Sunday, 10 October 2021

Richie Ryan Secures 2021 Dunlop Mondello Masters Title

Once again Richie Ryan takes the Dunlop Mondello Masters title today and for the fourth time in succession. He hadn't it all his own way this year battling with  Luke Johnston, Derek Sheils, Michael Sweeney, Thomas O'Grady and Emmet O'Grady all year long. It is hard to maintain a high level of performance over a weekend let alone a year but to do it year in year out for several years is quite something. Congratulations to the Kilkenny man on his success this year.













Photos:Barry Cregg.

 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Kearney Wins Final Race But Sheane Seals Series Title In Final Round - Formula Sheane 2021

Richard Kearney on his way to winning the final round of the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

In its 20th season it is fitting that this years championship went to a Sheane. The class and car born from David Sheane as a step up from Formula Vee at the beginning of the new millenium. For the final race it was quiet simple for the two championship contenders. 

Richard Kearney leads Paul McLoughlin, on his way to winning the final round of the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Philip Sheane who had one hand on the trophy after winning the penultimate race only had to finish in the top five if Derek Roddy won. Roddy knowing he only had a slim chance for the big prize was still upbeat and was going out to enjoy his race. " I'd need Phillip to load the car on to the trailer now for a chance to win the title now." He said laughing just before he took to the grid. In saying that a sure victory was taken away from Sheane at the same venue back in July and if a similar thing was to happen it would give Roddy the title cruel as it may be.

Derek Roddy could get no higher than second during the final round of the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Beyond these two there were others out to make up for lost time and ground and to set right the bad runs had earlier in the year. Paul McLoughlin made a much welcomed reappearance and showed good pace in the previous race. Brendan Carr finally got his arm working again to take the wheel of the double race winning car used by Enda O'Connor in rounds 3&4 at July's Mondello meeting. Rookies Chris Dunne and Richie Adams were also out to settle the Scholarship class. 

Philip Sheane stayed of of trouble on his way to winning the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Richard Kearney also wanted to end his bad year with at least one more win stating that he would win before taking to the track. Some prayed for him to win, saying " It will be a long winter if he doesn't!". So still all to play for in this final race of the year. A quick year it has been even though the late start due to the pandemic. Kearney and Sheane lined up on the front row and it was Kearney who got the best start to lead the field through Debtor's and into turn two. 


Paul McLoughlin, top, and Brendan Carr above both showed great pace this after long lay offs, during the final round of the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Paul McLoughlin also made a great start and pulled off a great maneuver around the outside of Sheane to take second place. A slight touch of wheels on the exit may have upset Sheane's rythm for turn three, but his reflexes weren't as he had to move quickly to the left as Roddy was on a charge past with no signs of easing for the corner. In fact he pushed Sheane wide causing him to drop to sixth. By the end of the second lap Kearney had already opened up a gap to Paul McLoughlin as he had Roddy breathing down his neck. Sheane was making his way through the field passing Adams and Carr a couple of laps later. Roddy mad his move into second but it would be hard to catch Kearney ahead especially as he now had broken the toe from the men behind him. Sheane was now in a safe fourth place with no pressure. He couldn't catch those at the front and he had gapped those behind. All he had to do was reel off the laps and the championship was his. Roddy tried hard to catch Kearney but the Carlow man was true to his word and wanted the win. The placings became stagnant with the gaps staying much the same throughout the field from the halfway mark. It would have been nice to see a battle up front for the title but Sheane used his head and stayed out of trouble after that near miss on the opening lap. In the end 

Chris Dunne on his way to winng the 2021 Formua Sheane Scholarship Class championship during the final round of the 2021 Formula Sheane championship. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Kearney cruised to another win and deservedly so as he was the quickest man all day taking fastest lap with a 1,01.708 second lap. Roddy did his best but it was always going to be a tall order and finishing again on the podium added to his consistency for the year. Paul McLoughlin came home in a fantastic third place and if only he had been out all year the championship could have been even closer. Hopefully he makes a return full time to the grid next year. Brendan Carr had a great run just finishing behind Sheane. 

Philip Sheane takes the chequered flag to become 2021 Formula Sheane champion. Kirkistown Racing circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

In the Scholarship class Chis Dunne may not have had the pace in race two to rival Richie Adams but after nearly loosing it all in the previous race he was happy to sit tight and bring the car home to win the class. A brilliant result for the all newcomer to motor racing.  So that was a wrap for the 2021 season which saw a resurrection of the class with four newcomers coming into joining the current runners. Hopefully the interest has been sparked by other to come back out and join them on the grid in 2022!

Results

National Class

1st Richard Kearney

2nd Derek Roddy

3rd Paul McLoughlin

Scholarship Class

1st Richie Adams

2nd Chris Dunne

3rd Garrett McKenna

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joy for Kelly after taking the Emerson Fittipaldi Trophy

Jordan Kelly with the Emmerson Fittipaldi trophy after winning the Formula Vee race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Now that the championship was over for another year the Formula Vee drivers had one last race for the year. The last big prize to win was the coveted Emerson Fittipaldi trophy. The former F1 World Champion who began his career in Formula Vee in his homeland of Brazil kindly donated a trophy to the Irish class several years ago and it is one all drivers want to win. 

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, leads the opening lap of the Emmerson Fittipaldi race as Tim Murray and Dan Polley spin off in the background. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

With nothing for anyone to loose it was a chance for some to bring home silverware that missed out for various reason throughout the year. Also up for grabs was a cheque of €120 for fastest lap kindly sponsored by circuit commentator Alan Drysdale. Final championship round winner Jordan Kelly lined up on the front row alongside pole man Anthony Cross. As the lights went out it was an even start by the two front row men. Tim Murray again got a flyer off the line and challenged into turn two but in doing so took out Dan Polley and Anthony Cross. 

