The Palletstorage.ie Fiesta Zetec Championship entry list looked wide open just a week ago, with a mix of new and experienced drivers making up the entry. A flurry of last minute additions had everyone talking though as some of the quickest drivers in the country threw their respective hats into the the ring for the budget saloon championship opener.
First to announce were the Kellett Motorsport father and son team of William and Alastair. Having abandoned their UK racing plans due to travel restrictions, the reigning class champion William and his multiple title winning father were never going to be easily beaten. Next up were the Murray Motorsport squad, who dusted off two of their 6 Hour Endurance rental machines for Niall and Eoin Murray- both of whom have won many races and titles.
Despite all this, Michael Barrable, returning to full time racing after a long absence, topped the timesheet by a fraction when the chequered flag fell at the end of qualifying. William Kellett was just a fraction away in second with Eoin Murray equally close in third. In fact, the top nine cars were covered by a scant two tenths of a second ensuring the prospect of a great opening race!
When the lights went out for race one, William Kellett nailed it to perfection, chopping across the bows of Barrable to grab the lead as the pack jostled for position on the run to turn one. Barrable was on the attack straight away, with Murray in close attendance, from Alastair Kellett. Just behing though, Andy Kavanagh suffered brake failure, the resultant shunt bringing out the red flags and giving Barrable a second chance at the restart. Kellett led away once again though and despite the persistant efforts, who drew alongside on numerous occasions, looked like he was heading towards the perfect start to his title defence. He hadn’t planned on the hugely experienced Barrable getting a great run off Southside Corner on the final lap though. The two cars were door to door on the run the line and it was hard to see which had taken the win. The official timing gave Barrable the verdict- by just seven thousandths of a second, with Alistair following his son home to complete the podium in third.
Michael Barrable: “That was my first start in 23 years and I bogged down just a little bit. William got ahead and was driving really well but I managed to get the job done out of the last corner- just! That was a really enjoyable day, I’m looking forward to the rest of the championship now!”
As usual in the Zetec Championship, the top six finishers in race one were reversed to form the grid for the second race. This left class returnee Ulick Burke (above) on pole position with Mark Johnston alongside.Burke made no mistakes and used all his experience to hold off a train of challengers and took the chequered flag for an impressive win despite the best efforts of Alastair Kellett on the run to the line. Eoin Murray was right with them in third.
Images from Cregor Elliott