Once again there was a strong entry for the Siltex Safety Zetec class as the series returned to the Mondello National Layout for rounds 7 & 8 in July. The two Murray Motorsport cars also joined in the fun with Eoin and Niall Murray entering to add a bit of spice. Former Supercar Champion Johnny Whelan was on form again and it was he who claimed the all important pole position, from series leader Michael Barrable, with Alan Dawson and Phil Lawless taking up row two. The third row comprised Eoin Murray and Andy Kavanagh, whilst fastest of the Rookie contenders was James Byrne in twelveth. To put into context the competitiveness of the class, Mick Kehoe had qualified within .999 of pole- and was classified seventeenth! (Read his race blog HERE)
When the lights changed Whelan made a good start and Barrable matched him inch for inch. For the second meeting in a row they made contact before they reached turn one but it was door to door and no damage was done. There was drama on the opening lap as Kelsey Kirby lost the rear end of her car at Turn Three and rotated, with Steven Cullinane having nowhere to go, and Chloe Kellett, also unsighted, piling in too. Unsurprisingly, the red flags came out and the race was stopped.When the circuit was cleared, they had another warm up lap and were away again. This time Barrable made a better start and chopped across the bows of Whelan for the lead. Niall Murray, from a lowly grid position made a great dive around the outside of Turn One to somehow emerge fifth! He wasn’t there for long though as his brother Eoin displaced him with a dive into Southside Corner. Whelan shadowed the leader for a few laps before making a spectacular lunge up the inside into Southside. Contact was made and as Barrable slowed, Alan Dawson snatched second. To add insult to injury, Phil Lawless charged by Barrable into Maxus Corner. Clearly suffering with a damaged from shock, Barrrable was powerless to fight off Eoin Murray at turn three with the rest queuing up behind to get past.
Up front, Dawson closed up on Whelan and the pair enjoyed a fine scrap, with Dawson grabbing the lead at the final corner. They ran door to door the length of the straight before Dawson made it stick into Maxus. The pair scrapped for a few laps and when Dawson defended into the last corner on the last lap, Whelan stayed high and wide and with a perfectly timed move, got the run on the exit. Dawson gave him racing room and it was a drag race to the line, with Whelan taking it, just. The officials adjudged Whelan’s driving earlier in the race to be “improper” though and excluded him, giving the win to Dawson, from Lawless and Eoin Murray, with Barrable limping home in sixth.
The reversed grid for the second race had Collie Barrable on pole position with Andy Kavanagh on the outside of the front row. Eoin Murray and Lawless were on row two,with Dawson and Whelan, who had appealed the earlier decision, on row three. Collie Barrable got the jump with Kavanagh slotting in behind, whilst Eoin Murray sent Lawless spinning onto the infield, just avoidiing spinning into the pack. Kavanagh immediately retook the lead and Eoin Murray further demoted Collie Barrable with a dive into the Esses as they completed the lap.
Murray immediately closed in on Andy Kavanagh whilst behind, Niall Murray mugged Whelan with a dive into Southsde. Michael Barrable looked to take advantage and as the trio emerged onto the main straight, Barrable was welded to Murray’s rear bumper with Whelan alongside on the outiside. Whelan sat around the outside at Maxus as Barrable eased by but they tangled again at Turn Two with Barrable being launched off towards the escape road. After many attempts, Murray got up the inside of Kavanagh on the exit of Southside and as Kavanagh fought back, Collie Barrable got alongside and edged him out on the exit of Maxus. Eoin Murray it was then, who took the chequered flag, with Collie Barrable second and Kavanagh third with Dawson fourth. The officials weren’t finished though, and Murray received a ten second penalty for this opening lap move on Lawless and the stewards excluding Whelan for his contact with Barrable at turn two, handing Collie Barrable the top spot.
At the time of writing there are some pending appeals and hearings so the results, and championship standings remain provisional.
The Siltex Safety Fiesta Zetec Championship returns to Mondello Park this weekend for Rounds 9 &10, timetable below.
Images from Marc Quinlivan.