Despite an lengthy absence, Seamus Ryan certainly hadn’t forgotten how to drive a Stryker when he made his comeback at Mondello Park last weekend. Having topped the timesheets in testing, the newly rebuilt car did the same when it mattered- in qualifying on Sunday morning at the Formula Vee Festival.
Alongside Ryan on the front row was the resurgent Des Bruton, just a tenth off pole. Andy D’Alton was next up with David Reynolds ahead of plenty of far more experienced drivers in fourth. Stephen Ross was next up, from Nicole Drought. The big surprise was series leader Greg Kelly back in seventh. It subsequently transpired that a rear tyre has delaminated, slowing him considerably. Roger Welaratne was eighth, returning to the class after a recent injury and operation, while Des Meehan occupied nineth ahead of Colin Deering and Adrian Deasy.
Perhaps confused by the unusual flag start, both Ryan and Bruton were wrong footed off the line. Typically, D’Alton didn’t need to be asked twice and vaulted the pair to lead into turn one. Reynolds, after a cracking start was second from Ross, Bruton, Welaratne and Drought. Immediately D’Alton began to ease away, while in his wake, Drought passed Welaratne and Bruton before tangling with Ross at turn one. The incident brought out the safety car and subsequently the red flags, giving the front row occupants a welcome second bite of the cherry at the restart. At the restart, Ryan timed it to perfection to lead away. It wasn’t long, however, before D’Alton was second and one of the battles of the day was about to kick off.
Despite trying everything he knew, D’Alton was unable to find a way past, but he never stopped trying and the pair crossed the line side by side with Ryan getting the verdict by just .08 of a second! Kelly was third, just over three seconds back with Welaratne in fourth from Reynolds and Deering.
When the flag dropped for the second race Bruton it was, who led the pack down to turn one, with D’Alton rocketing past poleman Ryan on the run to turn one. In their wake, Kelly had made a good start to annex fourth from Reynolds, with Welaratne also nipping by into the first corner. D’Alton, no doubt chasing maximum points, snatched the lead on lap two with an impressive move around the outside at the Esses.
Roger Welaratne and David Reynolds were enjoying a fantastic scrap (below) for the duration before both were jumped at once by the opportunistic Colin Deering as the trio lapped unsuspecting newbie Ian McGrath!
At the line, it was D’Alton for the win, pulling himself right back into contention for the title from the resurgent Bruton, with race one winner Ryan in third, just, from series leader Greg Kelly (who received third place points as Ryan was not registered.) Deering was a delighted fifth after his move, while Welaratne was sixth from Rookie winner Reynolds.
Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2018 Stryker Championship take place on July 29th at Kirkistown in Northern Ireland.
Images from Michael Chester