With the dawn of the ICCR in Ireland, the Irish Strykers are also going through something of a renaissance.
The Lotus 7 inspired kit car machines have been racing for over 20 years at Mondello Park, and still remain hugely popular. The classic front engine, rear wheel drive layout, allied to the fact that the cars have received a raft of upgrades over the last decade, means the cars are quick, spectacular and best of all, fun to drive.
These days, the original 1600 Ford CVH engine has long since been replaced by a far more powerful 160bhp Zetec unit and, along with a limited slip differential and sticky Yokohama tyres, mean the cars can lap Mondello some five seconds faster than they originally did!
In 2020, the bar was raised once again though. Having guested in the class, and scored a win, in Niall McFadden’s car towards the end of 2019, the hugely experienced Michael Cullen registered for a full season in 2020. Cullen’s Murray Motorsport team rebuilt his newly acquired car and there were plenty of stopwatches on the pit-wall when the immaculate blue machine headed out the pit-lane for its first test session. True to form, the times were impressive, and it was immediately clear that the long standing lap record for the Mondello National Circuit was likely to be broken before the season was out.
Having had a good rookie year in the class though, Dave Reynolds had upgraded to Greg Kelly’s championship winning machine and he also showed a vast improvement in pace. He also looked like he could challenge for title honours. With Cullen failing to show, Reynolds grabbed the opportunity with both hands and took a double win at the opening round. Cullen won race one next time out, but fell victim to mechanical issues in race two, with Reynolds grabbing the win and the all important maximum points score, to increase his series lead. Even four wins on the trot was not enough for Cullen to take his first Stryker title away from a delighted Reynolds. The duo had smashed the lap record on numerous occasions during the season with Cullen finally leaving it at 60.942; not far off the magic minute!
Both are back for 2021, and neither will be easily beaten. They may not have it all their own way though as the fastest starter in the class, Vinny O’Rourke, has had his car completely rebuilt over the winter and is confident of closing the gap to the frontrunners. Niall McFadden returns to the series too, having shown flashes of real pace in 2019 and a little birdie tells us that this time he has a brand new car for his championship assault. Former class frontrunner Dave Griffin also makes a return after a two year hiatus and certainly won’t be there just to make up the numbers. Others to watch include former rally co-driver Adrian Deasy, longtime single seater spanner-man Stephen Kelly as well as Dominic Ryan and Des Meehan, both of whom impressed last season. Before you pick one of the above though, there have been whispers of class stalwarts Des Bruton and Andy D’Alton returning too.
We certainly won’t pick a favourite from that list but one thing is for sure, it’s going to be a great season for the Irish Strykers when the ICCR kicks off on June 12/13 at Mondello Park