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Patch Tyre Equipment Junior MINIs Impress at Kirkistown

The Patch tyre Equipment Junior MINI Challenge  made its first foray outside Mondello Park recently, as the  120 bhp MINIs visited the high speed Kirkistown circuit on the Ards peninsula in Northern Ireland.

Championship leader Bobby Joe McFall was confident of following up on his two strong wins at Mondello Park last month but the Championship leader was out of luck as his transponder failed to register in qualifying, meaning his Mondello Park scholarship car would start both races from the back of the grid. Kyle Irvine, on his class debut, it was who took the all important pole position, with Logan Hoey alongside him on the front row, just a fraction slower. Keeping up her recent good form, Holly Dunnion’s Energia car was third from another debutant, Jack Fildes. Jack is now the fourth generation of the famous Fildes family to take to the racetracks, and his qualifying performance first time out would suggest that he will uphold family tradition as a top drawer racer. The improving D’Arcy Kilfeather was fifth, less than a second off pole in her O’Brien Motorsport tended car, with Adam McNamara, who had been very fast in wet testing, next up, saying he was struggling in dry conditions for some reason.

Unfortunately, having qualified so well, Irvine didn’t make it to the grid, leaving Hoey all alone on the front ow. He didn’t wast the opportunity either. When the lights went out for race one, it was Hoey who nailed it, balancing revs and  grip to perfection to rocket away into the lead. In his wake, Fildes bogged down, dropping to the back whilst McFall’s charge forward started almost immediately. As the pack came down the back straight, Holly Dunnion was running second and had closed the initial gap to Hoey. Right on her bumper though was McFall, keen to get to the front before the leaders made a break. As they approached the Hairpin he made his move, slicing down the inside of the Energia car to grab second.  Shortly after this, a monster run through the chicane saw him get a run at the leader, not even needing a tow to ease alongside the Dundalk driver for the lead. As this happened though, D’Arcy Kilfeather’s car ground to a halt on the back straight. With the help of the marshals, she managed to push the car off the circuit, but the officials had aleady scrambled the safety car, which backed the pack up once again. Once they got going again, McFall began to ease away whilst Fildes, having displaced McNamara, was right on Holly’s bumper. He managed to tow his way by, but Holly came back at him, the pair rounding the flat out Debtors corner door to door.

At the flag, it was McFall by a significant margin, making it three in a row after his Mondello double, from Logan Hoey, with Holly crossing the line in third, fractionally ahead of Fildes, after a great scrap on his race debut. McNamara was next up, saying his was finally getting to grips with the circuit.

Frantic work in the paddock between races meant both Kyle Irvine and D’Arcy Kilfeather would make the grid for race two. Irvine and Holly Dunnion made up the front row, with Fildes and McNamara on row two ahead of Kilfeather and McFall, who was confident he could get to the front for the double once again. Once again, the battles raged as soon as the race started, with D’Arcy Kilfeather, who continues to improve each time out, now joining the Dunnion/Fildes battle early on.

The young drivers really ipressed as they constantly rounded Debtors side by side but unfortunately it was all to go wrong for young Fildes. Having put a wheel off at Debtors the car got slightly out of shape and ended up rolling, bringing out an immediate red flag. Thankfully, all the safety equipment did its job and Jack was absoluutely fine.  Once the race restarted, it was McFall again, using his pace to ease away for another impressive win. the other podium places were far from decided though and a battle raged all the way to the flag. Irvine it was who claimed second, but only just, as Dunnion got a run on the way to the flag and was only a tenth behind at the line. Logan Hoey was riight with them too, after a battle that had impressed all the onlookers on the class’ first visit to the circuit.


Images from Cregor Elliott

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