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Double Win for Cullen in Coffee 2 Go ST Series

Michael Cullen was on top form as the Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST championship returned to Mondello Park for the second ICCR meeting of the year. Having missed the opening rounds, he was keen to take advantage of the absence of double winner last time out, and series leader, Darragh McMullen.  Cullen’s immaculate Beacon Healthcheck liveried, LOH Motorsport car took pole position, comfortably ahead of the rest. He was joined on the front row of the grid by recent Lotus Cortina Goodwood winner David Dickenson, the Wicklow man happy with his performance as he had never driven a front wheel drive car at the circuit before.  A vastly improved Chris Jones was third with Max Turley, Roy White and Trevor Farrar next up. Wayne Laverick was seventh, from a disappointed Kian O’Brien, who ran right at the front at the last meeting, then Formula Vee convert Sylvie Bartlett, Declan McDonnell and Chris Grimes Snr.

Cullen, predictably, made a strong start with Jones immediately pressurising Dickenson for second. A great start from Farrar also saw him up to fourth from Turley and White. Turley, with White on his bumper began to crowd Farrar, but a few lunges into Southside from his team mate meant he had to keen one eye on the mirrors. Bartlett, getting used to front wheel drive began to set some really fast lap times, eclipsing everyone bar Cullen on lap four!  Just ahead, O’Brien displaced Laverick at Turn Three. On lap five, Turley, with a good run through Campion Corner, slipped by the Farrar car before inexplicably slowing on the run to the Esses, allowing Trevor to ease by again.  White was immediately on the attack, another lunge at the final corner almost getting the job done. With O’Brien closing this battle down, Farrar  slowed slightly on the main straight before going wide at Campion, with the opportunistic O’Brien almost following the Murray Motorsport pair through! Up ahead, Dickenson was getting used to the ST and had opened a gap to Jones. In his mirrors, he had a great view of White finally managing to make his move stick, relieving Turley of fourth. O’Brien was soon past Turley too with the charging Bartlett having closed them both down before finding his way past the ailing Turley. At the chequered flag, it was Cullen, who won as he pleased, from Dickenson and the impressive Jones. Roy White wasn’t far away in fourth from O’Brien, after a charging drive, with Bartlett taking sixth from Farrar.

Chris Jones showed strong form, taking an impressive podium finish in Race One.

As ever, the top six finishers were reversed to make up the starting grid for Race Two, which meant that Sylvie Bartlett would start on pole position on his first day racing an ST. Cian O’Brien shared the front row, with White and Jones the occupants of row two, just ahead of the two immaculate LOH Motorsport machines of Cullen and Dickenson.  Speculation that Bartlett might struggle with the art of launching a front wheel drive car off the line proved unfounded as Bartlett nailed a perfect start to lead the pack down into Turn One. Carrying the See It Live live stream onboard camera, Cullen made a great start and was incredibly late on the brakes down the outside into Turn One, emerging in third, right on O’Brien’s tail as the pack streamed through Campion Corner.  As they reached Southside for the first time, O’Brien took a look down the outside of Bartlett and, like a flash, Cullen was up his inside to grab second. O’Brien reacted perfectly though, cutting across the back of the Beacon car to execute a perfect switchback, the pair crossing the line door to door with Cullen on the outside. Once again, Cullen was impossibly late on the brakes as he tried to get down the outside into Turn One. He managed to sit around the outside and O’Brien sensibly chose to cede the place at Campion. White was right with them, from Farrar Jones, Dickenson, Laverick and Turley. For a number of laps, the hugely experienced Cullen gave Bartlett an unmerciful workover, trying to get by at every turn. Bartlett though, remained unruffled and looked like a seasoned ST racer as he led confidently. Eventually Cullen managed to get up with inside as they came onto the main straight, making the move stick into Turn One.

ST newbie Sylvie Bartlett starred in race two, holding off Cullen for the lead for a number of laps and finishing a strong second.
Kian O’Brien left Mondello on the Sunday evening as championship leader.
Trevor Farrar was in the mix until mechanical problems dropped him back
Max Turley had a tough weekend. Expect him to be back at the sharp end when the class returns to Mondello in July.

All of this means that Kian O’Brien takes over at the top of the table as championship leader. Mathematically, Cullen and McMullan would be ahead on dropped scores, but both have dropped two rounds already, so now need to score at every championship round in order to be in the running at the end of the season. An impressive transition from the stages to the circuits sees Roy White second in the standings, whilst Chris Jones comes up to fifth, behind Cullen and McMullen. The full results book for all ST sessions over the weekend is available HERE.

Rounds 5 and 6 of the Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST Championship are on the International Circuit at Mondello Park on July 8/9, before the class goes across the Irish sea for the first time for rounds 9 and 10 in Anglesey on August 5/6.

Images from Marc Quinlivan Photography

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