Mondello poised for record breaking Rallycross Entry
Spectators for the opening round of the PartsforCars.ie Irish Rallycross Championship will witness history this weekend with the largest domestic grid of Supercars ever assembled at Mondello Park. At the time of writing, twelve supercars will take to the track in the flagship class of the PartsforCars.ie Irish Rallycross Championship, headlined by both the current Irish Rallycross Champion and the reigning British Rallycross Champion.
Current Irish Rallycross Champion, Derek Tohill will start his campaign to retain his Irish title in his PartsforCars.ie liveried OMSE-built Fiesta. Joining him will be Patrick O’Donovan, the current and the youngest ever British Rallycross Champion, who will race his Proton Iriz RX following a successful shakedown test at Pembrey last week. A further pair of OMSE built Fiestas, run by Murray Motorsport will feature both Michael Leonard and John McCloskey. Leonard contested a single event in the 2022 IRX Championship, delivering an impressive performance, finishing third in the Supercar final and second in the Superfinal. McCloskey, a previous front runner in rallycross was eyeing a return to rallycross for some time and jumped at the opportunity to join Murray Motorsport’s two car team. Another returnee is New York-based Gary Donoghue who will campaign in another OMSE-built Fiesta previously run in Euro RX by Andreas Eriksson and will commute to race in the Irish championship this year. Regular 2022 drivers Tommy Graham (a multiple Rallycross Champion), Declan Kelly and Thomas O’Rafferty will compete in yet more Fiesta Supercars with them being joined by a trio of Subarus headed by Daragh Morris who finished 2nd in the 2022 Supercar Class in his home built Subaru Impreza STi RX.
Not to be outdone by the more powerful Supercars, the provisional entry list for the Modified class features no less than 16 entries. 2022 Class 3A Champion, Peter McGarry, returns to defend his title in his fantasticlly liveried 3.0 litre rear wheel drive Volvo C30 (above). 2022 returnees Lloyd Spendlove in his Lotus Exige, George Tohill in his PartsforCars.ie 3.2 litre BMW Compact, the hugely experienced Corsa mounted Coyne brothers Willie (below) and Michael, and Thomas McManus in his spectacularily driven MR2 turbo will once again do battle in this very competitive class. Demonstrating that it’s not just the Supercar entry which has had an influx of new cars, the Red Bull liveried 420hp Audi A1 of Anthony Kane is bound to catch the eye. Next up is Derek Tohill in his FIA Touring Car spec Ford Fiesta and he is joined by yet another UK Champion in the form of Jason Bleasdale in his Vauxhall VX220. Bleasdale won the Modified final at Mondello in January and enjoyed himself so much that this time he brings with him his brother Darren Bleasdale in another Vauxhall!
A reinvigorated buggy class will see competitors take part in the renamed Super Buggy class with the 1000cc class headed by returning champion Padraig Leeson. Seasoned pro Padraic McHale will join him in his Yacar buggy with Paul Nolan (Yacar) and Dermot McCullagh (Casmat) completing the entry. Returning 750cc Champion Sé Óg Martin takes to the track to try to retain his 2022 title but will be pushed all the way by Aidan Devlin (Semog), Darach Duffin (Casmat), Pa Bellew (Semog) and Chris Cullen. The fiercely competitive and lightning quick laps times make for exhilarating racing and will add to a action packed weekend of track action.
With Anthony Kane moving up to the Modified Championship, all eyes are now on Nicole Drought in her Renault Clio 172 (above). Having finished second behind Kane in 2022, she won the Open Clubman Final last time out back in January and will have high hopes in her 2023 campaign. Drought will be pushed hard by Colin Dowling in his extremely quick Citroen Saxo VTS. A former competitor in production class in rallycross, Dowling is new to Open Clubman and has high hopes of competing up the front. New to rallycross and Open Clubman is Dale Weston who takes to the track in his Mini Cooper S. Tik Tok famous Michael Connell will also compete in a Mini and will hope to add to his 4 million video views on the ever growing platform. Declan Nolan, one time regular rallycross driver, resident Safety Car driver at Mondello Park and stunt driver to the stars will make his return to rallycross in the Peugeot 106 that started Derek Tohill’s successful rallycross career.
Junior Rallycross will see 2022 runner up Toby Maguire return this year. Maguire took part in what could be described as one of the races of the year back in January finishing just 0.158 seconds behind Champion Joshua Power back in January (above). Ailish Sexton, daughter of racing and rallycross driver Brian, will make her rallycross debut in the new Junior MINI rallycross car. It is hoped that this new car will see new competitors take to the grid later in the 2023 season.
Competitors and spectators will be treated to a new track layout for the Saturday Championship round with cars now continuing past the traditional righthander at the ‘hole in the hedge’ and will continue down to the incredibly difficult double apex corner at Turn 3 before coming back to either turn left onto to Rallycross 2 or straight on for the Joker Lap.
Whether a four wheel fanatic or indeed families looking for a fun filled day out, all visitors must book tickets in advance at https://mondellopark-tickets.mondellopark.ie/ticketbooth/shows/1173636209. All tickets offer free access to the racing paddock and the grandstand. Admission both days from 10:00 until 18:00. Under 16 accompanied by an adult free.