Sunday, 12 May 2019

ITCC Round 3 & 4

Rounds three and four of the TECH-IT Irish Touring Car Championship brought the drivers to beautiful Bishopscourt race circuit in county Down.

The series still missed some front runners as both Barry Travers and Shane Rabbitt still failed to get their cars ready for the weekend. While Shane didn’t make it out, his brother Keith amazingly managed to build his car in three weeks to make sure one of the Rabbitt family got out on track for the weekend.

Round one winner and local man Ciaran Denvir was out to pick up where he left off, but faced stiff opposition from Andrew Armstrong who took pole for race one in his BMW M3.

For the first race it was Ulick Burke in his Honda Integra, who made the best start and lead the field into turn one. A collision between Jay O’Reilly and Donal O’Neill brought out the red flags. This was a bonus for Denvir who had spun and dropped back considerably down the field. Once the grid was reformed the action got underway again it was Burke who got the better start and lead the field into turn one.

Burke made a break on the opening laps but Armstrong soon reeled him in and got by on lap three and began to open a gap of 15.420 seconds. Behind the front two Ciaran Denvir, Keith Campbell, Stephen Potter and Robert Savage battled it out for the final podium spot. Then halfway through the race Ulick Burke’s Honda Integra developed mechanical problems and began to drop back to the third placed battle. Three laps from home Denvir, Potter, Campbell and Savage had got by. An unfortunate end for Burke who had shown great pace early on and also for Savage and Capbell who both got penalties for exceeding track limits which promoted Ulick Burke back up to fourth. So at least some points were saved for the Westmeath mans championship.

Andrew Armstrong comfortably took the win by 15 seconds ahead of Ciaran Denvir with Stephen Potter in third.

Speaking to Andrew after the race he explained the bad start he had. “We have an ECU fault which won’t let me rev it out when on the line, which means i cant get off the line and it drops me back down the field. It’s fine when it gets going just at the start its a problem.”

For the second race it was again Armstrong on pole but sadly for Ulick Burke his mechanical problems from race one continued and he had to pull in on the outlap. Ciaran Denvir made the start this time and lead the field into turn one. Denvir quickly opened up a healthy lead as Armstrong again had to fight his way up through the field after another poor start. Gareth Hayden and Robert Savage both received jump start penalties. Armstrong took the lead on lap five but Denvir wasn’t giving up and retook the lead on lap seven. Then on lap eight Armstrong began to slow with mechanical problems and dropped behind Keith Campbell.

Denvir commanded his lead to take the his first home win at Bishopscourt from Keith Campbell and Andrew Armstrong. Two races over the weekend kept the series supporters entertained, and as the series heads back to Kirkistown next month it is still Ciaran Denvir who is the man to beat. Can he repeat of the first round and make it another double ??

Results by class:
Class A Race 1
1st Andrew Armstrong
2nd Ciaran Denvir
3rd Stephen Potter

Class B Race 1
1st Keith Campbell
2nd Robert Savage
3rd Gareth Hayden

Class C Race 1
1st Daniel Faherty
2nd Tony Gallagher
3rd Alan Donnelly

Class A Race 2
Ciaran Denvir
2nd Andrew Armstrong

Class B Race 2
1st Keith Campbell
2nd Robert Savage
3rd Gareth Hayden

Class C Race 2
1st Daniel Faherty
2nd Tony Gallagher
3rd Alan Donnelly Formula Vee Championship Round 3

Paul Heavy, Leastone, takes the chequered flag ahead of Anthony Cross, Sheane, to win the 'A' race. Photo: Barry Cregg.
The third round of the Selco Formula Vee championship brought the drivers to the beautiful Bishopscourt race circuit in county Down in Northern Ireland.

Paul Heavey, Leastone, leads Anthony Cross, Sheane, on his way to winning the 'A' race. Photo: Barry Cregg.
Bishopscourt specialist Dan Polley who has won the last six races at the track, was out to not only out to keep his winning streak going but also to get his first win of 2019. The Dubliner has had to watch rivals Jack Byrne and Anthony Cross take the chequered flag at the Kirkistown and Mondello rounds of the championship so far this year.

Anthony Cross drew first blood as he grabbed pole from Polley by 0.100 seconds. Unfortunately Polley was a non-starter and as the lights went out it was Cross, who made the most of the free space vacated by Polley at the start and lead the field into first corner.

