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ICCR Round 1 Race Report

Mondello Park – 12th & 13th June, 2021By Drew Furlong

For the best experience, click here to view the PDF Race Report.

Mondello Park once again saw the return of race-tuned engines as the best of Irish circuit racing competitors embarked on a new era of Motorsport in the Digital-Motorsports.com ICCR Race Weekend.

Having the future of circuit racing entrusted in its hands by Motorsport Ireland, Mondello Park served up 18 races across 11 Classes over a two-day event on 12/13 June 2021. With the pent-up energy from a near nine-month sabbatical due to the COVID-19 pandemic, excited competitors took to the track relieved that their exile from Mondello Park had been lifted. Long term stalwarts were joined by an influx of new and returning competitors in freshly sprayed and newly prepared cars.

Due to the continuing COVID restrictions, spectators were not allowed on site but those present witnessed some absolutely fantastic racing. With some spectacular machinery on display, from Single Seaters to a myriad of Sports and Saloon cars, let’s hope that the restrictions continue to lift, such that spectators can soon witness for themselves a revitalised sport over the coming months.

Cullen Does The Double • Bill Griffin Motors Stryker Championship

When the lights went out on the biggest grid for several years for the Bill Griffin Motors Stryker Championship it was Cullen who emerged from Turn 1 in the lead, a position he would hold until the Chequered flag. Reynolds slotted into second place with the hugely talented Deasy making a lightning start to go from fifth to third on the first lap. But with Cullen imperious out front, the attention was now fixed on the battle for second between Reynolds and Deasy. With Deasy late on the brakes into Southside corner to allow him to get alongside Reynolds on the Start Straight and the inevitable late breaking into Turn 1, Reynolds held firm and would not be passed. After his poor start, O’Rourke had passed Meehan and Griffin to now slot in behind Ryan. O’Rourke chose his moment carefully and getting side by side on the run down to T1, took fourth position to continue his impressive recovery. Meanwhile, with Reynolds unable to make any inroads into the Cullen lead, disaster struck as he retired his car at Turn 3. Deasy would inherit second, with a revitalised O’Rourke back to third position. With just two laps left to the Chequered flag, the first race winner of ICCR would be Cullen almost 15 seconds ahead of Deasy, with O’Rourke completing the podium. 

For the second race of the afternoon renown fast starter O’Rourke joined Cullen on the front row of the grid. Cullen led the race again at the start but O’Rourke piled on the pressure for the first 2 laps but a rare sideways moment allowed the chasing Reynolds and Deasy to catch him. In the melee, Deasy seized his chance, dived down the inside of Reynolds and moved to third. Deasy and O’Rourke battled constantly until O’Rourke sadly retired on Lap 7. In the group behind them, it was Dalton in his newly built car who was showing his experience. Starting an unfamiliar 11th on the grid, Dalton had moved to eighth after the opening laps and brilliant passing moves saw him move ahead of Meehan and Bruton. With O’Rourke retiring and then the unfortunate Reynolds again having a mechanical issue, Dalton was up to an unbelievable fourth position behind Griffin. With Griffin sitting in a comfortable third position and delighted with a possible podium, it all changed with a huge slide and lots of opposite lock and allowed Dalton to dive through and take third position. Undeterred Griffin set about regaining his position and a great battle ensued between the two drivers. Griffin attacked relentlessly, left and right with Dalton giving a masterclass in defensive driving. Not to be outdone, behind them in the battle for 5th were Bruton, Meehan and McGrath. With never less than a car length between them it demonstrated the best of competitive racing. In the end with the 15-minute duration completed, Cullen took his second win of the day, followed by a comfortable second place by Deasy and a hugely impressive drive by Dalton in third.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Single Seater Racing At Its Best • Selco.ie Formula Vee National Championship

