Michael Cullen continued exactly where he left off as the Bill Griffin Motors Stryker series returned to Mondello Park for the second Irish Championship Circuit Racing (ICCR) race meeting of 2020. with record temperature highs and spectators allowed back to the venue for the first time in 2021, the Zetec powered sportscars put on a great show in both races.
Cullen, a multiple saloon car champion, borrowed a Stryker back in 2019 and having taken a win, bought a car and joined the series. He has been a regular winner in the class since and remains unbeaten in 2020, following a crushing display once again at the weekend.
Cullen’s immaculate Murray Motorsport tended machine topped the timesheets after qualifying, his best time around the Mondello Park International being 1.5 seconds faster than his closest competitor, 2020 champion Dave Reynolds. Returning to the class in 2021, Dave Griffin showed he had lost none of his speed by claiming third on the grid for the opening race, just ahead of Adrian Deasy and Andy D’Alton. Having qualified on the front row of the opening round last month, a suspension breakage meant Vincent O’Rourke would start right at the back, with plenty of work to do if he was to add to his championship tally over the course of the two races.
Predictably, Cullen made no mistakes to lead away and immediately began to open a gap to the chasing pack with Griffin attacking Reynolds and Deasy in his usual spectacular manner. Unfortuantely though, Griffin was out by the second lap, having broken his sump. This meant the competitors had to avoid some oil on track for the reaminder of the race. As Cullen eased clear, Deasy, who has shown vast improvement in 2020, relieved Reynolds of second and also began to open a gap to the chasing pack. At the end of 15 minutes of racing, Cullen crossed the line ten seconds ahead of Deasy with third place man Andy D’Alton a further 18 seconds back- an unusually spread out Stryker race. O’Rourke, as expected had charged through through the pack, crossing the line sixth, just behind class returnee Roger Welaratne and Kevin McGrath, who had enjoyed a great battle.
Race, at least for Michael Cullen’s point of view, was a carbon copy of the first. A perfect start meant he was never headed and he pulled away to take his fourth win of the year, this time over 20 seconds ahead of the rest when he crossed the line. Dave Reynolds, having dropped down the order in race one, was far stronger in this one, his fastest lap a mere tenth of a second off Cullen’s best en route to runner up spot. A delighted Kevin McGrath completed the podium, while O’Rourke charged to fourth from the back once again. Des Meehan was fifth from Pat Bergin and Colm Marnane.
Michael Cullen: “I’m delighted with the wins but I have been lucky that, again, the guys in 2nd, 3rd and 4th got involved in a huge dice that allowed me to make a break. It’s unbelievably hot, I’ve never experienced a day like it in Mondello. It was a super event, roll on the August ICCR race meeting.”
Images ICCR.ie/Michael Chester