Dan Polley, Sheane, leads Jack Byrne, Sheane, during the 'A' race 1. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Paul Heavey, Leastone, in action during race 1. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Anthony Cross, Sheane, takes the chequered flag ahead of  Jack Byrne, Sheane, to win the 'A' race. Photo: Barry Cregg.
Right from the first corner Cross had his mirrors full of Jack Bryne and veteran Formula Vee driver Paul Heavey. Heavey then made a move on Byrne going into the chicane on the back straight to move into second. This trio quickly pulled clear of the field but on lap three Byrne while attempting to pass Cross got caught out on dropped oil and spun off at the hairpin.

This left Heavey and Cross to battle it out and both drivers put on a great display swapping the lead several times over the course of the race. By crossing the line with three seconds to spare, they got one final lap in the 15 minute timed race. It was Heavey who drew on all his Formula Vee race experience who came out on top as he took the chequered flag by 0.161 seconds ahead of Cross. Jack Byrne recovered to finish in third.

For the second race it was Anthony Cross starting from pole. He made best use of it as he lead off the line to head the field into turn one.

It looked to be shaping into a copy of race one as Cross, Byrne and Heavey began to battle it out in the opening laps. Until a mistake by Heavey ended in an off-course excursion, dropping him down the field. That left both Sheane car drivers Cross and Byrne to battle it out for the win. Byrne passed at half distance but it was a short lived as Cross was ahead again a by the end of the lap. Once cross regained the lead he never let it go and started to open a small gap on Byrne but the red flags came out on the final lap ending the race somewhat prematurely.

Another two close races at the sharp end of the field that kept the onlookers on their toes. The championship is still wide open and im sure it will be just as close at the next round.
Results by class:

A Championship Race 1
1st Paul Heavey
2nd Anthony Cross
3rd Jack Byrne

B Championship Race 1
1st Paul Heavey
2nd Jack Byrne
3rd Matt Bodden

Star of Tomorrow Championship Race 1
1st Philip Seane
2nd JB Farrell
3rd Sean McCallion

A Championship Race 2
1st Anthony Cross
2nd Jack Byrne
3rd Philip Sheane

B Championship Race 2
1st Jack Byrne
2nd Robert Fleming
3rd Colin Lewis

Star of Tomorrow Championship Race 2
1st Philip Sheane
2nd Justin Gray
3rd JB Farrell

Photographs: Barry Cregg

Thompson's Double Delight

Rounds three and four of the Irish Auto Future Classics Championship brought the drivers to Bishopscourt race circuit in county Down.
The series, which caters for Production Saloons, Hatchbacks, Coupes, Estates and GT cars up to the year 2004, brought a strong grid of competitors for the weekend.
Rounds one and two which were in Kirkistown, saw Gareth Thompson and Aidan Byrne in their Toyota Celicas share the spoils in the Super Future Classics. In the Future Classics class saw a dominant performance from Gary Duggan in his Fiat Punto. So these were the men to beat going into qualifying for rounds 3 and 4 in Bishopscourt.
Anthony Kelly did just that by taking pole position in his Honda Civic from series newcomer Brian Sexton in hid Toyota Celica to lock out the front row of the Super Future Classics.
Kevin Cahill in his Peugeot 205 and Stephen Martin in his Fiat Punto headed the front row of the Future Classics grid.
In Super Future Classics race one Anthony Kelly in his Honda Civic and Brian Sexton in his ex- Ken Byrne Toyota Celica broke away from the field early on. Championship leader Gareth Thompson in his Toyota Celica found himself in a race long, four car battle with Aidan Byrne, Ger Byrne and Mike Dermody in their Toyota Celica, BMW 323i and Vauxhall Vectra respectively.
Sexton led for the majority of the race until Kelly made a move with four laps to go. All to no avail for both however, as they both broke the barrier time, giving themselves time penalties. This insured both would drop down the field ending in fourth and fifth respectively and giving another win to Gareth Thompson. Thompson took the win with Aidan Byrne second and Ger Byrne third.

In the Future Classics Gary Duggan added another win to his tally this year but it was not as easy as that as he had to start from the back of the field, having broken the barrier time in qualifiyng. Having got to the lead he had to fend off Paul Flansgan also in his Fiat Punto and only 0.3 seconds coverd both men crossing the line. Brent Hughes in his Mazda MX5 finished in third.
For race two of the Super Future Classics Thompson got his Toyota Celica off the line best and led the field into turn one. A daring move at the start of lap two though, by Brian Sexton passing both Thompson and Kelly, around the outside as they went into turn one saw the Kildare man take the lead. A repeat of race one evolved as Sexton and Kelly pulled clear again of the field. In this race however Thompson pulled a gap of 3.248 seconds on Byrne and held it to the chequered flag. Again and not surprisingly Sexton and Kelly broke the barrier time again dropping them down the field, with sexton finishing in 10th place and Kelly in 8th.