With the front of the grid packed with a  wealth of talent, it was Reade ahead of poleman Polley after the run down to T1 of an almost capacity grid. Triple champion Cross showed his intentions taking 3rd from Murray on the opening lap. With the top 5 nose to tail for the opening laps, a pause as the Safety Car was scrambled to recover Carroll and James Sheppard in the gravel at Southside corner. On restart Reade jumped the pack pulling almost 5 car lengths at the Line. Lap 7, Cross with a great move round the outside of Polley at T1 and Polley finding himself boxed in saw  Byrne get by too.  With Polley  and Murray now battling for 4th, contact at T3 saw Polley retire with Murray retiring just a lap later. Cross made his move for the lead on Reade down the inside into Southside corner with Reade losing another position at the next corner as Byrne swept round the outside. Behind them a mistake by Kelly see him off  the circuit at Turn 3 but manages to keep the damage to just 2 places. This meant that Buckley had now moved up to 4th behind Byrne. As the lead train approached a backmarker in the Esses, contact was made with Byrne losing a nose cone and through no fault of his own Reade lost his 3rd place to Buckley in avoiding action. Next time round Byrne got out of shape through the Esses and despite Buckley trying to have a go, Byrne slammed the door shut. At the chequered flag of a wonderfully entertaining single seater race it was Cross taking the win, followed by Byrne and a great race by Buckley to take the final podium place.

Race 2 lined up with grid positions reversed on the front row with Reade on pole. However, a cracking start from Polley saw him take the lead and by the end of Lap 1 had a lead of over a second. The biggest mover on the opening lap was Owen Kelly who drove beautifully to move from 12th to 6th. With Polley untouchable on his own out front, all attention was on the battle for 2nd place. On lap 8 Byrne made what was probably the move of the day going round the side of both Reade and Cross at Southside as they battled. All that changed just 2 laps later as the second group arrived yet again at Southside. Contact with a backmarker, Ellis, cost Byrne dear as he dropped to 6th with Reade back to 2nd and a charging Jordan Kelly up to an unbelievable 4th from a starting position of 10th. Cross passed Reade on the main straight taking 2nd with Byrne suffering a mechanical issue as  he loses a place to Buckley and on the following lap to Owen Kelly.  At the end, Polley took the Chequered Flag after a truly dominant performance followed by Cross almost 5 seconds back and then Reade in a comfortable 3rd place. Jordan Kelly crossed the line in an impressive 4th with Murray rounding out the top 5.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Foley and Griffin in Epic Battle • Impact Ireland Metals Historic Racing Car Association Championship

Variety was the order of the day as the HRCA grid took to the track. On pole the Lotus 7 of Bill Griffin which was up against the mighty 4 litre V8 powered MGB GT of Bernard Foley.  The Lotus flew off the front of the grid leaving Foley fishtailing the MGB GT as it tried to put its power down. Collins 3rd on the grid in the Ford Escort MkII swept past the outside of Foley as well on the run down to T1. Meanwhile Thompson in his Zetec powered TMC Costin moved up to 4th from 7th on the grid. As the cars rounded T2 for the long run down to T3, Foley now with momentum powered past Collins to take the place back. Foley was side by side with Griffin in the Esses, but the light and nimble Lotus 7 pulled back a slight gap and made it into Southside first. Expecting Foley to power past on the main straight, Griffin made T1 ahead and managed to maintain his lead for a further two laps before the MGB GT grabbed the lead on the main straight. Meanwhile Thompson in the TMC Costin had gotten ahead of Collins and there was a large gap back from the lead four cars. Just two laps later the highly modified TMC Costin overtook Griffin into Southside whilst Colin Grant’s little Clubmans car overtook Kinirons in his Ford Escort RS2000.   With Collins in his MKII Escort just behind Griffin’s Lotus, he slices down the inside at Southside corner taking to the gravel and the grass to complete the move. Griffin tries to come back but the the higher-powered Escort powers away on the main straight. At the chequered flag it was Foley, from Thompson and then Collins taking the final place on the podium. As the scratch result would be handicapped the final result table is shown below.

Race 2 saw the positions reversed on the front row with Foley on pole. The start was the same as the previous race as the Lotus drove away from the front of the grid. Behind the two leaders , Schnittger from 6th in the giant killing MG Midget makes it up to 3rd at T1 and holds off Brandon in the Lotus 47 who tries to get round the outside. Collins in his more powerful MKII Escort powers past Brandon and Schnittger on the main straight. Upfront Foley was still in pursuit of Griffin, but Griffin is so quick through the second part of the Esses he keeps pulling a gap to maintain his lead against the more powerful car on the main straight. The pressure from Foley is relentless and Griffin drops to 2nd. Thompson powers straight past Brandon on the main straight to move to 4th. Then tragically Collins slows on the main straight with his Escort misfiring. Passed by Thompson, now up to 3rd and quickly followed by Brandon. From there the positions hold firm to the Chequered flag, Foley takes his second win of the day on the road, followed by Griffin in his Lotus 7 with the final podium position being taken by Thompson.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Debut Win for Sheane • Avon Tyres Formula Sheane Championship

