After an action packed weekend at Bishopscourt Race Circuit in Northern Ireland last month, the Keelan Construction Fiesta Zetec Championship was back at Mondello Park in County Kildare last weekend.
William Kellett took pole position for the first of three races but reigning champion Owen Purcell was just a hundreth of a second off with class newbie Stanislaw Ukleja continuing to impress in third. Andy Kavanagh, Darren Lawler and Mondello Park’s Phil Lawless rounded out the top six of the 22 car grid- easily the biggest grid of the weekend once again. Others of note included class sponsor Daniel Keelan in 16th, whose Gunshot Motorsport team had literally finished his new car in the paddock on the Friday, his original car having been destroyed in a high speed incident at Bishopscourt.
Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson had brought a glare of publicity to the series when it was announced that she would be driving the celebrity car for the weekend. Mentored by Nicole Drought, and supported by Motorsport Ireland, Mondello Park and Formula Female, she qualified 18th for her first ever race.
When the lights went out for the opening race, it was Kellett who grabbed the lead with Ulkeja shadowing him as Purcell struggled for gears, courtesy of engine mount issues. No doubt bouyed by his maiden win in Bishopscourt, Ukleja eased by Kellett to take the lead and looked set for win number two. He didn’t anticipate Kellett’s perfectly timed dive down the inside on the last corner of the last lap, however, the Dunshaughlin Motor Company backed driver taking the win and putting his championship aspirations firmly back on track. Unfortunately for Ukleja, his day wasn’t to get any better, as his car failed technical scrutiny and he was excluded from the results. This elevated a delighted Kavanagh to second, from local man Lloyd Murphy, the only one of a high speed train who had been able to penetrate the impressive defences of Lawless! Collie Barrable was fifth with Purcell earning pole for race two courtesy of his sixth place finish.
Purcell’s torrid day was not to get any better as he immediately dropped down the pack as race two started. He was given a second chance though, when the race was red flagged after Ukleja went off at Southside corner. This time he led away, under pressure from the starting Lloyd Murphy but, struggling for gears, missed a shift and damaged his engine, sending him to the pits. He would take no further part in proceedings and could only sit and watch as his series lead disappeared. Shortly afterwards, the red flags flew again, courtesy of Shane Egan’s high speed roll when he contacted the tyres at the second last corner. At the restart, it was Collie Barrable who grabbed the lead and he held on for a popular win, despite the best efforts of Murphy, who followed him over the line. Kellett was third, from Kavanagh, Lawless and Barry Barrable. Ashling Thompson, meanwhile, had a charging drive to come home 12th, her best lap time just a second off that of the race winner.
Barry Barrable converted his pole for race three into a lead and eased away from the battling pack early on. Kellett was on a charge, however and moved to second before reeling the longtime saloon racer in. As Barrable defended into Southside Corner, Kellett sat around the outside, and was ahead as the pair approached the Esses. Kellett subsequently eased away to take his second win of the weekend, whilst Barrable fought off Kavanagh for second. Barrable, however, was also to fall foul of the technical process and found himself excluded, allowing Wayne Laverick to join Kellett and Kavanagh on the podium.
Rounds nine and ten of the Keelan Construction Fiesta Zetec Championship take place at Mondello Park on July 13/14
William Kellett “This weekend went better than I could ever have imagined. There was a lot of good hard close racing and to come away with two wins out of it is a great result. It certainly tightens up the race for the championship and it’s exactly what I needed after a slow start.”
Leo Nulty, Fiesta Zetec Championship Manager. “The hard work we have put in is beginning to bear fruit. Most of the cars were well presented and the technical clampdown meant we had some very close racing all weekend.”
Images from Michael Chester