BIRTH­DAY BOY BURKE BAGS A BRACE

Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports - Pho­tos: Michael Ch­ester, kart­pix.net

Ulick Burke took a dou­ble Fi­esta ST win at Mon­dello Park. The birth­day boy had to de­fend hard in the clos­ing stages of race one as Kevin Do­ran piled on the pres­sure, hav­ing fought up from sev­enth on the grid.

Dave Maguire pipped Mur­ray Motorsport team-mate John Den­ning to the final podium spot by the tight­est of mar­gins in a drag race to the line. In race two, with Burke hav­ing pulled clear, Den­ning had his mir­rors full of Maguire for the du­ra­tion. Bren­dan Fitzger­ald came out tops of a rather phys­i­cal bat­tle with Do­ran for fourth.

Dar­ragh Mcmullen drove su­perbly to re­lieve se­ries leader Phil Law­less of the Fi­esta Zetec lead with Michael Tu­multy also grab­bing sec­ond, rel­e­gat­ing Law­less to the third step of the podium. In race two, class re­turnee Alan Daw­son beat pole­man Law­less to turn one, but Law­less re­claimed the lead two laps in. When the pair touched at South­side, Daw­son emerged ahead once again, with Shane Kenny fol­low­ing him through. De­spite Law­less’ best ef­forts, Kenny hung on for sec­ond.

On his re­turn to Global GT Lights, Jake Byrne won race one as he pleased from Peter Dren­nan and Bernie Braden. In race two, Byrne again led un­til he en­coun­tered a way­ward back­marker. Dren­nan pounced, and de­spite a late-race charge from Byrne, hung on for the win with Braden in third. This trio were well ahead of the rest.

James Hol­man took the first Ir­ish Leg­ends race from the im­pres­sive for­mer sa­loon racer Ian Con­roy. In race two, Hol­man had to start from the pit­lane af­ter a clash in as­sem­bly sent him back to the pad­dock. Even so, af­ter the re­pairs, he charged up to sec­ond be­hind win­ner Paul O’brien with Jonathan Tay­lor in third. In the third race, O’brien took the hon­ours, just, from Hol­man and Niki Mered­ith.

Wil­liam Har­ron took a dom­i­nant Ginetta Ju­nior Ire­land win in race one, but brother Sa­muel had to fight off the ad­vances of the charg­ing Dar­ragh Den­ning for run­ner-up spot in the clos­ing stages. In race two, Wil­liam com­pleted the dou­ble de­spite a mid-race chal­lenge from Sa­muel. Den­ning with­stood race-long pres­sure from Mor­gan Quinn to take third.

Grze­gorz Ka­li­necki took another Ir­ish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship win – and in do­ing so, clinched the 2016 ti­tle – with early leader Shane Rab­bitt in sec­ond. Ian O’driscoll was ad­judged to have jumped the start, leav­ing lo­cal man Pa Hud­son to take his de­but Pro­duc­tion win. In race two, Rab­bitt again led away and Ka­li­necki had to work hard to get by. Rab­bitt kept the pres­sure on how­ever, and when a red flag brought a halt, he was still in touch with the dom­i­nant Golf. O’driscoll took Pro­duc­tion hon­ours from Jay O’reilly and Hud­son.

Timmy Dug­gan was the early Fu­ture Clas­sics leader but a bit of help from Tommy Byrne helped him ro­tate at Bridge­stone. When the red flags flew to­wards the end, the or­der was Byrne from David Ham­mond and Wil­liam Kel­lett. In race two, most of the top 10 broke the bar­rier time, [a lap time driv­ers can­not ex­ceed with­out in­cur­ring a penalty] caus­ing con­fu­sion. Wil­liam Kel­lett took his first win de­spite cross­ing the line in sixth!

The re­cent Hot Rod Na­tional Cham­pi­onship Weekender at Hed­nes­ford Hills Race­way was chock-full of rac­ing and drama in equal mea­sure.

A whop­ping 29 races were or­gan­ised by Paul Ger­rard’s In­car­ace team and from my perch along­side en­cy­clopaedic com­men­ta­tor Dave God­dard, neck ache was a prob­lem as one’s head swiv­elled left to right try­ing to keep up with ac­tion through­out the races.

There was a mon­ster en­try of over 50 Na­tional Hot Rods, 48 Stock Rods and 30-plus Light­ning Rods, which de­liv­ered ac­tion aplenty over the week­end.

The sun shone, the rac­ing was stonk­ing with a tremen­dous drive by Adam Hy­lands to win the Na­tional Hot Rod Na­tional crown and a hero’s per­for­mance by John Christie to win the NHRPA ti­tle. What was not to like?

Sadly, it seems a lot as the spec­ta­tor banks were far from full. Come on, oval rac­ing should be the per­fect mo­tor rac­ing day out!

You can see it all, you are inches from the fence, races are short and sharp and there are he­roes and vil­lains in equal mea­sure. And yet, sadly, the Na­tional Weekender was run in front of a mod­est crowd, which was un­fair on the ef­forts of ev­ery­one in­volved. With a Na­tional Hot Rod cost­ing around £40,000 and up­wards, each car beau­ti­fully pre­sented, and some im­pres­sive team ve­hi­cles in the pits, this is not a cat­e­gory to look down your nose at. The cars look good, sound im­pres­sive and yet for those be­hind the wheel, rac­ing a Na­tional Hot Rod is akin to wet­ting your­self in a pair of black jeans: you get a warm feel­ing and no-one sees it. Why is it not at­tract­ing peo­ple to watch it? Not just long cir­cuit spec­ta­tors, but even oval fans seem to stay away, which is a real worry. If the core au­di­ence is dwin­dling then some­thing is very wrong, and it is dou­bly wor­ry­ing when the cat­e­gory looks bet­ter than ever and a new-look NHRPA (Na­tional Hot Rod Pro­mot­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion) is work­ing to move the class for­ward.

Maybe, just maybe, the con­cept of non-con­tact rac­ing on ovals needs ad­dress­ing and ask whether a con­tact equiv­a­lent event (stock cars and bangers, for ex­am­ple) would have at­tracted more peo­ple. Dis­cuss.

So, come and learn. Na­tional Hot Rod rac­ing is a hid­den gem and its fu­ture is in your hands.

No­body could stop Burke in Fi­esta STS

Byrne won on his re­turn to Global Lights

Na­tional Hot Rod rac­ing al­ways en­ter­tains the fans

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