In the Future Classics race two Gary Duggan added to his earlier win. This time though he had to fend off Jimmy Kilbride in his Peugeot 106 but pulled a gap of 2.021 seconds by the finish. Paul Flanagan had to settle for third this time finishing a further 4.5 seconds behind Kilbride.
The two races were some of the best of the weekend if the penalties were taken out of the equation, but Gareth Thompson has now started to build a healthy championship lead for himself, which could grow even more if the opposition are not careful.
Photographs: Barry Cregg.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Around A Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races.

 Derek McGee, Kawasaki ZX10RR, leads Derek Shiels, on his way to winning the Grand Final race during the Around A Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races.

Sunshine greeted riders and the large crowd that flocked to the 49th Tandragee 100 road races. While the sun shone a cool breeze came along with it but it certainly did not cool down the action as a week on from the Cookstown 100, the Southern riders picked up from where they left off, by taking the spoils again. The opening race of the day began with the Supersport 600 race, where the “ Mullingar Missile “ Derek McGee onboard his Kawasaki ZX6R  had his hands full as he was pressed hard by Adam McLean (also on a Kawasaki ZX6R), all the way to the chequered flag. An enthralling race for start to finish as both men swapped the lead several times but it was McGee took the top step on the podium by 0.3 seconds from McLean with Derek Sheils a further ten seconds back in third.
For the open race the riders brought out their Superbike machines and produced another highly entertaining race for the packed grandstands and hedgerows. Derek Sheils, onboard his Burrows Engineering Suzuki GSXR 1000, slotted in behind poleman Derek McGee who made the holeshot on his Kawasaki ZX10RR. Michael Sweeney on his BMW1000RR and Adam McLean on his Kawasaki ZX10RR. While the foursome stayed together for the first half of the race, Sheils and McGee broke away towards the end with Sheils coming out on top this time from McGee and McLean to make it two open races from two this season.

Derek Shiels, centre, Suzuki GSXR 1000, leads from left, Adam McClean, Kawasaki ZX10RR, Michael Sweeney, BMW 1000RR, and Derek McGee, Kawasaki ZX10RR, on his way to winning the Open race during the Around A Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races.

For the Supertwins race, Derek McGee and Adam McLean once again faced each other. McGee taking the lead from the off with the hard charging McLean right behind. Mclean then dropped time after a mistake on the final corner on the penultimate lap. Sadly for him on the final lap he crashed causing the race to be stopped. A statement from McAdoo Racing Team said
“Adam is in the Royal Hospital, Belfast after an accident in the Supertwin race. He has arm, shoulder and pelvic injuries but is in really good spirits and making jokes in the hospital. (We’re) so proud of the lad. Twenty two years old and pushing to win these races against way more experienced guys.”
The race was declared giving McGee the win with Sweeney second and Neil Kernohan third. Sadly for McLean the injuries he sustained means that he will miss the upcoming North West 200.

Derek McGee, Kawasaki ZX6R, leads Adam McClean, Kawasaki ZX6R on his way to winning the Supersport 600 race during the Around A Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races.

For the big race of the day the Grand Final the southern trio of McGee, Sheils and Sweeney produced the race of the day. Back onboard their Kawasaki, Suzuki and BMW Superbike machines respectively, they locked horns for the entire race. It was encouraging to see Sweeney stay with his Southern counterparts as he had struggled to match their pace in the Open and Supersport races earlier. McGee led from the off but lost the lead on the penultimate lap when Sheils made his move. Determined not to loose on the big bikes for the second time he retook the lead on the final lap and crossed the line by 0.195 seconds to win the final race of the day. Michael Sweeney was also right there too and took the final step of the podium which was covered by less than a second.
In the support races, fans favourite Guy Martin brought his BSA Rocket home to win the 1000cc classic class race. The 500 cc classic race went to Dean Stimpson and the 250 cc classic race went to Brian Mateer with Barry Davidson taking the 350cc classic race which all ran together.
The Junior Support race went to Kevin Baker onboard his Kawasaki ER6 from Eoin O’Siochru and Vinny Brennan.

Kevin Baker, Kawasaki 650, leads Vinny Brennan, Kawasaki 650 on his way to winning the Junior Support race during the Around A Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races

The Senior Support race went to on his Andy McAllister comfortably from Darren Keys and Darryl Anderson.
The lightweight race went to Derek McGee from Paul Williams and Darryl Anderson to make it four wins and a second for his days efforts.
An excellent days racing was provided by the country’s top road racing stars in the May sunshine, keeping the crowd on their feet all day. Next up is the big North West 200 where our stars will challenge their UK counterparts for glory.
Photographs: Barry Cregg