Great things were expected from the more powerful but less grippy Formula Sheane cars. Young upcoming former Formula Vee competitor, Philip Sheane was on the outside of the front row of the grid. It was the more experienced Kearney who emerged in the lead, despite Sheane taking his car round the outside line at T1. However, Kearney not to be pressured into a mistake consistently lapping between 0.2 and 0.3 seconds per lap quicker than Sheane, the gap between them growing bigger lap after lap. Meanwhile McLoughlin in 3rd was chasing hard but never close enough to have a go at snatching 2nd from Sheane. Upfront, Kearney super smooth through the Esses, the gap visually opening up lap after lap. His lead now up to 2.3 seconds. McLoughlin looming large in Sheane’s mirrors, the battle between these two increasing that gap to Kearney to 4.5 seconds. They battled with eventually Sheane retiring to the pits with a mechanical issue. Now with a clear road ahead of him, McLoughlin set about the task in hand and put in some lightning quick laps. The first a full 1.2 seconds quicker than the leader, Kearney. The next was 1 second quicker and suddenly a puff of smoke from Kearney’s car had us wondering if he had a problem. With his pit crew signalling the danger of the fast-approaching McLoughlin, Kearney responds with his fastest lap of the race 59.303. But McLoughlin goes even quicker and posts a 59.156 , his fastest lap of the race. Last lap, then disaster for Kearney as he runs wide at T1 and comes almost to a stop. With a broken front suspension, he carries on but is past first by McLoughlin and then by Keenan. A well-deserved win for McLoughlin as he takes the chequered flag, followed by Keenan, with Kearney nursing his battle-worn car home in 3rd.

With an identical grid for Race 2, Sheane made the better start again round the outside at T1 to head the field. McLoughlin got ahead of poleman Kearney too and the scene was set for another 15minutes of hard single seater racing. A sideways moment from McLoughlin on the main straight as the powerful Formula Sheane car slips traction, Kearney pounces but McLoughlin, sensing danger slams the door shut.  Kearney pushed hard with a good run out of T3 to get alongside McLoughlin in the Esses, tries down the outside at Southside, switches back on the main straight, gets side by side again as the cars head to T1. But McLoughlin hard on the brakes and maintains 2nd. Meanwhile Sheane is driving beautiful and controlled out front and has a 3 second lead. Next lap, McLoughlin and Kearney make contact on the exit of T1 after another hard fight for position but both continue. With 5 minutes to go, Kearney gets the job done with a classic Mondello move with the switch from the outside at Southside, down the inside to T1. A cracking move by Kearney but huge respect to McLoughlin for giving him room. Kearney now sets after Sheane nearly 4 seconds ahead with 4 minutes to go.  With consistently better lap times than Sheane, Kearney is the only person to drop into the 58s but at the Chequered flag, Sheane leads by 1.4seconds punching the air as he takes his debut win. Kearney 2nd with  McLoughlin almost being caught by a charging Keenan at the line.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Let us Entertain You! • Siltex Safety Fiesta Zetec Championship

First race on Day 2 of the Digital-Motorsport.com ICCR Race weekend was the budget tintops of the Siltex Safety Fiesta Zetec Championship. With 14 cars for the one make saloons, close and competitive racing was guaranteed. Off the line Johnston maintained his lead followed nose to tail by a long line of 5 cars. But it’s the hugely experienced Barrable in 3rd who switches from inside to outside and back to inside in the run to Southside to take 2nd from Fleming. On the next lap he repeats the same move to take the lead from Johnston. The trio circulate almost as one reminiscent of bump drafting in Legends. Barrable tries hard pull a gap, but the cars are equally matched which is what you want in a well policed one make championship. There’s nose to tail contact between Fleming and Barrable with all drivers trying not to get caught Nascar style on the outside. Then Johnston round the outside of T1, gets side by side with Fleming and takes the position in the run to T2. The 3 cars as one as they cross the line, Barrable in front not making any mistakes but under huge pressure. Fastest lap of the race to Kavanagh hooking onto the back of the leading trio. The Chequered flag goes to Barrable, then Fleming and Kavanagh just pips Johnston to the line, but Kavanagh loses  3rd after the race as he is excluded from the results for a technical infringement.

