Come September in Irish motor racing circles there is always talk of Senna, Hakinnen, Watson and Eddie Jordan. Why? Because they all won the famous Leinster Trophy of course!
Next Saturday and Sunday at Mondello Park the Leinster Trophy takes place once again and its is the high speed BOSS Ireland class who have the honour of racing for the prestigious prize. Looking at the form book, you’d be silly to bet against newly crowned champion Paul O’Connell- or would you?
O’Connell has done a superb job all year at the wheel of his beautiful Red Bull liveried Dallara World Series car. He has done all of the winning but that said, he has had to fight off a few challenges along the way.
Sam Mansfield is great to watch and in Bishopscourt he really made O’Connell fight for it as he wrestled with his beautiful Finnstown Castle liveried Radical around the high speed airfield circuit. Eamonn Matheson is always spectacular too and his Jade is so quick in a straight line it is almost cartoon like when he presses the loud pedal. The Co Down man has been working hard on two things, handling and reliability. As has long been said in the BOSS paddock, if he sorts those, everyone could be in trouble. This year, Eamonn has made progress in both and I would be surprised if he does not lead the race, at least in the early stages- regardless of his qualifying position!
Stephen Daly is a regular winner of the famous trophy and he is back once again for another shot at the title. As quick as anyone around Mondello, his family prepared F3 car won’t be lacking in anything. It will be interesting to see how the combination compares against O’Connell. Bear in mind here, that until Paul upgraded to the World Series machine, the general opinion was that an F3 car was quicker around Mondello than the bigger cars- this weekend we will find out if that is still true! Paul Dagg is another former winner and has been at the sharp end of Irish single seater racing for more years than I care to remember. Last year he got the jump off the line and valiantly held off a determined Daly for over half the race. No doubt he will have effected improvements ahead of this year’s event to ensure he has more pace. Kevan McLurg Sylvie Mullins and Fergus Faherty are also entered in F3 cars and both should be quick, whilst Michael Connolly, Alex Wilsdon and Stryker regular Mike Ward are all Radical mounted. Michael Roche has a Hyabusa powered Dallara F3 car, which is quick, but fragile and class regular John Stewart will also join in the fun in his Mygale- Ford Eco Boost. Max Hart and Mark Reade are also out in the works Leastone 1000 machines. They might be outgunned in terms of power, but not commitment- expect entertainment from both!
Noel Roddy has raced in the Leinster Trophy many many times, the first time being 30 years ago. Happily, he is prepping his Monoposto spec F3 machine and is hoping to be on the grid for the big race once again this Sunday. Barry Rabbitt said after the BOSS Ireland recent visit to Kirkistown he felt like he had brought a knife to a gunfight. Even his new gen Formula Renault shoudl not be a match for the F3 cars, but add in the Rabbitt factor- and who knows. He has gone for new rubber for the weekend- so his qualifying lap will be worth watching alone- and he will doubtless mix it with the big boys when the lights change, at least early on.
There is one other factor though, that could just fire the proverbial cat right into the middle of the
pigeons….. Jonathan Fildes has purchased the ex Peter Dwyer title winning Lola T96 and with backing from Kealy Construction has purchased a new engine- to the same spec as O’Connell. As I type this, the car is being mapped and Fildes and his team face a race against time to get the car on the grid. Fildes is a former three time Supercar/RT2000 champion and he also won the UK Clio Cup a few years back. As anyone who say him driving his late father Ken’s Ralt RT4 can testify, his level of commitment is unquestioned. A new car to him and a complete lack of testing all go against him- but in the unlikely event the stars align, do not be surprised if Jonathan joins his dad on the long and illustrious list of Leinster Trophy winners.
So happily it is not a foregone conclusion- there are quite a few potenital winners on the entry list so make sure you get yourself down to Mondello Park this weekend- I even have a few half price tickets- message the Motorsport.ie page on Facebook if you would like one.
Best of luck to all who are in with a shot of joining some very famous names on Sunday afternoon- may the best man win!