The Irish Stryker class returned to Mondello Park last weekend for rounds four and five of their 2020 Championship, at the Leinster Trophy race meeting.
Having taken pole position and two wins at the opening rounds, Dave Reynolds was confident of increasing his championship lead, but this time round he faced a new, and hugely experienced opponent. Michael Cullen has won many championships, from the Fiat Uno Cup at Mondello all the way to the heady heights of the European Ferrari Challenge. Having enjoyed, and won, a one off Stryker race in 2019, he decided to compete in the championship this year and purchased a car, which has been prepared by his usual Murray Motorsport team.
With Cullen having been incredibly quick in pre season testing, many were of the opinion that he would start on pole position, and indeed his Murray Motorsport crew held out P1 on his pitboard towards the end of qualifying. They hadn’t budgeted for a last lap flier from Reynolds though, and it was he who would line up on pole position for the first of the afternoon’s two races.
When the lights went out though, Reynolds baulked slightly and Cullen was ahead. Neither though, had an answer for the fast starting Vinnie O’Rourke. The local man has quite the reputation for nailing a standing start and he proved it on this occasion as he blasted by both front row occupants on the way to turn one. O’Rourke’s lead was short lived however, as Cullen immediately attacked, swooping past into turn three, with O’Rourke tucking in behind. Also on a charge was Des Meehan, who eased by Reynolds on the opening lap. Reynolds powered by before the end of the lap but went off at Paddock Bend, allowing Meehan through again. Cullen completed the opening lap well ahead of O’Rourke, who was equally far ahead of a three way battle comprising Meehan, Reynolds and Roger Welaratne. As the race progressed, Reynolds consolidated himself in third place and began to reel in O’Rourke. Meanwhile, despite appearances, all was not well with the leader, his Beacon Medical car beginning to suffer with clutch woes. He had enough to make it to the flag unchallenged though, with O’Rourke just coming out tops in a hectic last lap scrap with Reynolds and Welaratne.
In race two, Cullen once again led away. O’Rourke again got a great start but it wasn’t enough to overhaul the front occupants this time round so Reynolds tucked in behind the leader into turn one. The lead pair immediately began to ease away from the pack, with Reynolds appearing to have the pace to stay with Cullen. Just before half distance though, Cullen’s car began to falter and at the end of lap four, he coasted to a halt on the main straight, courtesy of a battery failure. This handed the leaded to Reynolds and he made no mistake to come home for his third win of 2020. Welaratne was runner up, with O’Rourke in third ahead of Meehan, Pat Bergin and an improving Stephen Kelly.
Championship Standings after Four Rounds:
1. David Reynolds 79
2. Vincent O’Rourke 61
3. Pat Bergin 41
4. Dominic Ryan 40
5. Stephen Kelly 37
6. Des Meehan 32
7. Roger Welaratne 29
8. Adrian Deasy 28
9. Michael Cullen 22
10. Colin Marnane 17
The Strykers return to Mondello Park for rounds 5 & 6 of their 2020 Championship on September 27th