the opening round though, with 8v Champion Ciaran Murphy taking the win, just from Keith Kershaawe. They will both have to be at the top of their game on Sunday though, as Eoin Murray makes a return to the class in his 106. Like brother Niall in the Fiestas, he won’t be there to make up numbers. Shane Duggan and Eugene Ward are worth watching here too, as is Derek Lenehan, if the scrutineers let him race this time! For some reason, the aging 205 8v machines, normally outpaced by the lighter and more powerful 106/Saxos were bang on the pace, with Damian Farrell managing a heat win and an impressive third in the final. Vincent “VW Vinny” O’Rourke also showed well and has since purchased both the ex Ciaran Murphy title winning 205 and the Scott Fay ex-Tohill Saxo too. should he debut one of his new machines, he could cause an upset! Leigh-Ann Sedgewick showed great pace on the anti clockwise layout last time out, but luck was not on her side- keep an eye on her on Sunday though!

In the Modified class, Tommy Graham set the pace for most of the day in his Mk2 Escort, but Willie Coyne ran him close, the pair’s battle in heat two being one of the best of the day, if not of recent years.  Coyne took the honours after T Bone Tommy slid wide at in the final but he will be keen to avenge this, and Pa Leeson should be right in there too. Lloyd Spendlove will be right there too, and generally uses his Lotus’ mid engined advantage to make rocket like starts, regardless of grid position. Peter McGarry, having made a successful Buggy debut last time out, may debut his newly built Vauxhall VX220. This car, as we saw with the George Treacy Jnr Lotus, has the potential to sling the proverbial cat right into the middle of the pigeons! Speaking of which, the current keeper of the aforementioned Lotus, Ian O’Connell, returns to the grids and a little birdie tells me it has had loads of work done in Stone Motorsport since we last saw it- so that should be interesting!

Peter McGarry faces a rush against time to get his VX220 ready for Sunday

Peter McGarry faces a rush against time to get his VX220 ready for Sunday

The Buggy class is getting ever more popular and with low maintenance and Supercar laptimes, it is easy to see how. Martin McAteer was the man in all the heats last time out and having been trumped in the final by Padraig McHale, will be keen to return the favour. At the time of writing the McGarry VX has yet to be mapped, so expect to see him join the Buggy grids again. Despite only having 600cc against the 750cc machines, he is probably still a good bet for a podium finish!

Derek Tohill is out again as he limbers up for another European Rallycross Championship assault, and it is hard to see anyone challenging him for Supercar and Superfinal honours. Noel Greens’ AMF Mirage has definitely got closer recently, but it is a big ask for him to put a fight up for the overall win. Great to see Tomas O Rafferty returning in his rapid home built Supercar Fiesta and Paul Pascoe also returns to the top class on Sunday.

All in all, it looks like a great days racing ahead with battles in all of the classes. Below is clip from Derek Tohill’s red European Rallycross Championshop winning Fiesta, which will give you some idea of the layout of the anti clockwise layout- and the speed carried into some of the corners!

Heats start at 10:15am with Finals scheduled to commence at 3:30pm- sure what else would you be doing?!

Until next time,

Leo

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