Formerly Formula Libre, Ireland’s open wheeler “Run What Ya Brung” series has taken on a new lease of life in recent times, with some extremely exciting machines gracing the hallowed tarmac of Mondello Park as a result.
The general thinking a few years back was that an older-gen Formula Renault was the thing to have around Mondello National, with Stephen Daly and Martin Daly and Barry Rabbitt all achieving success in the carbon tubbed, but inexpensive machines. They are still one of the best ways of getting around Mondello in a hurry- take minimal maintenance, and hold their value well. The appearance of a few relatively modern F3 cars on the island though, ended their reign.
Former Hillclimb champion Paul O’Connell then arrived with a World Series By Renault car, not far off a GP2 machine. Oh, it won’t work at Mondello, they cried. It’s too big. F3000 cars don’t work around here. Right so, said Paul- en route to the 2019 BOSS Ireland title. In 2020, he arrived with an F3 car, originally obtained to tackle a European Hillclimb series. Once he and his Stone Motorsport team realised the potential of the machine, the World Series was parked up, and ultimately sold. After a titanic scrap with double UK F3 Cup Champion Cian Carey, O’Connell then became the latest name on the Leinster Trophy.
If you had expected him to return this year in his F3 car, because we did, you were mistaken! Recent social media posts would suggest that the likeable Limerick man has been shopping once again. Sent out for a sliced pan, came home with a GP2 car- you know yourself!
As ever in Formula BOSS Ireland though, there are plenty of other contenders. Former series champion Fergus Faherty, also F3 mounted, will certainly be one to watch. Barry Rabbitt is always the giant killer and although the former double Leinster Trophy winner has said he won’t be competing regularly this year, we do expect him to make an appearance on occasion. As ever, he won’t be there to make up numbers. His latest generation Formula Renault shouldn’t have the legs of the modern F3 cars- but if there is a variation in weather, or in anything, there is no better man to take advantage and spring a surprise.
One of the most talked about drivers in the series is our very welcome NI visitor Eamon Matheson. Eamon has built and developed a number of machines over the years- and it seems his quest for speed is never ending. If you are looking for the fastest machine in a straightline, look no further than his lurid green missile. Whilst not as agile as the high tech F3 cars around the twisty stuff, once it reaches the straights, its speed is almost cartoon like, and it makes pretty much everything around it look pedestrian.
Tom Gaughran has gone the sportscar route for his BOSS Ireland campaign and, although his Radical looks pretty normal- it has a hidden secret in the form of a turbo. This well driven machine has the potential to cause the F3 cars plenty of trouble so keep an eye on it. Sylvie Mullins and Fergus Faherty are joined in the F3 brigade by newcomers Daniel Faherty and Aaron Gaughran, who have both been spotted testing their new machines recently!
Digital Motorsports boss Niall Maher tested an F3 car with Stone Motorsport lately and despite his complete lack of single seater experience, in real life anyhow- he went well enough for the team and driver to consider entering for this weekend’s opening rounds at Mondello. As a kid, he used to draw single seater cars on his schoolbooks- and this weekend he is racing one- that really is what it is all about!