It’s the opening round of the Irish motor racing season. The steely eyes give it away. He looks older, but not much. He certainly is as trim and as fit as he was when he won the Uno Cup and Dunlop Sexton Trophy well over over two decades ago. The colour scheme, blue and yellow are even the same, as is his race number, 22. Michael Barrable is back.
This time though, it’s not a Fiat Uno racecar, but it is the closest thing you can get nowdays, a Palletstorage.ie Fiesta Zetec racer. The car was driver to victory by Michael’s son Peter last year but has been treated to a makeover over the winter and enforced lockdown and now sports the above colour scheme. A quick chat with Michael after a recent test showed that none of his prowness, or competitiveness had disappeared since he last raced regularly at Mondello Park.
He was never going to be far away, but it must have raised a few eyebrows when the MBmotors.ie machine claimed pole position, after the closest qualifying session in the class in a long time. Just two tenths covered the top nine cars, ensuring that the opening race would not be a walk in the park for anyone.
Michael was just beaten off the line by reigning Zetec Champion William Kellett but he fought back immediately. Kellett is a class act and despite getting alongside on a number of occasions, it seemed Barrable had no answer- until the final lap. Having forced Kellett to defend at Southside, it appeared he was going to try a trademark switchback on the exit. Kellett saw it coming and covered it, crucially scrubbing of his exit speed. The wily Barrable, however, had other ideas and swept around the outside, still in second but carrying far more speed. This made it a drag race to the line and in one of the best Zetec races of recent times, Barrable it was who took the win- by the narrowest of margins.
Michael is back to defend his slim championship lead at The Leinster Trophy meeting at Mondello Park on September 12/13.