RAIN AND SHINE AT BISHOPSCOURT

Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports -

Like foot­ball, mo­tor rac­ing at Bishopscourt seems to be a game of two halves.

Just like last year, the fourth run­ning of the an­nual event at North­ern Ire­land’s ‘other’ cir­cuit pro­duced yet an­other two-part af­fair. Satur­day’s ac­tiv­ity took place on a wet track, while long-awaited sun­shine ar­rived mid­way through Sun­day to change ev­ery­thing from grip lev­els to the gen­eral mood.

A 20-race pro­gramme for the BARC-RUN event made it a busy week­end but de­spite the early rain and a few red flags, the meet­ing ran to time – a credit to all.

With both races sched­uled for soggy Satur­day, FF1600 got the worst of the avail­able weather, but from the start of prac­tice it seemed that Alan David­son had got the best deal. Hav­ing claimed a brace of pole po­si­tions in Hugh Reid’s ’89 Mon­di­ale, he beat off an early chal­lenge from Noel Robin­son’s Van Diemen to es­tab­lish him­self in front. It didn’t last though, and a spin at around half dis­tance left him strug­gling to es­cape the clutches of a gravel trap, while Robin­son romped on to an even­tual win. David­son did re­gain mo­men­tum, set­ting fastest lap on the way to se­cond place but he never got a chance to get back on terms.

Mak­ing no such mis­takes in the (slightly) drier se­cond race, David­son grabbed a de­served vic­tory while NI Cham­pi­onship leader Robin­son took the run­nerup position. In both races, young Jor­dan Dempsey was a con­fi­dent and un­chal­lenged third.

The rains held sway when the Satur­day BOSS race came to the grid, and it came as no real sur­prise when red flags flew af­ter a hand­ful of laps as Tim Buck­ley’s F3 Dal­lara slith­ered into the Turn 1 gravel.

Early leader Noel Robin­son, driv­ing Stanley Wat­son’s For­mula Re­nault this time, led away from the restart only to find him­self in the gravel at the other end of the cir­cuit a lap later, bring­ing those flags out again and call­ing a tem­po­rary halt to pro­ceed­ings.

Even­tu­ally, af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, Robin­son was de­clared the win­ner on the ba­sis of his lead in the first part of the race. That was an out­come that didn’t ap­peal to run­ner-up Barry Rab­bitt (Fre­nault), an un­happy bunny…

Sun­day’s dry race was much sim­pler – and longer – but this time it was Cian Carey who set the pace with his younger Fre­nault. Once he had dealt with pole­man Robin­son, the Dubliner re­mained in con­trol, and while Robin­son got very close on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, Carey hung on to the end. Rab­bitt took the fi­nal podium place ahead of the de-grav­elled Buck­ley.

Global GT Lights pro­vided ar­guably the best race of the day at the very close of pro­ceed­ings, with Peter Dren­nan head­ing a squab­bling train across the line af­ter 15 min­utes of fran­tic fun, just pip­ping James Thomp­son by 0.4s. Ear­lier, Dren­nan had won the first Global en­counter from Mark Braden by an even smaller mar­gin, and fin­ished run­ner-up to an on-form Ivor Miller in the se­cond.

Not to be out­done, the ASK Su­per­cars and Stryk­ers also pro­duced very close re­sults. Among the for­mer, Andy O’brien and Peter Barrable pro­duced most of the ex­cite­ment to emerge with a vic­tory apiece, while Alan Watkins and Dave Grif­fin also shared out the honours among the Stryk­ers, cir­cu­lat­ing side by side for long pe­ri­ods in both races.

Among the Ir­ish Tour­ing Cars, Grze­gorz Ka­li­necki and his VW Golf GTI proved un­beat­able, run­ning away from the BMW M3 of top North­erner An­drew Arm­strong in the first race and hand­ing out sim­i­lar treat­ment to Martin Duffy’s M3 in the se­cond.

More dom­i­nance was dis­played in For­mula Vee where Dan Pol­ley’s Sheane took a brace of vic­to­ries to head the Lea­s­t­ones of pole­man Kevin Gro­gan and Mark Reade over the line in race one. Colm Black­burn might have been in the mix too, start­ing his Lea­s­t­one from the front row – ex­cept that he didn’t. He stalled and in­stead had to fight back to fourth. He also headed the pur­suit of Pol­ley in race two, rel­e­gat­ing Gro­gan to the fi­nal podium place.

