Erik Holstein has starred all year in the Dennings Cars Fiesta ST Championship and at a rain soaked Leinster Trophy weekend at Mondello Park, he added the 2019 title to his long list of motorsport achievements.
A double win at the opening meeting of the season for the Naas Court Hotel backed driver set him up for an impressive debut season in Fiestas. With the title all but sewn up, the former showjumper was hoping to go out on a high at last weekend’d Leinster Trophy meeting but qualified an unaccustomed third. Alex Denning, who has also starred in the class this year with four wins, took pole position on a rain soaked track with triple class champion Dave Maguire alongside. Holstein shared row two with class returnee Kevin Doran. Michael Cullen and Graham McDonnell were next up and they were about to play a pivotal part in the start of the first race.
Maguire got the jump on Denning and appeared to lead into turn one, but the pair clashed with Maguire being spun out. Holstein was right with them, but backed out of it, mindful of his championship aspirations. Unbeknownst to him though, Cullen and McDonnell had come together in the braking zone with the latter being spun onto the grass on the infield, headed straight for the leaders. Unfortunately, as he turned in, Holstein was collected heavily by McDonnell with the champion elect out on the spot. This brought out a red flag as Holstein’s damaged car was collected.
At the restart, Denning discovered three into Turn Two won’t go, as he came off worst of a skirmish with the charging Doran and Maguire, dropping him back. As Doran made his escape, Denning charged back up to third, before finding the experienced Cullen a more difficult prospect. He managed it into the final corner though and set off after Doran. The leader had it all under control though, and took a popular victory from Denning and Cullen, with Maguire and an inspired Trevor Farrar in there too.
Holstein’s Philip Wright Motors team, working flat out, had fitted new suspension and managed to get the car to the grid for the second race, but they would have to start right at the very back. Bouyed by his win in race one, and despite the fact that the top six, as usual, were reversed for the second race, Doran nailed the start to perfection and slotted between the two rows in front to somehow lead into turn one, to the delights of his vocal supporters in the grandstand. Similarly, Holstein, eager to end the season on a high, somehow exited turn two in fifth place and was challenging for third half way round the opening lap before being collected by a sideways car and finding himself knocked back down the order. As Doran made his escape, it was Cullen in second, with Denning in third. Holstein recovered to fourth and closed down the duo, but despite plenty of typical ST door to door action, that’s how it stayed to the flag.
Doran was also awarded the Goodyear Cup for his win in race two, while Holstein was crowned 2019 Dennings Cars champion after an action packed season.
Erik Holstein, 2019 Dennings Cars Fiesta ST Champion: “The car wasn’t great in qualifying but after a few changes, I knew on the out lap of race one that the lads had nailed the setup. I was confident of fighting for the win but only got as far as turn one! Race two was fun, the car felt great again and I was with the leaders inside a lap- from the back! A big thanks to Phil (Wright) and Jay, not only for getting the car out for race two, but for a fantastic job all year. This championship is as much theirs as it is mine. Also a big thanks to Michael in the Naas Court Hotel for his generous support!”
Leo Nulty, Fiesta ST Championship Manager: “Congratulations to Erik Holstein. He was a great addition to the class this year and gave us great entertainment. I have no doubt that Alex Denning is a future star too and I think it is fair to say these guys raised the bar in 2019. It was great to have Kevin Doran back on the grid too- what a weekend for him. I would love to see him out for a full season in 2020. Many thanks to Dennings Cars, Fleet ID and Murray Motorsport for their support of the series once again!”
Images from Michael Chester