Michael Cullen staked his claim to the 2021 Bill Griffin Motors Stryker Championship in the best possible way with a double win at Mondello Park on Saturday.
The Strykers joined the opening meeting of the new Irish Championship Circuit Racing (ICCR) initiative, and enjoyed plenty of social media coverage all weekend as a result.
Having topped the times in testing, Cullen was confident enough to set a time early on in qualifying and then sit in the pitlane saving his tyres as the others tried- in vain- to beat it. 2020 Champion Dave Reynolds got closest, but was almost 8 tenths back, and just a fraction ahead of local man Vinny O’Rourke.
When the lights went out for race one, all eyes were on O’Rourke in third, known as the master of the standing start. For once though, the bright green car was swamped by the pack on the run down to turn one as Cullen led away. Reynolds was one of the few to match Cullen for pace in 2020 and it looked the same in the early stages as the pair ran nose to tail. The big surprise was the pace of Adrian Deasy. Having blown an engine in testing the previous day, the Corkman, with the help of his fellow competitors, had built an engine in the paddock, borrowing many of the parts from others. The new engine was obviously a good one, as he all but matched the leading pair for pace as the trio eased away from the rest. Disaster was just ahead for Reynolds though, as he pulled off with engine problems with a few laps to run. Cullen was untroubled to the flag with a delighted Deasy in second and O’Rourke completing the podium in third after a charging recovery drive through the pack.
In race two, Cullen led away but O’Rourke made a good start this time and tucked in behind the Murray Motorsport machine. For a number of laps it looked as if Cullen was going to have a scrap on his hands but a few sideways moments dropped O’Rourke back and he subsequently retired at half distance with electrical problems. This left Deasy in second ahead of a raging battle between class organiser Andy D’Alton and returnee Dave Griffin. As Cullen took the flag for win number two, Deasy was equally happy with his double podium with D’Alton completing the top three, just ahead of a train of battling cars comprising Griffin, Des Bruton, Des Meehan and Kevin McGrath.
Michael Cullen: “Delighted with the weekend. I got two good starts and Dave, Vinny, Adrian and crew were caught up in a dice, which allowed me to make a break in both races. They won’t let me do that too often so I’m delighted to get these points on the table”
Images from iccr.ie