Eddie Peterson has established himself as the man to beat in this year’s Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST Championship and the Murray Motorsport driver once again claimed the all important pole position for the first race, as the championship graced the International layout at Mondello Park for rounds five and six. Typically, Michael Cullen wasn’t far away, and the multiple saloon champion, who incidentally made his debut in a Ford Fiesta at Mondello Park back in 1984, was just two tenths shy of Peterson’s best effort. Max Turley, who has starred in the class this year, was third with former triple class champion Dave Maguire alongside. Row three comprised of Victor Cullen and the fastest of the debutants Phil Lawless, impressing in his ex Barry Barrable car.
The cars lined up for their opening race with drizzle falling and Peterson made the best getaway with Cullen tucking in behind. As they streamed out onto the International Loop for the first time, the rain became heavier and Turley snatched second from Cullen with a lunge down the inside at 7A. As the frontrunners became spaced out, a battle raged behind them between Grimes Jnr and the charging McBride, who was driving like a class veteran. A brave move round the outside at Bridgestone initially looked like it gave McBride the position, but Grimes fought back and the pair arrived at Lola corner doorhandle to doorhandle, with McBride making it stick on the exit. Lawless had a grandstand view of all this, whilst in his mirrors, a battle raged between, Gordon Kellett, Simon Deane and Christopher Grimes Snr, who had spun at the first corner. Meanwhile, back at the sharp end, Turley, with a sucession of fastest laps, had begun to close the gap to Peterson and within a few more laps, was on the bumper of the “Peterson’s- Cars Like New” machine. Peterson responded though and the pair eased away even more as the race progressed. Turley stayed in the wheeltracks of Peterson, but predictably, the series leader made no mistakes and left no gaps. The live stream then picked up a close battle as Lawless pulling off with suspension damage, leaving Kellett, Deane and Kian O’Brien in a hectic battle for 9th. At the same time, Victor Cullen and Trevor Farrar were battling hard and were hauled in by the impressive McBride, who managed to despatch them both inside two corners in the closing stages. At the flag then, it was Peterson, taking his fourth win of the year, with Turley right there in second. Cullen completed the podium in third, with Maguire fourth and a delighted McBride in fourth.
Victor Cullen has been steadily improving in the second Beacon Hospital car and with the top six, as ever, reversed for race two, it was he who found himself on pole position. A determined McBride joined him on the front row. Maguire and the elder Cullen shared row two, with Turley and Peterson making up the third row. McBride made a cracking start to lead the pack down into turn one on his debut weekend in the class, with Michael Cullen braking incredibly late to try and sit round the outside of Victor. In their wake, Turley had somehow taken to the grass on the infield and, unable to stop, harpooned the unfortunate Maguire as he rejoined. Not only did Victor rebuff his Dad’s challenge, he exited Bridgestone beautifully to get a run at McBride. He had a look down the inside into Lola, as McBride clipped the apex kerb, upsetting the car and spitting him wide, across the grass and into the gravel. Michael Cullen, as ever, didn’t wait for a written invitation and was alongside Victor, and crucially on the inside as they came onto the back straight. Peterson had also made progress and the trio were as one, when the safety car was despatched, to allow the recovery of Grimes Jnr’s car, which was parked at Turn One. At the restart Michael Cullen led away but Peterson was on his bumper immediately. Despite Peterson’s best efforts, Cullen refused to be rattled, and that’s how they finished, with a delighted Victor continuing to impress with his second podium of the year in third. After his first lap indiscretion, Turley charged back to fourth, taking fastest lap and setting a new class lap record in the process! McBride and Gordon Kellett completed the top six.
Images from Marc Quinlivan Photography