Once again the Siltex Safety backed Fiesta Zetec Fiesta class provided the biggest grid of the weekend as the ICCR returned to Mondello Park for rounds 3 & 4 last weekend.
As ever, the times were tight in qualifying, with just under a second covering the first 16 cars! It was a new name at the head of the timesheets though, as Dave Maguire Jnr stopped the clocks at 1:11.391 in his JMC/LOH Motorsport car. Next up was Alan Dawson, from 2022 Rookie Champion James Byrne and 2021 Champion Michael Barrable. Row three comprised Keith Dawson and Andy Kavanagh, followed by Rod McGovern, in the ex Johnny Whelan car, and impressive novice Jason O’Connell, who again topped the Rookies. Josh Brown and Keith Gallagher were second and third Rookie Cup qualifiers, whilst others of note included a delighted Kelsey Kirby in 12th, having traced an electrical problem after testing, with round one pacesetter Derek Graham languishing in an unacustomed eleventh, prompting the See It Live TV crew to install a live onboard camera in his Vehicle Screens car, in anticipation of a charge towards the front!
When the lights went out, experience showed, as Dawson led away. When Keith Gallagher speared into the bank exiting Campion Corner, the red flags flew. At the same time, Kelsey Kirby spun into the gravel at Turn Three. During the subsequent clear up, Kirby, having not actually caused the stoppage, was happily allowed to rejoin the grid.
When the lights finally turned to green, Maguire nailed it and, despite Dawson’s best efforts, it was he who led down into Turn One ahead of the pack, from Dawson and Michael Barrable. In their wake, Ian Fishbourne hooked up Jason O’Connell at the Esses and when they separated, the Fish Graphics car appeared to spear left, collecting the blameless Derek Graham and despatching him into the tyre wall on the exit. This necessitated another safety car and when the rescue team discovered that Graham’s car had a broken rack and couldn’t be towed, the red flags flew once again.
At the restart, Maguire once again led away, with Dawson in close attendance, from Barrable, Byrne and Keith Dawson. There was action again though as Andy Kavanagh was turned around at turn three and left stranded in the middle of the track, with the rear hatch pointing skywards. Thankfully, nobody collected him and as soon as they had all got by, he grabbed first and rejoined, a quick pitstop for his team to fasten the hatch meaning he stayed on the lead lap. The timer had run out though and the race ended under safety car with a delighted Maguire taking his first win in the class, from Alan Dawson and Michael Barrable. Keith Dawson was fourth from James Byrne, Rod McGovern, Ian Fishbourne and Mick Kehoe, with Kelsey Kirby and Eduardo Gonzaga rounding out the top ten. Rookie Cup winner was Josh Brown, in his first race, from Andrew McCormack and Lorcan McGivney .
As ever, the top six finishers in the opening race were reversed to form the grid for race two, which meant the hugely experienced Rod McGovern sat on pole position, with James Byrne alongside, from Keith Dawson and Michael Barrable. Row three was Alan Dawson and Maguire, with Ian Fishbourne and the much improved Mick Kehoe on row four. Also much improved was a delighted Kelsey Kirby, starting on the fifth row, thanks to a P9 finish in the opener, with Eduardo Gonzaga alongside her. McGovern duly led away but a late dive from Byrne into Turn One as they started the second lap was enough to displace him. Unfortunately for Rod, he was driven wide and lost a number of places, with Barrable, in the right place at the right time as ever, pouncing on Byrne and easing ahead as they went through Campion Corner.
As Byrne came under attack from both Dawson cars, Barrable got the head down, setting fastest lap as he eased away out front. Behind all this, race one winner Maguire was having a tough time, the live onboard TV camera giving an excellent view of Fishbourne’s defensive techniques. McGovern was just head of this pair in fifth, whilst Kehoe had a grandstand view of it in eighth. Just as it looked like Barrable was going to keep pulling away, Byrne got the head down, eclipsing Barrable’s previous mark as he closed the gap, bringing Alan and Keith Dawson with him. Maguire, once by Fishbourne, pulled away and began to haul in McGovern for fifth. Behind this was a train comprising Fishbourne, Gonzaga, Kehoe, Richie Byrne and Kelsey Kirby. Just behind this group, Garrett Burke led a fantastic scrap with Mark O’Donoghue, Andy Kavanagh (all the way from the back of the grid), Emma Dempsey, Kaleb Shanley and Chole McLaughlin. Just when it looked like we were going to get a four way scrap for the lead, Barrable must have been relieved to see Alan Dawson attacking Byrne for second. This meant Byrne, showing impressive racecraft, had to go defensive allowing the distinctive blue and yellow MB Motors car away once again. having finally got by Fishbourne, Maguire was finding McGovern’s robust defences hard to penetrate, the bright side being that livestream viewers got a great view of it all once again from his onboard! Finally Maguire got by, down the inside into the second part of Turn Three, but immediately ran wide into the Esses and McGovern barged by again, with Fishbourne and Gonzaga right there too!
When newcomer Jordan Flanagan’s car stopped on the main straight, it looked like we might get another Safety Car but the clock was down to zero and so it was chequered flag time. Barrable it was who took this win after a beautifully controlled drive, from the impressive Byrne, Alan and then Keith Dawson, McGovern, just two tenths ahead of Maguire, Fishbourne, Gonzaga, Kehoe and Kavanagh, after an impressive charge from the back.
A delighted Andrew McCormack took his maiden Rookie Cup win, from Jason O’Connell, who like Kavanagh had started at the back, and Lorcan McGivney.
All this means that Alan Dawson still leads the title chase but Michael Barrable has closed the gap. James Byrne is right there in third place from Keith Dawson and Dave Maguire, whose win has seen him shoot up the standings. Championship positions, which remain provisional, are below.
It couldn’t be closer in the Rookie Cup
Full results of all sessions, including qualifying can be seen HERE.
The Siltex Safety Fiesta Zetecs return to Mondello Park for the third ICCR meeting of the year on July 8/9, where they will tackle the full International circuit for the first time in 2023.
Images from Marc Quinlivan Photography.