BIRTHDAY BOY BURKE BAGS A BRACE
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