Entries maybe have been slightly down at this years Fiesta 6 hour Endurance Race, but quality certainly wasn’t. In fact there were very few of the 23 teams who lined up on the start line at midday last Sunday, who didn’t have some sort of notions about finishing at the sharp end 6 hours later.
The Naas Court Hotel/Clane Motor Factors car of Erik Holstein/Michael Leonard/Nicole Drought snatched pole position with a perfectly timed lap in the dying seconds of a drying qualifying session, just pipping the Swipe Right Racing entry of William Kellett, Jack Byrne Anthony Fildes and Max Hart. When they got away it was Holstein leading, with Kellett right on his bumper, the duo opening a slight gap immediately. Holstein had opined pre race that his engine might be a bit tired, having not been used since last year’s 6 Hour and this appeared to ring true as Kellett executed a switchback at Southside and breezed by into the lead starting the second lap. 2018 winners Michael Barrable Motors of Rob, Peter and Michael Barrable were on a charge with Rob at the helm. Having climbed to second he had a slight territorial dispute with the Naas Court car, which sent Holstein spinning down the escape road at turn two, before Barrable turned his attentions to the flying Kellett.
Barrable’s newly liveried car was showing a great turn of pace but a collapsed wheel bearing inside the first hour meant a lengthy pit stop, dropping them right to the back of the field, with no chance of repeating their 2018 victory. This left the SPCF Team or Mark Johnston, Mark O’Donohoe, Graham McDonnell and Thomas Mulready in second with Andy Kavanagh on a massive charge in third for Archer Motorsport.
An hour in and the Kellett car still led, but was now under pressure from the LOH Motorsport car of Dan Polley, Pat O’Dywer and Ronan McHale who had displaced the SPCF team. Ominiously the trio of Murray Motorsport cars were next up, gradually clawing their way up the order after disappointing qualifying results. Chris Jones, Darragh and John Denning and Niki Meredith were leading the Murray Armada in fourth from Team Harry- Rod and Harry McGovern along with Brian Berry, whilst the #32 car of Michael Cullen, Dave Maguire and Sean Doyle were sixth. Another hour in and the LOH car had taken the lead with Swipe Right hanging on in second and Team Harry in third. The polesitting Naas Court car had recovered to tenth, while a penalty had dropped Archer Motorsport to fourteenth. Barrables had rejoined at this stage, with the intention of chasing fastest lap. Other fancied runners who were well down the grid were former winners DCS comprising Kevin Doran, Sean Lillis and Ulick Burke, who had served a stop go for a pitlane speeding infringement, and the second LOH car of Barry John McHenry, Alan Dawson and Kevin O’Hara, which had pitted to refit their front bumper after an on track scuffle, but also suffered from fuel surge issues.
Inside the final third of the race and it was still LOH leading the pack but the Mondello F1 team of Tommy Byrne, David Kennedy and Sé Óg Martin had eased their way up to second, with team mates Jones/Denning/Meredith/Denning in third with Swipe Right in fourth and Plan Z (Colm and Keith McCloughry and rallycrosser John Ward ) in fifth. Having fought their way to fifth, the Naas Court Hotel team were out, with Michael Leonard pulling off after a massively spectacular engine blow at the Esses!
With an hour to go, Kellett’s Swipe Right were once again at the head of the field. The Mondello F1 team were still in second with LOH Motorsport in third. Crucially, all three were on the same lap, setting us up for a grandstand finish- in the dark! After the final stop, LOH were back in the lead and, with the rain down, they had Formula Vee rainmeister Dan Polley at the wheel. Disaster had befallen the Mondello F1 crew though, as two wheel studs broke at the final pit stop, forcing another stop for repairs. Anthony Fildes was at the wheel of the Swipe Right car, but was struggling with worn brakes and being hauled in by a charging John Denning. With the rain streaming down, Polley looked comfortable. The same couldn’t be said for second and third. Denning had hauled Fildes in and grabbed runner up spot. An off track excursion sent him back to third and he had it all to do again. He managed to catch the Kellett Motorsport car and ease by again but visited the greenery once more and handed it back!
In the closing laps there was more drama as leader Polley went off and visited the gravel trap at turn three, giving the LOH crew a fright. He managed to keep going though and took a well earned and popular win, with Swipe Right second and Denning’s Murray Motorsport team in third. David Kennedy, Tommy Byrne and Sé Óg Martin were a disappointed fourth, ahead of the McCloughry’s Plan Z and Gunshot Motorsport crew of Owen Purcell, Wayne Laverick, Dan Keelan and Darragh McMullen. Just 17 of the 23 cars were classified at the end of 6 hours of racing.
1 LOH Motorsport (Dan Polley/Ronan McHale/Patrick O’Dwyer) 279 laps,
2 Swipe Right Racing (William Kellett/Anthony Fildes/Jack Byrne/Max Hart) 279 laps,
3 MMS T34 (Chris Jones/John Denning/Niki Meredith/Darragh Denning) 279 laps,
4 Mondello F1 (David Kennedy/Tommy Byrne/Se Martin Jnr) 275 laps,
5 Plan Z (Colm McCloughry/Keith McCloughry/John Ward) 273 laps,
6 Gunshot Motorsport (Daniel Keelan/Owen Purcell/Darragh McMullen/Wayne Laverick) 273 laps,
7 DCS (Kevin Doran, Sean Lillis, Ulick Burke) 272 laps,
8 MMS T31 (Sam Peters/Catherine Skeens/Josh Skeens/Greg Monks) 270 laps,
9 RWR Racing (John Whelan/Robert Whelan/Jonathan Taylor) 270 laps,
10 Mondello Mafia (Roddy Greene/Ian Beatty/Ken Elliott/Philip Lawless) 270 laps.
Fastest lap: Team Barrable 1m 11.571s, 57.82 mph.
Text: Leo Nulty
Images: Michael Chester