I suppose I am writing this as a kind of farewell to my racing with MicksGarage.com Future Classics.
My first ever race season was with this class back in 2016. I started that race season very green and really didn’t know very much about actually racing a car door to door. I had only done a few track days and a few rounds of Time Attack in 2015. My first race was in the March race meeting 2016, and it was a baptism of fire! Most will know that in Future Classics we have a barrier time, there was similar in the ITCC production class for a while. Of course the first thing I did in qualifying was break this time and land myself at the back of the grid for the race.
There were nineteen cars on the grid that day, I’ll never forget sitting all the way back and trying to figure out a way to the top. Lights out and away I went! There was an off straight away at turn 1 as a disc broke in Ken Byrne’s car and he buried it in the sand. Yellow flags “apparently” came out but me- the rookie- never spotted them. I passed a few cars under yellow flags (and if I hadn’t opened my eyes on the main straight I’d have passed the safety car too;) I eventually figured out the process and let cars take their places back, but some didn’t reclaim which meant I’d be getting a grid penalty after the race. When the race restarted, I started making some progress again passing cars until I found myself in p3. I tried hard for the last two laps but at this stage my clapped out tyres just had enough. I was delighted to have finished in the top three on the track but officially I’d place 7th overall and get three points on my licence for passing under yellow flags. Ill never forget that race, it was incredibly exciting and I knew I made the right move to get into racing. After the race there was the usual great banter with the lads, Aidan Byrne even made me tea and stirred it with an old screwdriver that was sitting on the table..:) That season passed and I ended up finishing 2nd overall in the championship. I was delighted with this for my first season but I knew I could have done better if I didn’t keep breaking that barrier time. I learnt a lot in that year racing and looked forward to 2017. Over the winter in 2017 I did some development on the car and decided to move into the ITCC Championship. With no barrier time I thought I would learn more about car development and how to drive faster. I only did a few races in this season and had some success with a few podiums. Reliability was an issue and I never got the car 100% but really enjoyed the challenge from a lot more powerful cars.
In 2018 Aidan Byrne asked me to come back racing with Future Classics. The introduction of the new Super class with a faster barrier time was the selling point. With news that ITCC had dropped Production/Touring class, I decided to run the Saxo in Future Classics again for 2018. I have always loved this class for its great mix of cars and friendly appeal. Round one got me very excited with a very tight race which I finished 2nd, another race I really feel I should have won. Nevertheless, I was very happy with the result, and had some great close battles especially with Brian Sexton in his first run out with the class in the now Formula Female Rover 25 GTI.
Without going into huge detail, the rest of this year would bring many mechanical failures and barrier time breaches. After Kirkistown, my championship hopes were pretty much gone, I was winning on the track but eclipsing the barrier time on almost every occasion. All efforts to slow the car with weight, tyres and rev limits were failing. At the Vee Festival I finally got my first official win of the season in race two. Race one I did finish first but again broke the barrier twice, but only by a few tenths! Had I only broke it once in this race I actually would have taken the win as I had pulled the ten second penalty back on the field. One of the highlights of the 2018 race season for me was the Historic Racing Festival at Mondello Park in August. Future Classics had been invited to take part in two non championship races for this event. The good news was there would be no timing (so no barrier time) but all other rules would apply. This was my chance to see what the car could really do. I normally run a very basic road tyre to curb the barrier time, but for this race I picked up some fresh Yokahama AO50, thanks to Coly Loughlin for helping with these. The rev limit was adjusted to 7800 rpm and I ran no ballast and just enough fuel to get the race done. The first race I started on pole and pretty much led from lights to flag pulling a big gap during the race. I was very surprised how well the car responded to the setup changes and I certainly didn’t think I would pull such a gap on the pack. After the race I checked the data and pretty much all my laps were low 2:01s with my best being 2:00.7 on lap 3, from memory. My second race didn’t go so well as I broke my driveshaft on the opening lap and ended up watching it from 7B. The weekend itself was epic! Old F1 and F5000 cars racing at close quarters, and getting to meet and see Tommy Byrne in action was an incredible honour. This was a weekend ill never forget for many reasons, If I get to race at the 100th I will be 87 years old so that’s probably going to become a goal at some stage:)
The final event of the year was the Leinster Trophy in September. This would conclude our championship for 2018. I was well out of contention, but really wanted to see the championship out and keep the grids up as they had been huge all year. It was great to see another huge entry for Micksgarage.com Future Classics and just what the class deserved to finish the year on a high. I was praying for two wet races as I knew my car was too fast for the barrier time on the international layout at Mondello Park. I know this track layout pretty well from doing track days where I would do countless laps over the past few years. Prayers were 30% answered on the Sunday morning as qualifying would be wet and races looked like dry ones. After a wet qualifying I ended up P3 for race one and P1 for race two. Race one I got a great start from P3 and got the lead before turn 3. I kept a nice pace on a drying track until the yellow flags waved. Eventually the safety car would be called out and ultimately the race was red flagged. I ended up quite confused with some aspects of this race, especially when we were re gridded for a restart. After the restart I continued to lead the race until yet another yellow flag and safety car was deployed. This time the race restarted under safety car and I got away flying! I kept the lead from Ger Byrne and Anthony Kelly until the chequered flag. I was declared the race winner based on the restart. Needless to say, I was delighted as I heard I broke the barrier time in the first race by five tenths of a second on lap two. I would later learn that this had been reversed and race one results would count, which left my 4th . This race was very messy and I’m probably still not sure if I understand the outcome. Race two was a different animal altogether! I was on P1 and made the decision to forget the barrier time and remove some restrictions, not all but most. Again I got a great start. My car isn’t hugely powerful, but it’s light and has amazing traction. I pulled a big lead into turn 3 until I put a wheel on the oil left down from the previous race. At this stage I was a passenger and actually lucky not to flip the car on its roof. The entire grid of 21 cars passed me as I restarted the car and progressed back onto the track. The plan now was to just get back to the front. I wanted to end my season on a high and fully enjoy doing what I love. I drove the heart out of the little car for the next 2/3 laps until I got back to P1 and set off pulling a gap again. I knew I was breaking the barrier time, but I knew I broke it in race one so I might as well just go for it! I did cross the line first but with all my penalties I ended up second last officially. Anthony and Aidan finished this race 1st & 2nd respectively and I was delighted, they both broke the barrier time but they pulled the gap and got the win. I felt they did it my way and got the result which made me smile actually!
Unfortunately this will be my last race in Future Classics, with this car anyway. I have tried hard to make it fit in, but it seems to like being a bit of an outcast! Who knows what lies ahead now but ill definitely be making this car and myself even faster. The development is as much the buzz for me as the racing inself. I will stay on with the lads doing all I can to help behind the scenes with running of the class. Future Classics has earned the respect of many and is fast becoming one of the most successful classes of its time at Mondello Park. Little changes are happening every year to try steer the class into the path of anyone looking to start or get back into racing. It’s affordable and very open which is probably the most important point to make. The racing is close and with the grids at 20+ you won’t be without learning a thing or two about racecraft.
But there is one thing for sure! Like Big Tom said.. “Im going out the same way I came in” (breaking that barrier) 😉
By Adrian Dunne
My first Future Classic race in 2016:
My final Future Classic Race in 2018:
Header Image from Michael Chester