Cullen Dominates But Reynolds Clinches Stryker Title
The Irish Stryker Championship came to a conclusion with a double header at last weekend’s Mondello Park race meeting. Dave Reynolds had led the championship from the beginning having taken two wins at the series opener and only needed a handful of points to assure himself of his first championship. As is often the case, when you have one hand on a championship, getting the job finished wasn’t as easy as everyone thought.
When the cars took to the track for qualifying it was the Murray Motorsport Beacon Medical machine of Michael Cullen who once again claimed pole position. Such was Cullen’s pace that he was almost a full second ahead of second place man Dominic Ryan, who has run very strongly at the end of the season. Third was Adrian Deasy, the former rally co driver progressing more and more at each meeting. The big news was that Reynolds had pulled in with engine failure after only a handful of laps and would therefore have to start the first race from the back of the grid- after a hasty engine change. Former Le Mans Murphy Prototypes team owner Greg Murphy was also out of luck, the gearbox of his rented car letting go early in the session, ensuring he would take no further part in the day’s proceedings.
As the first race approached, the skies darkened considerably and sure enough, the heavens opened early on. Cullen had led away but Ryan and Deasy stabilised the gap before mid race and looked as if they had closed in briefly. Once the rain abated though, and the track dried, Cullen increased his lead once again to cross the line over fifteen seconds to the good, with Deasy just beating Ryan to the line, the official gap being less than two tenths of a second! Meanwhile, things were going from bad to worse for the class champion elect, Reynolds having retired with a few laps to run.
Conditions were much better for the second race with sunshine and dry tarmac greeting the Zetec powered machines for their final outing of the 2020 season. Despite the top six on the grid being reversed, Cullen was once again in dominant form, streaking away from the battling pack and setting a new class lap record on his way to his second win of the day. Vincent O’Rourke, who has made quite the name for himself for fast starts this year, initially led before being deposed by the flying Cullen at turn two, then found himself spun around courtesy of contact with another competitor.
If the battle for runner up spot had been close in race one, it was closer again in race two, with Meehan holding off Roger Welaratne by a hundreth of a second for the place. Class newcomer Steven Kelly was on a charge too and had closed right up to the second place battle before mistakenly thinking the race was over with a lap to run. By the time he realised his mistake, Dominic Ryan had stolen the place and there was no time to fight back!
To complete Reynolds’ day from hell, he also retired from race two. Happily though, his impressive results all season long meant that he had enough in hand to clinch the title. Vincent O’Rourke had been his closest challenger, but his assisted off track excursion, allied to Cullen’s double win meant he dropped to third in the standings, with Cullen vaulting to runner up spot.
David Reynolds: “Irish Strykers Champion. What a privilege it is to be able to say that. I have so many people to thank for their help and support, especially after this disastrous weekend. After having a blown engine in quali, I thought my season was done. 70 minutes later all the lads had helped to get the spare in and I cannot thank everyone enough. If that doesn’t prove that Strykers isn’t one of the best classes in Ireland I don’t know what does! Huge thanks to the all the lads in the class, all the event organisers for getting us out this year, marshals and crews, Mondello Park and to Leo Nulty and the media for the fantastic coverage and support all year. Bring on the title defence next year!”
Images from Michael Chester