The Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST Championship provided the pick of the action at an incident packed Mondello Park today (Sunday April 9th). The series, for identical Ford Fiestas, produced some incredibly close racing, Shane McFadden beating Kevin Doran in race two, with a winning margin of less than five hundredths of a second.
The first race start had to be aborted following an incident at Mobil corner and on the restart it was David Maguire who led away from Michael Cullen and Championship leader Shane McFadden. McFadden came under pressure from Michael Fitzgerald who worked his way past on lap three but was then denied a podium position due to an infringement and ended up classified eight.
While Maguire, the reigning champion, cruised to his first win of the year, ahead of Cullen and McFadden, a fierce battle was going on between Tom Fahy and Stephen Kirwan for the all important sixth place. Sixth would convert into pole position for race two and in the end it was Fahy who held on by less than two tenths of a second.
Race two began with Fahy leading, but it was former race winner Kevin Doran who was first to break his resistance, getting by at Southside corner at the end of lap one. McFadden followed Doran through, in order to stop him from building a lead, and was soon joined by Maguire and Fitzgerald. The lead quartet were closing up when the safety car was deployed due to the inevitable coming together of the extremely tight midfield bunch.
Fitzgerald had moved by Maguire just before the safety car appeared and on the restart he was right on McFadden. The two drivers ran side by side for most of laps seven and eight, allowing Maguire to get back into contention and briefly pass Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was not about to give up his first Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST podium however and set about wresting third place back, but his dicing with Maguire allowed the leaders to escape.
Fitzgerald and Maguire continued to swap places right up to the final lap, with third eventually going the way of Fitzgerald, but up front Doran steadfastly held on to his lead, that is until the run to the flag. With the race leader going ultra defensive at the final corner McFadden was able to get a strong run onto the straight to take the lead for the first time just as they crossed the line. A winning margin of just 0.046 of a second was easily the closest of the day and enough for McFadden to retain his championship lead.
The Mondello Park Fiesta Zetec Championship also provided some great racing, despite championship leader Mark O’Donoghue taking both wins. In race one O’Donoghue took a relatively easy win but behind him there was a frantic four car dice for third which raged for the entire race distance. At the flag it was O’Donoghue from Owen Purcell and Alan Watkins.
Race two saw O’Donoghue again take the lead but Purcell fought back to get in front for three laps at half distance. The leaders ran side by side for a couple of tours but at the end of lap seven the dice was decided in the championship leaders favour, as Purcell ran wide at Southside Corner leaving O’Donoghue to cruise to his third win of the year. Darren Lawler worked his way up from seventh to challenge Purcell but failed to take second place by one hundredth of a second.
The Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST and Mondello Park Fiesta Zetec championships will both be back on track at Mondello Park on June 10th.