The Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST championship continued to entertain as it returned to Mondello earlier this month for rounds three and four of the 2020 series.
Alex Denning was utterly dominant at the opening rounds in July, having taken pole, two wins and fastest lap and he already enjoyed a strong lead in the title chase. It was hardly surprising then, when he grabbed pole position early in the qualifying session before heading to the pitlane, where he sat with his Murray Motorsport team as the others tried in vain to better his laptime. Series sponsor Graham McDonnell got closest, meaning he would join Denning on the front row, while former three time class champion Dave Maguire was third, on his first outing of 2020. Kevin Doran was fourth, ahead of Michael Cullen and Barry-John McHenry.
Off the line both Denning and McDonnell didn’t make the best of starts but Kevin Doran’s start from P4 was worse. While Dave Maguire and Michael Cullen were all over the front row starters at the first corner, Denning and McDonnell head on and began to pull clear. While McDonnell, who would recorded the fastest lap, looked like he might challenge Denning for the lead, he was denied that chance as the race was red flagged because of cars off the track in two different locations.
“That was shorter than expected”, said a very pleased Denning, the win his third in as many races. He continued, “I didn’t get the best start but Graham didn’t get a good start either”. Getting ‘a bit of wheelspin’ off the line, the Murray Motorsport driver added, “that’s something I need to improve for the next one but even with the perfect start I’m am going to have lots to do starting P6,”
McDonnell said, “It was a tight start off the line with everyone. I didn’t have enough revs so it wasn’t a good start but once we got going myself and Alex were racing on our own really. Nothing crazy happened’. He added, ‘It was disappointing it was red flagged because i was hoping to have at least one attempt to try and pass him. Alex drove very well and congrats to him on the win.”
Maguire made no excuses for his uneventful race by saying, “I didn’t have the pace to run with the lads at the front. I was a couple of tenths off per lap.” The former champion was however excited about the day’s second encounter adding, “It’s going to be very interesting second race, I’m starting fourth. I think Kevin Doran should walk away with it from the front row but it’ll be close between the rest of us.”
Starting on the front row as a result of his 5th place finish the first of the day’s races, Doran quickly established a lead but admitted afterwards he was aware of the pressure from second placed finisher Michael Cullen. At the flag, Doran had 1.7-seconds over Cullen with third placed Dave Maguire a distant 4.3-second further back. The main action of the race was between championship leader Alex Denning and former champion Maguire, but the young charger opted to settle for 4th which, along with pole and Race 1 victory, sees him leave Mondello with an extended championship lead.
Summing up Rounds 3 & 4 of the championship, Doran said, “I bogged the start in the first one and dropped way back. I was able to make up a few spots but I ran out of time. Race 2 I had clear road so I was able to run at maximum pace.”. Setting a new lap record for the class around the International circuit, the Monaghan driver, added, “I’m delighted with the lap record given the standard of guys in the championship. I wasn’t pushing for it but the pressure from Michael (Cullen) was consistent. I’m delighted with the win.”
Reacting to his second place after taking 4th in Race 1, Cullen said, “There was a bit of action at the start I was able able to move up to second. After that it stayed a bit static. On the first part of the track I was bit faster but on the second part he was faster so I never got a chance to challenge him for the win. Still it was a good end to the weekend.”
In his second season of the Fiesta STs, Denning was pleased with his weekend’s points haul saying, “It’s been another great weekend. Pole, a win and fourth extend my lead in the championship. Thanks to all my sponsors for the support.” Coming through from 6th on the grid to secure 4th in Race 2, less than a second off Maguire, he explained, “I had a couple of potential moments to pace Dave but I kept the championship in mind and I knew my main challenger for the title Graham (McDonnell) was behind me.”
The Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST Series returns to Mondello Park this Sunday for rounds five and six of the championship.
Championship Positions After Four rounds:
1. Alex Denning 78
2. Kevin Doran 63
3. Graham McDonnell 62
4. Ross Barnes 41
5. Michael Fitzgerald 38
6. Barry John McHenry 36
Images from Michael Chester.