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McGovern crowned SEAT Supercup Ireland Champion

Rod McGovern is the new 2017 SEAT Supercup Ireland Champion. Having twice finished runner-up
in the high profile SEAT Leon Supercopa based championship since its 2015 introduction, the Mick
Merrigan Motorsport driver finally clinched the title with a calculated drive in Round 10 at Kirkistown
Motor Racing Circuit on Saturday (26th August). The penultimate stop on the 6 event/12 round
calendar, McGovern travelled to the high speed County Down circuit with a healthy championship lead
over a closing rookie sensation Sam Mansfield. While Race 1 would see a rare error from McGovern
in what has been an otherwise perfect campaign from the Dublin driver, a more calculated approach
to Race 2 would net a fourth place and the title. The 5-points P4 brought would be enough to put the
title beyond the reach of Mansfield & back to back defending team champions Murray Motorsport no
matter what the outcome of the season finale at Mondello Park on September 17th.
With the championship having gone down to the final weekend on the last two occasions, McGovern
the main challenger to Niall Murray in 2015 and Erik Holstein last season, this year the MedicalBanks
backed driver took control of the points table early on as his key rivals faltered. Opening the season
with the bonus championship point for taking the Yokohama Pole Award at Round 1 in Mondello Park
and converting that into victory, he would repeat that form at the next event in Bishopscourt and
again at Rounds 5 & 6 back in Mondello. At the third race weekend he would also become the first
double winner of the season with the Race 2 win on that occasion making him the championship’s
most winning driver, overtaking the previous record of Niall Murray with his 7th SEAT Supercup race
win. Mansfield would end his reign at the top of the qualifying taking his first pole position at Round
7 but McGovern would still take the Race 1 win to further extend his points lead ending the hopes of
pre-season favourite Jonathan Fildes.
Finally delivering a much anticipated first SEAT win in Race 2, the inexperienced but clearly talented
Mansfield became McGovern’s only title challenger as the championship entered into the Summer
break. While Kirkistown presented a new challenge, the Murray Motorsport driver having never raced
there before, that didn’t faze Mansfield as he looked to force the championship to go to the season
concluding Leinster Trophy meeting. In qualifying, a returning Eoin Murray claimed the Yokohama
Pole Award on the last lap denying McGovern who had to settle for P2 with Mansfield lining up 4th.
Race 1 and things looked to turn in Mansfield’s favour on the opening lap as an error from McGovern
caused him to spin out on his own and hit the banking forcing him to pit twice during the race for
attention. While he would take the chequered flag, he would not complete 75% of the distance of
race winner Murray in order to be eligible for championship points. An opportunity for Mansfield to
make inroads into the points leader, unfortunately he could not capitalise. His title hopes would be
dashed when he was forced to take to the grass through Debtors corner after coming upon a slower
car. Doing well to stay in control of his Leon he would finish a frustrating 4th.
With the draw to determine the grid for the second race resulting in the Top 4 from Race 1 lining
up in reverse order, putting Mansfield on pole, McGovern started 5th knowing what he needed to do
after getting strict instructions from veteran team owner Mick Merrigan to take no risks. Catching up
to third placed Barry English with his team nervously watching on from the pitwall he would shadow
the Round 2 winner until the flag, 4th the magical result he needed to finally lift the title of the
championship he instigated. English joked afterwards, “I’m not sure he would have finished behind
me if the championship situation was different’. Up front Mansfield took his second win ahead of the
vastly experienced SEAT Eurocup racer Murray, a feat that resulted in the Finnstown Castle Hotel
backed driver being selected as the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland ‘Driver of the Day’. With both
McGovern and Mansfield both already committed to the 2018 SEAT Supercup Ireland, the stage is set
for an exciting championship.