KIRKISTOWN: 500MRCI BY IAN LYNAS
The meeting may have featured a smaller entry than usual due to the close proximity of forthcoming holidays in Northern Ireland, but the day still had more than a fair share of incidents.
Drivers, officials and spectators alike hoped that the meeting would have concluded in time to get in front of a TV to watch the Northern Ireland football team play in France.
The best entry of the day came from the Fiesta Zetecs, although it was seven down on the record 24 cars that turned up at the previous meeting. Track limits became a hot topic from qualifying onwards, with a number of drivers facing a stern talking to from the clerk of the course. Driving standards at the previous meeting had been less than desirable and this time around officials were having none of it.
Jonny Forsythe – a previous race winner – claimed pole and he just got the edge on Daniel Conlon at the start, with Adrian Finnegan in third joining in the fight for the lead. The trio broke away from the pack and, with Conlon and Finnegan disputing second, the pressure was eased for Forsythe and he crossed the line first.
Forsythe made it two in a row later on with Finnegan getting the better of Conlon. The race was red flagged due to an incident at the Chicane, but did restart.
With championship leader Noel Robinson on holiday it was the ideal opportunity for Alan Davidson to gain some valuable points in the Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championship.
Driving a Mondiale, he set the best time in qualifying, a session not without dramas as Jake Byrne had no competition numbers displayed on his Ray and subsequently he was put to the back of the grid. While Davidson fought off the challenges of James Roe in the new Ralph Firman-built RFR and Stephen O’connor’s Van Diemen.
All eyes were firmly on Byrne as he sliced his way through the field to challenge for the top spot and he came very close, a rewarding drive netting second place. However, the race was marred by an incident on the approach to the Chicane, which resulted in an airborne wheel from Ian Mcculla’s Reynard collecting a marshal who sustained facial injuries. He was taken to the circuit medial centre and then to a nearby hospital.
Race two was another Davidson benefit as he came close to gaining maximum points for the afternoon, thwarted only by Byrne setting fastest lap in race one. Byrne had a series of highspeed spins. Luckily the Ray did not make contact with the barriers. He said post race: “that was the hardest braking I ever carried out”.
The Ginetta Juniors made their first appearance of the season at the circuit, but yet again only boasted small grids for both races. Samuel Harron was the pacesetter in qualifying. Harron and Daragh Denning immediately set about disputing the lead, but a spin at Fisherman’s for Denning cost him second and allowed William Harron to grab the runner-up spot. Race two also went the way of the on-form Samuel Harron.
The Pre 1990 Formula Ford 1600 drivers had requested a race of their own and Ryan Campbell, who is the most improved driver in the class this season, started from pole in his Reynard. He was made to work for his victory throughout the race by Mike Todd in his Mondiale.