It’s a big weekend at Kirkistown, and it starts today! The Leinster Trophy has returned to the North and will be presented to the winner of the second BOSS Ireland race on Saturday afternoon at the high speed ex airfield venue.
There has never, certainly in my memory, been an easy win for the Leinster Trophy, but this time round, even Paddy Power would struggle to pick a favourite. The trophy was first run in Skerries in 1932, and was presented to Fay Taylour, who took the win on handicap in her unusual front wheel drive Adler Coupe. The race, one of the most coveted in Irish Motor Racing circles has had various homes since those early days, including Tallaght, Wicklow, Bishopscourt, Dunboyne and, of course, Mondello Park, moving there when the circuit opened first in the late ’60s. The list of winners is long and impressive, and has been chartered superbly by Irish motorsport historian Brian Manning (you can read one of his many excellent pieces HERE), but probably the greatest honour for most club racers these days, is the chance on have their name engraved on “the one that Senna won”, the Brazilian of course having famously trounced the opposition back in 1982 when the FF2000 Euroseries cars raced for the trophy.
In recent times, with the lack of European races at Mondello, the trophy has been awarded to domestic classes, with FF1600, Vee and Sheane drivers getting a chance to win the big one. For the last number of years though, and happily again this year, the Formula BOSS Ireland class have been given the honour- so it is one of those competitors that will hold the trophy aloft at Kirkistown tomorrow.
Paul O’Connell is the current holder (metaphorically of course!) of the famous trophy and he is back to try and take the title again. Having sold his beautiful World Series Dallara last year, and taken the trophy win in his F3 car, you would expect him to stay with that this time around. Think again guys. Paul gives everything when he competes and was always keen to show that one of the “big” cars could win in BOSS, back when the general thinking was that an F3 car was the way to go. Whilst proving this, by the way, he won the BOSS Championship in the World Series car! Anyway, I digress. The Limerick man has purchased a GP2 car, probably the perfect tool for the job this weekend. I watched him test it at Mondello a few months back and it was a joy to watch. The car looked like a handful, but at the same time, Paul looked like he was enjoying it! It has given a few teething problems since, and didn’t appear out of the garage at the last ICCR meeting at Mondello Park. No doubt the Stone Motorsport squad have been flat out since though, so expect the car to be in tip top condition!
Man of the moment in the class, though, is Sylvie Mullins. The former hillclimb ace has visibly reworked his F1 Judd powered Gould in recent times- to great effect. The wings have changed, the car now runs larger front wheels and not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, it goes better too. The mechanical niggles have been ironed out and Sylvie took two string wins from pole last time out. The car is extremely fast in a straight line and should be great to watch as it stretches its legs on Kirkistown’s high speed straights.
Gerard O’Connell was the lucky purchaser of Paul’s World Series and lost no time getting to grips with the big machine, romping to two wins at the opening ICCR round at Mondello in June. Crucially, he has a LOT more experience at Kirkistown than the two above, which should place him in good stead come Saturday afternoon.
Jonathan Fildes has finally joined the grid this year, which means entertainment, and plenty of it. Jonathan comes from a great motorsport family, his grandfather Jack and father Ken, both being hugely successful drivers. In fact, Ken, along with Dan Daly, was responsible for the introduction of Formula Libre to Mondello- the class which has morphed into BOSS Ireland today. With minimal testing mileage, Jonathan was all arms and elbows last time out at Mondello, leaving spectator pleasing black marks on track as he stamped on the Lola’s loud pedal. Jonathan and team have been hard at work since though and with w new diff fitted, they expect the car to be more settled this weekend. That said, JF’s style is definitely more Villeneuve than Prost, so keep an eye on the Martini style liveried car!
It’s not all about the single seaters though, as some extremely fast sportscars also compete in BOSS Ireland- and a number of them are piloted by Kirkistown experts! Tony Greenan has plenty of experience, and as you will see from the below clip, taken on a trackday, plenty of speed too- could he cause a major upset and be the first non single seater win the Leinster Trophy for many many years?
Then of course, we come to Eamon Matheson. Eamon is a big favourite with the crowds for a number of reasons. Firstly, he is a real character- he has competed for many years, previously in a twin bike engined Clio and a self built sportscar. Nowadays he has a Jade chassis, painted in his trademark green, with a highly developed turbocharged Honda motor. The car has what can only be described as ridiculous straightline speed- just ask any of the BOSS frontrunners! Also, he is the master of the standing start. It used to be standing joke in the class that Eamon would probably lead into turn one, regardless of where he qualified! In recent times, he has dialled oout some of the understeer that slowed him a touch at Mondello and he has also made the car far more reliable than it had been before. Will he win the Leinster Trophy? Maybe. Will he lead the Leinster Trophy race? Probably!
Its only a few years ago that a late generation F3 car was pretty much unbeatable in the class and a number of these cars are also on the entry list. Aaron Gaughran has made quite a name for himself at Mondello Park this year, taking to his ex Cian Carey Dallara like the proverbial duck to water. He may be short on brake horsepower come Saturday, but he certainly won’t be short on commitment. At the very least, he will want to be first of the F3 cars across the line. That may not be easy though, as Kirkistown expert Noel Robinson has sourced a slightly older Dallara for the event. He has been an FF1600 frontrunner for many years and has also a bit of previous wings and slicks experience too so will surely be aiming high. Former gearbox karter and BOSS Ireland Champion Fergus Faherty is another F3 man worth keeping an eye on. he has made great progress with the pace of his car in recent times too.
Others to watch are “Turbo Tom” Gaughan, who, as his nickname suggests, has plenty of power in his Radical. Should his car be more suited to the flat out straights of Kirkistown than the turns and twists of Mondello, he could well be a factor! Gary Graham and Roland Doherty also appear in a Formula Renault and Dallara F3 respectively and will be looking to pick up the pieces, should there, heaven forbid, be any trouble up front! Michael Connelly is joined by Niall Fitzsimmons and Kirkistown experts Jim Larkham and Ivor Greenwood in the Radical camp. Others to watch are Michael Roche- always entertaining and Daniel Faherty, who is still gaining experience with his new car. Both are F3 mounted!
The very best of luck to all competitors- and may the best man win!