In many ways, Mondello Park’s end of season Fiesta 6 Hour race has become one of the highpoints of the season. Always closely fought, the entry list is generally packed with some very familiar names, from many different disciplines.
Formula 1 Drivers have competed, alongside BTCC and Tarmac Rally Champions, as well as the cream of the Mondello Paddock, from almost all of the various race classes. 2019 will be no different. Having fallen in love with the race last year, former F1 drivers Tommy Byrne and David Kennedy have signed up again and recruited karting star and 2018 Ginetta Junior Champion Sé Og Martin and a little bird that recently flew over the Murray Motorsport HQ suggests they are not there to make up numbers. They won’t have it too easy though, as the entry list suggests that this will be the most competitive 6 Hour ever at Mondello Park.
2018 winners Rob, Peter and father Michael return to defend their crown. (One wonders how many championships that trio have won between them!) This time, though, they have a different car and Peter won a championship round whilst shaking it down at the Leinster Trophy meeting recently. Bearing this in mind, they have to be favourites to do the double- or do they? Michael Cullen in another Murray Motorsport entry teams up with fellow Fiesta ST ace Dave Maguire and they have drafted in UK based Wicklowman Sean Doyle. Doyle’s last outing was in Murphy Prototypes Oreca LMP2 at Spa a few years ago. He won that and has had plenty of seat time in his UK Instructing/Driver coaching career since, so he won’t be slow!
Erik Holstein and Michael Leonard team up with Nicole Drought in the Naas Court Hotel/Gem Oils machine with ST title winning Philip Wright Motors team on the spanners. They were on course for second in the closing stages of the 2018 event, before a penalty cost them two spots.
2018 Zetec Champion Owen Purcell teams up with Darragh McMullen, Wayne Laverick and Daniel Keelan- all have plenty of Zetec experience and should be worth watching. Former winners Kevin Doran and Sean Lillis have enlisted UK F3 Cup Champion Cian Carey to their team too and will surely be aiming for the top step of the podium once again. Nicola Watkins and brother Alan team up with Emma Dempsey as WD Racing- and they have apparently procured a former title winning car for the race. Mark Meenahan’s SPCF (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Fiestas!) were extremely quick last year and are also on the entry list with former Zetec champion Mark O’Donoghue, ST frontrunner Graham McDonnell, and Zetec experts Mark Johnston and Thomas Mulready.
We did say it was going to be competitive- well there are more! Mondello Mafia are also back and as ever, are entered as number one. Despite the laid back attitude, they have been at the sharp end for the last number of years and the driver lineup of Roddy Greene, Ken Elliott, Ian Beatty and Phil Lawless remains unchanged. Johnny Whelan and Johnny Taylor are both former Supercar/RT2000 champions and they are joined by Johnny’s son Rob, more used to running at the front in various Targa rally events in a Starlet- keep an eye on that combination….
LOH Motorsport have also won this event previously and they have expanded to a two car operation for this weekend’s event. Both teams look pretty competitive. Alan Dawson and Barry John McHenry both have been successful in many other classes and Kevin O’Hara is one of the quickest drivers about so keep an eye on red #6! The second car will have former Vee champion and Leinster Trophy winner Dan Polley alongside former 6 Hour winner Ronan McHale and Pat O’Dwyer so once again should be there or thereabouts. The McCloughry “Plan Z” team have yet to name their third driver, but they have featured strongly at the event before and will surely be expecting to do so again this time round. Scuderia Spinardi are also back for their second attempt at the race, with Rory Cummins from the Rescue Unit managing Gar Campion, Jonathan Hollywood and Karl Lynch.
The interestingly named Swipe Right Racing team comprises Zetec Champion William Kellett, former Junior Champion Jack Byrne as well as Anthony Fildes and single seater star Max Hart. Young karter Harry McGovern joins dad Rod, alongside his former SEAT Supercup sparring partners John Farrelly and Brian Berry in a team that has plenty of experience. One of six cars run by the Murray Motorsport squad, they certainly will not be there to make up numbers. Fiesta ST regular Chris Jones lines up in another Murray car, with John and Darragh Denning and Legends frontrunner Niki Meredith for company. Archer Motorsports are back too, with regular pilots Andy Kavanagh and Fergal Collins joined once again by former Formula Vee lap record holder Denis Conheady.
So, even though entries may be down on previous years, quality certainly isn’t. It is hard to pick a potential winner from the teams above but one thing is for sure. Whoever wins this one will certainly deserve it. The race starts at 12 noon and finishes, unsurprisingly, at 6pm- in the dark. The atomosphere is always good, there is no charge at the gate and cars drivers and teams are very accessible so pop down and have a look. Best of luck to all teams and drivers.
Images from Michael Chester