Sunday, 30 August 2020 Formula Vee Championship Round 3

Philip Sheane, Sheane, leads Mark Reade, Leastone, and Gavin Buckley, Sheane, on his way to winning the Formula Vee race at Kirkistown. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Kirkistown Racing Circuit located in the beautiful Ards Peninsula hosted round three of the Formula Vee championship. Usually by this time of the year the competitors have already made several trips north of the border in their quests for championship glory, but as we all know this is no ordinary year. With it being the first trip to the county Down circuit for this season and for some, the first time ever. It proposed a more level playing field than the previous round at Mondello Park. 

Another strong grid of twenty-three cars entered for this round but not without some notable absences. Current champion and series leader Anthony Cross could not make this round due to work commitments along with main title contenders Dan Polley and Jack Byrne were also non starters. Without the three front runners, it opened up the field to earn some valuable points for their championship hopes. 

It is not an easy year for anyone during the ever changing climate of Covid-19 restrictions, lockdowns, guideline changes they each have to decide if they can make each round or not. That said however, credit has to go to the Formula Vee committee to keep the championship going albeit a shortened one. Their efforts weren't helped during qualifying though when technical issues with the circuit timing system left several drivers without a lap time. This left everyone in a mess with a grid not properly formed and with quicker drivers due to start behind rookie drivers, it led to safety concerns. With all avenues looked at the best option was agreed in a vote to re-run qualifying. When the flag came out to end the session it was Philip Sheane who topped the timesheets by only a meer four thousands of a second ahead of Mark Reade who had got pole in the original qualifying. Gavin Buckley and Tim Murray locked out row two. With qualifying re-run, it left only one race as opposed to two for the B and C championship drivers. 

Philip Sheane, Sheane, on his way to qualifying on pole position for round 3 of the Formula Vee championship race. Photo: Barry Cregg.

When the lights went out it was Sheane who lead the field out of turn one, the very fast Debtor's Dip. Mark Reade though was not going anywhere and stuck right with him on the approach to to turn two, where he outbraked him and took the lead. This was only the beginning of closely fought battle for the lead. Gavin Buckley got the better start over Tim Murray to move up to third. With the front two busy battling it out the third and fourth place men of Buckley and Murray caught up after slightly dropping back on the opening lap to make it a four car battle for the lead. 

Mark Reade, Leastone, leads Philip Sheane, Sheane, during the Formula Vee race at Kirkistown. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Mark Reade, Leastone, leads Philip Sheane, Sheane, and Gavin Buckley, Sheane, during the Formula Vee race at Kirkistown. Photo: Barry Cregg.

From watching from the inside as the cars make their fast approach to turn two Coloniel, it always leaves you with a heart in the mouth feeling as they thread the fine line of success and disaster as they try an overtaking maneuver. Thankfully no disasters happened this time, but on the opening laps Sheane and Reade certainly pushed that fine line touching wheels on lap four as Sheane retook the lead. It was short lived however, as a lap later Reade was back in front. 

Philip Sheane, Sheane, overtakes Mark Reade, Leastone, at Coloniel with Gavin Buckley, Sheane, in third during the Formula Vee race at Kirkistown. Photo: Barry Cregg.

The race was turning into a Formula Vee classic as the lead changed hands again on lap six but then on lap ten mechanical trouble hit Reade's car as it dropped to three cylinders dropping him out of contention for the win and back to sixth place. This left Sheane to hold on to his lead in more comfort now that Reade had dropped back but he still had Gavin Buckley not too far behind to relax entirely. Buckley held third from the opening lap but had to fend off Murray in the opening laps, until he and JB Farrell began their battle for fourth swapping places several times. Then sadly for Murray he had to retire with mechanical problems on lap ten. It would have been interesting to see if Farrell had got clear of Murray earlier in the race and how close he could have got to the first three. He had the pace by setting fastest lap on lap four with a 1.05.505 lap, eight tenths quicker than Buckley and 1.1 seconds quicker than what Buckley and Reade were doing.

A general view of the action during the Formula Vee race. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Another impressive display was shown by newcomer Michael Killian who had ran in a creditable sixth place for the majority of the race but as Murray and Reade had their problems, it elevated him to fourth by the finish. In the end Philip Sheane reeled off the final laps to take his maiden win in Formula Vee. A fantastic result for the Wicklow man and one that had been coming for a while. 

Kirkistown is a fast track and hard on cars but it can provide some great racing. This round provided some drama before the race began and during it. It provided a new race winner, elevated newcomers to positions earlier than expected in the season and left some with a lot of repair work to do before rounds five and six at Mondello Park on September 12th and 13th.


Selco Hygiene National Championship

1st Philip Sheane

2nd Gavin Buckley

3rd John-Benedict Farrell

VW Spares B Championship

1st Philip Sheane

2nd John-Benedict Farrell

3rd Mark Reade Star of Tomorrow C Championship

1st Michael Killian

2nd Karl O'Sullivan

3rd Michael O'Callaghan