A small grid of SEAT Leons also had two fairly fran­tic out­ings and, af­ter var­i­ous track limit-re­lated penal­ties had been ap­plied, the first fell to Rod Mcgovern from Eoin Mur­ray, while Mur­ray took the se­cond from Erik Hol­stein, whose car had un­der­gone ex­ten­sive re­pairs af­ter a prac­tice off when the rain was at its worst. Rob But­ler and Barry Eng­lish took a third place fin­ish apiece.

Jackie Cochrane’s Sun­beam Tiger was the un­sur­pris­ing win­ner of both the HRCA His­toric en­coun­ters, al­though Bernard Fo­ley’s rapid MGB led for a while in the first race be­fore the Tiger got its claws into the slip­pery Bishopscourt Tar­mac and forged ahead. Fo­ley placed se­cond in the first race ahead of Tommy Do­herty’s Capri, but nei­ther ap­peared on the grid for race two, leav­ing Clive Brandon’s Lo­tus 47 to claim the run­ner-up spot from Val Thomp­son’s un­usual Tmc-costin.

Team Sher­ardize’s Peter Belshaw and Jay Shep­herd came out on top of a late three-way sort out to take the Fun Cup vic­tory over Eco Rac­ing.

Belshaw had run strongly from the start of the four-hour en­counter, but the first hour fea­tured a duel be­tween JPR Uvio’s Graham Roberts and Race­l­ogic’s Ju­lian Thomas, with nu­mer­ous ex­changes. A bat­tery fault put JPR Uvio out con­tention in the third hour and brought out the safety car for their re­cov­ery.

The whole field made their penul­ti­mate stop un­der the safety car, which handed David Denyer the lead for Race­l­ogic, from Paul Turner’s Eco Rac­ing, Chris Hart’s Track Torque/2 Rent Domi­noes and Tim Wheel­don’s Team Honey­well.

Be­fore the race went green again, Hart was in trou­ble. “The en­gine just cut out and wouldn’t fire up again, I kept try­ing and fi­nally it did,” he said af­ter drop­ping out of the top 10.

Turner and Belshaw both got passed Denyer be­fore an­other short safety car in­ter­lude.

Hart made the most of the op­por­tu­nity to close up and, by lap 80, he was third. At the same time, Belshaw went for the lead and emerged with his nose ahead ex­it­ing Old Hall. Wheel­don was also up to fourth at Denyer’s ex­pense, but there were still six cars in con­tention as the fi­nal pit­stop win­dow ar­rived.

Paul Abra­ham pushed hard at the front for Eco Rac­ing, but couldn’t stop Shep­herd mak­ing the de­ci­sive move at Cas­cades six laps from home to seal the vic­tory for Team Sher­ardize.

Abra­ham just held off first round win­ners Track Torque/ 2 Rent Domi­noes’ Henry Dawes by 0.214s to re­tain se­cond.

Jon Tom­lin­son brought the Race­l­ogic car home fourth af­ter de­mot­ing Neil Plim­mer’s Team Honey­well car, while Track Fo­cused trio of Sean Cooper/ Michael Mccol­lum/neil Smith com­pleted the top six.

Luke Wil­liams ousted the fast start­ing Rey­nard of Jamie Jar­dine at Cas­cades on the open­ing lap of the North­ern FF1600S to give the new RFR chas­sis its first win. Jar­dine re­tained se­cond and won the Pre-90 class, with Martin Short’s Van Diemen hold­ing third from Old Hall on lap three and James Roe fourth in his RFR.

Greg Speight’s XR2 was a dou­ble win­ner in the XR Chal­lenge. Ralph Ferni­hough led race one ini­tially from Speight and Steve Poole. Michael Heath joined in af­ter Poole pit­ted but Speight nosed ahead as they com­pleted the third lap, leav­ing Ferni­hough to just keep Heath at bay for se­cond.

Heath had just man­aged to split Speight and Ferni­hough into Old Hall in race two when the race was red flagged. Ex-porsche racer Ben Ea­cock was a dou­ble win­ner too, in the con­cur­rent Puma Cup.

With pole­man David Tom­lin’s 308 GTB pe­nalised for a jump start, Tim Mo­gridge’s F355 headed the Fer­rari For­mula Clas­sic from the start. Hav­ing climbed to third on lap five Lee Moulden’s F355 took three more laps to gain se­cond, be­fore head­ing home Mo­gridge from Cas­cades three laps from home. Gary Cul­ver was third.

Mo­gridge led at the start of the se­cond race too, but had to set­tle for fourth at the flag af­ter Tom­lin and the 328 GTBS of James Cartwright and Cul­ver took the flag line astern, cov­ered by only 0.640s.

Ka­li­necki took a dou­ble ITCC vic­tory in some tricky con­di­tions

Pho­tos: Roy Dempster

Wil­liams gave RFR a win

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