The Irish Stryker class, once described as “recessionproof”, due to the fact that they managed to keep grids up when others shrank, is back for 2019, bigger and better. Details of their Championship for the forthcoming season were announced at the Motorsport Launch Party at the Naas Court Hotel last week, with plenty of entertainment for guests and cars on display too.
Champion Greg Kelly has happily abandoned any silly thoughts of selling his car and is back to defend his hard won title- with a vengance! He won’t find it easy though as class veteran and Kelly’s perennial challenger Andy D’Alton is also back- and keen to take his first title, having finished as runner on what he describes as “one too many occasions.”
The experienced pair face a host of challengers though, many of who will also have their eye on the top step of the podium. Steve Ross, buoyed by his double win in front of the TV cameras in Mondello last September, is back for a full championship campaign and surely will be keen to keep his winning streak going. Des Bruton may be the class elder, but he makes no allowances for petty things like age and is devastatingly fast, especially when the rain comes. He should never be discounted. At the other end of that spectrum is Nicole Drought. Back for her second year in the Zetec powered sportscars, Nicole has been working hard on her fitness over the winter and also has been practising on the simulators with the Virtual Race Academy. Having won already this year- at an Endurance Trial, her aim is to make her flashes of front running pace in 2018, far more regular.
Irish Stryker series are also on the bill.. Image from Michael Chester
Adrian Deasy may be far more used to the navigator seat in a rally car, but he was incredibly quick from the off when he joined the class late last year- don’t be surprised if he moves forward a few more places this time round.
Niall McFadden is a class newbie and he has purchased the multiple title winning Alan Watkins machine. The car has already been given a makeover by Murray Motorsport and looks amazing. Conal Shipman became a dad last year and missed a few races but is back for 2019 and like Bruton, appears to have webbed feet. If it rains, watch him go! Colin Deering is also on the grid for the opening round and has plenty of experience. He showed good pace at the Leinster Trophy meeting too, as did Dominic Ryan. Mike Ward is another class regular and he is entered for this weekend alongside 2018 rookie Ian McGrath.
Roger Welaratne has experience and pace and although he missed a few outings in 2018, he is back for the duration this time round and will not be far from the front. The final one to join the class is Vincent “VW Vinny” O’Rourke. Despite minimal experience, he is always quick and spectaular and if he can stay out of trouble, might just spring a surprise!
The opening two rounds of the 2019 Irish Stryker Championship take place this Saturday the 13th of April at Mondello Park. With 18 cars on the grid, the 160bhp sportscars form one of the biggest grids of the weekend!
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