So since my last blog, my Fiesta ST season was brought to an end by a high speed shunt at turn one which was no fault of my own. The car was heavily damaged and we were unsure what to do for the rest of the season. My dad had bought back his old 1.25 Fiesta Zetec from Ulick Burke for a bit of rallycross fun but with his racing commitments in the U.K. increasing, the car was left sitting in the garage unused. We decided that I’d stick an entry in it for the Formula Vee Festival weekend for a “bit of fun”. I’d had a brief run in a Zetec at the 6 Hour Endurance race in 2016 and had found them great fun to drive and my pace that day was pretty good so I was hoping for a decent result come the weekend.
Jumping into qualifying, I managed to jump to pole pretty quickly in the session but then I was soon knocked back to P2 and I was told on the pitboard I’d another tenth to find to get pole. Despite driving to the absolute limit I couldn’t improve but would still line up P2 for both races of the weekend.
Race one came and this was where my lack of knowledge of the 1.25 Zetec in a sprint race could possibly play a part. I got a good initial start but was boxed out on the outside and tucked into third behind the two championship protagonists Owen Purcell and Mark O’Donoghue. Initially it was a six car train for the lead in the early laps but then the us front three managed to break away from the pack. What I quickly learned was that in this class you have to drive the car on the absolute limit each lap like it was a qualifying lap in the race. Owen and Mark were side by side on a number of occasions and I was sat back in third hoping to get a run on either of them if they made a mistake. On the final lap Mark lost the back end into turn three and did well to hold it but this let Owen escape and the battle was on for P2 then. I managed to get a run on him through the Esses and got up the inside heading into then final corner. I knew he’d try to pull the traditional Mondello switchback move on me and he got alongside me on the run to the flag. I just lost P2 by 0.015 of a second after 13 laps of side by side racing but was really happy with how the race and gone and also managing to secure the fastest lap of the race.
Race two took place on the Sunday morning and again I’d line up alongside Owen on the front row. This time I didn’t make a particularly good start and was swamped on the run down to turn one. By the time I was back in line I was down to P5 with a lot of work to do. I got a run down the outside of Adam Johnston heading into turn one but was very lucky to avoid being collected by poor Tommy Mulready who had total brake failure heading into turn one behind me and I’d to take avoiding action of the melee behind. I put my head down to catch the leading trio and managed to catch them within a few laps. Coming out of the final corner I got a run on Wayne Laverick for 3rd place but nearly fired myself into the pit wall after catching the outside kerb at the wrong angle. In that half a lap Owen and Mark and pulled a sizeable gap in terms of fiesta racing and there was only a few minutes left in the race. I decided to throw caution to the wind and set a succession of fastest laps and managed to catch back up with about three laps left. I was hoping for the chance that didn’t come in race one and when Mark ran wide out of turn one I managed to sit around the outside of him at turn two to give me the inside on the run down to turn three. It was going to come down to who was braver and unfortunately for Mark he over committed and I heard the sound of screeching tyres and a sideways Fiesta aimed at my door! I now only had three laps left to try and catch Owen who was flying out front. I managed to chip into his lead but just couldn’t get close enough to try and overtake. I crossed the line on his bumper in P2 with another fastest lap in the bag as well.
In terms of a weekend of racing, that’s probably right at the top for both out and out racing and just pure fun. A lot of thanks has to go to Alastair Kellett who got an engine fitted in rapid time the week before the race and let me borrow his car for the weekend. Thanks also to my family and supporters for sticking behind me after a very tough start to the season. As for the plans for the rest of the season, well I think I’ve unfinished business in the Zetecs and I’ll be back out in August for a crack at the top step of the podium.
Thanks for reading