The grid for the second race saw the top 6 reversed meaning that Burke was on pole. Burke led from lights to flag but following post race scrutiny, his car was found to be underweight, and he was excluded from the results. Dawson from Row 2 made a good start slotting in behind Burke with Brennan back to 3rd. With cars so evenly matched, drivers were running nose to tail and on Lap 6 all changed, as several cars were involved in an incident on the entry to T1. When the dust settled, Fleming was up to 2nd, with Barrable 3rd and Brennan just behind. Dawson, running in 3rd prior to the incident, now down in 5th. Fleming behind Burke pushing for the lead, with Barrable all over Fleming but somehow, they maintain position. With a 5-car train the attack for position was constant and at the Chequered flag Fleming would finish 1st, behind the excluded Burke, followed by Barrable with Brennan in 3rd.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Consistency from Byrne • IrishAutoparts.ie Future Classics Racing

Sporting a great variety of cars, with beautiful liveries, Future Classics Racing returned to Mondello with numbers on the rise for the ever-popular category. At the start Byrne moved across on Sexton on pole and took the lead. With no chance of breaking the barrier time on the first lap, it was all about building a gap. Sporting some crazy cornering angles in his MX5, Sexton pulls away from Cahill in his Punto. Over commitment sees Sharrock go off and loses 2 places. Hammond gets ahead of Dermody in his Vectra to move from 11th to an excellent 5th. Robbie Parks is the first casualty of the race as his engine lets go dropping a long strip of oil on the main straight, thankfully not on the racing line. He pulls his car to safety at T1 and the marshals bring out the slippery surface flags. Cahill closes up on leader Byrne as competitors start watching their barrier times. But Cahill has plenty of power in his Celica to keep Cahill at bay. Shattock slows as his engine doesn’t sound healthy and he retires to the pits. Dermody follows him on the next lap. Melia posts the fastest lap of the race on Lap 13, a 1:07.497, and is in a terrific scrap with Hammond with them swopping positions under braking in T1. At the Chequered flag Byrne wins from Cahill, then Flanagan for the Super Future class. Behind a terrific last lap battle between Culloty and Healy in the Future Classic class sees Culloty just beat Healy to the flag with Clancy a distant 3rd

Race 2 polesitter Sexton, back out in his MX5 having retired in Race 1, is quickest off the line to lead Byrne, Cahill and Howley. In the Future Classic class, Healy gets the better start to lead Cullotty. Its just not Shattock’s day as he retires to the pits on Lap 2. Just 2 laps later Howley in the ex Mondello school car get ahead of Cahill to take 3rd. In a repeat of Race 1, Sexton takes to pit road with his MX5 and retires from the race having completed just 5 laps. Upfront, Howley closes in under braking on the race leader, Byrne, but the more powerful Corolla pulls away on the pit straight. Lap 7 and Culloty has a good run down to T1 and takes the lead of the Future Classic class. Healy tries in vain to regain the position at T2 but Culloty prevails. At the Chequered flag it’s the race double for Byrne, followed by Howlet just 0.358 behind and Cahill in 3rd just 0.636 back. Culloty wins the Future Classic class followed by Healy and Clancy.

SEAT Supercup Ireland, Irish Supercars Powered by Pirelli & Irish Touring Car Championship

With all 3 grids combined the cars stretched almost back to Southside corner as the third race of the day got underway at Mondello Park. Powering away from the grid on the opening lap was Murphy in his Seat followed by English who got ahead of Neil Tohill. Gerard Tohill, slow off the grid was swallowed by numerous Supercars and he would ultimately retire on Lap 11. Murphy would take almost a customary win for his class followed by English and Tohill. A 10 car grid of Supercars was lead off the line by Corcoran chased hard by Watkins and Parr who retired on Lap 3. At the end of the 15-minute race, first passed the line in Supercars was Corcoran, then Watkins and Linnane in a distant 3rd.  For the ITCC first across the line was Burke having mixed it with some of the slower Supercars throughout the race, followed by O’Reilly just 0.718 behind in his Civic, with Baxter in 3rd.

Race 2 saw a near capacity combined grid take to the track. This time it was English followed by Neil Tohill who took the lead from Murphy in the Seat Supercup. But Murphy would despatch Tohill by the end of the first lap and regain his lead by Lap 4. So it would be the finishing order at the Chequered flag.  The Irish Supercars saw Watkins take the lead at the start but it was the hard charging Parr, who dropped to 4th at the start, who came through to take the win, followed by Watkins and Corcoran. The ITCC never fail to provide good close racing. At the start it was Baxter in his Seat Leon who led keeping a number of Supercars between him and Burke in second. But a trip into the gravel on Lap 4 would see him tumble down the order. Burke now led and renewed his battle with O’Reilly in his Civic. At the flag, Burke took his second win of the day, followed by O’Reilly just 0.5 sec behind and a stunning recovery drive by Baxter in 3rd.

McDonnell & Cullen Share The Spoils • Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST Championship

Peterson having qualified on pole led the grid away on the first lap never coming under any pressure. Despite taking the Chequered flag, he was excluded from the results when his car was found to be underweight in post race scrutiny. McDonnell shadowed Peterson for the whole race, setting fastest lap, ultimately finishing a second behind Peterson. Maguire took a distant 2nd place on the revised result having got ahead of title contender Doran at the start. Doran retired after 5 laps after a radiator hose came off and a damaged engine would mean he would not take part in the subsequent race. Cullen was promoted onto the final podium spot just missing out on 2nd place by the narrowest of margins.

With the top six finishers in race one reversed on the grid it was reigning Irish Ginetta Junior champion Jack Byrne on pole. Byrne nailed the start to lead the field away but entering the Esses too fast he allowed wily competitor, Cullen, to come up the inside. There was further heartache as Turley followed Cullen through. Byrne would lose another position to Race 1 winner McDonnell on the very next lap. Turley was struggling to stay with leader Cullen and McDonnell was looking dangerous in 3rd. Sure enough McDonnell pulled off a dive down the inside at the Esses to take 2nd. McDonnell then set about catching Cullen and soon they were circulating as one. Cullen held firm with some clever driving. Behind in the battle of the rookies, Turley left a gap and not needing an invitation Byrne sweeps by.  Cullen added a win to his earlier podium, McDonnell in a very close second with Byrne in 3rd in a very hotly contested championship.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021

Gerard O’Connell does the Double • Finnstown House Formula BOSS Ireland Championship

The talk of the Paddock was if Paul O’Connell in his new GP2 car could attack the long-standing outright lap record on the National circuit. Having qualified on pole, O’Connell was beaten off the line by the fast-starting Matheson. Ger O’Connell passed Faherty off the line to lie 3rd, then Faherty and Roche in 5th. Matheson held off Paul O’Connell until Lap 3 and Ger O’Connell followed soon after. The two Connells pulled away at the front with Paul leading but he soon had to retire with the car stuck in 6th gear. Mullins who qualified well but started at the back of the grid was moving up through the field. Roche having passed Matheson was now in 2nd. O’Brien passed Faherty to move into the remaing podium sport. Mullins was closing in and as he and O’Brien rounded T2 they touched forcing O’Brien to retire. O’Connell with a commanding lead took the Chequered flag with Roche 2nd, and despite Mullins finishing 3rd on the road he was penalised a place penalty with Matheson inheriting the final podium place.

With Paul O’Connell absent for Race 2 it was Matheson again quickest off the line. But Gerard O’Connell from Row 2, slipped down the inside of T1 to take the lead. Matheson ran wide at T2 and lost several places as Roche, Mullins, Faherty and O’Brien all swept passed. Roche held second until a mechanical issue forced him to the pits. O’Brien failed to finish as his race ended in the gravel at T3.  Mullins had a comfortable gap back to Faherty in 3rd and as O’Connell’s tyres started to go off in the closing laps, he seized his chance and posted his fastest lap of the race on Lap 13. He took further time out of O’Connell over the next 2 laps. O’Connell responded, with his fastest lap of the race on Lap 16 and would take the Chequered Flag by the narrowest of margins on the next lap. Mullins was 2nd with Faherty some 3 seconds back.

Next Event: Mondello Park, 17th & 18th July, 2021