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, leads the field on the re-start of the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

This left Kelly 150 metres clear of the field with only two corners gone. It was short lived as the red flags were brought out and they had to do it all over again. On the restart it was Kelly who got the better getaway from the line and lead into turns one and two. Yet again his pace through the chicane is unmatched as from entry to exit he gained two car lengths over the chasing pack. This was on top of a two car length gap he opened up prior to that. Cross was second with Polley defending from Jack Bynre in fourth. A lap later Byrne was into third and really pressing Cross ahead on the run down to the hairpin. He got by on the inside but Cross had a better exit and it took Byrne until turn two make the move stick. His efforts were undone as he lost the place on the back straight to Cross who powered by. 

Tim Murray, Sheane, leads Jack Byrne, Sheane, and Anthony Cross, Sheane, during the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

All this was playing into the hands of Kelly who just grew the gap lap on lap enough so to break the toe to the second and third placed men. Byrne was like his namesake terrior and would not give up his second spot and retook it going through Debotor's Dip. For a lap it looked as though Byrne was going to make a break from Cross and possibly make inroads to Kelly but again Cross got by at the hairpin and this time held it through the opening corners. What a race it was for second place. Tim Murray had now moved into fourth place and began to close in on the two ahead of him. Kelly just ticked off the laps and continued to pull clear. Gary Newsome though had taken the fastest lap by this stage and if he held on he would be €120 the richer. Murray wasn't biding his time anymore and made a great move into the hairpin to pass both Cross and Byrne to take second place.

Anthony Cross, Sheane, leads Jack Byrne, Sheane, and Tim Murray, Sheane, during the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

 Newsome had now also got by Cross and these four were like a train for several laps not one moving out of line from the other. It really was an entertaining battle and it was anyones for the taking. Then with only a couple of laps to go Byrne got to close to Murray and lost his nosecone and damaged his bonnet which began to flap in the wind. This dropped him back, a shame as he really drive well. Murray now was clear in second from Cross and Newsome but a lap later Cross was right on his tail and trying everything to get by. Murray who has got stronger as the year has gone by defended superbly though. Barring a mistake a mechanical problem Kelly was home and dry. Thankfully nothing happened to the Donegal mans car and he took a deserved win in fine style.

Jack Byrne, Sheane, leads Anthony Cross, Sheane, and Gavin Buckley, Sheane, during the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Tim Murray, Sheane, leads Anthony Cross, Sheane, during the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

 Murray did win the battle for second from Cross with Newsome and Gavin Buckley round out the top five. A mixed year for the young Buncranna man but a great end to the year all the same. Speaking to him after the race he was both relieved and joyful at the same time. " When I broke clear from the field I was just focusing on my lap timer. I was just keeping my times within a tenth of each other which is something I've learned from Sim Racing and was finally able to put it into practice. To win the Emerson Fittipaldi trophy was just the best possible way to end the season where I made too many mistakes with the car. Without the help I got from Dad and my brother Owen it wouldn't have been possible".


Jordan Kelly, Sheane, on his way to winning the Emmerson Fittipaldi race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

So a terrific end to a terrific season with a new name on both the Fittipaldi and Holmpatrick trophies in Jordan Kelly and Anthony Cross. A new name and trophy for the Formula Vee this year after receiving the Martin Birrane trophy where Tim Murray won. That said the same name remains on the main prize again this year after Anthony Cross made in four in a row. 



Jordan Kelly holds up the Emmerson Fittipaldi trophy after the race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Jordan Kelly holds up the Emmerson Fittipaldi trophy alongside Tim Murray, left, and Anthony Cross. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.





Result

1st Jordan Kelly

2nd Tim Murray

3rd Anthony Cross







Monday, 27 September 2021

Roddy rescues third place to bring championship to final race decider - 2021 Formula Sheane Championship Round 11

Philip Sheane leads Derek Roddy as they battle it out during the Formula Sheane race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

From the season opener to the final meeting of the 2021 Formula Sheane series it hasn't failed to provide drama and close racing. The grids haven't been huge in numbers but the entertainment most certainly has. For the final two rounds of the series the drivers visited the county Down circuit of Kirkistown. Located on the Ards Peninsula the trip although long for the southern drivers, is worth it when you see the views along the coastal road nearing the circuit. Combined with the late spell of warm weather you could be forgiven if one was to think they were driving along the Riviera! Before anyone could let themselves think of a holiday the serious business of winning a championship had to be taken care off first.

Richard Kearney claimed pole position by 0.091 of a second. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

It was down to two drivers The first a rookie to the class, the second a relative rookie with not much more seat time in the car over the other. Both though have grown as drivers as the year has progressed. Philip Sheane held a nine point advantage over Derek Roddy going into the penultimate race of the year round eleven. The simplest thing for both men was to win at least one of the races and to put pressure on the other. Easier said than done though as both men have had cruel mechanical luck already this year and indeed for Sheane at this very track back in July where a certain win was taken away by a failing cv joint.

Above Top: Paul McLoughlin leads Richard Kearney as they battle it out during the Formula Sheane race. Above: Brendan Carr made a return from injury earlier in the year. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

It was at the July meeting where Roddy started his run of front running form by taking the gifted win but more importantly upping his pace which he would carry forward for the rest of the year. His two non starts in the opening round were kicking in now though but all was not lost if he could get another win. Sheane also having to DNF's couldn't afford another one and also need another win to make it much easier for the final race of the year. Things certainly didn't look good for Roddy in qualifying as he never got to do a lap as his driveshaft failed exiting the pits for the session. Sheane however just missed out on pole by 0.091 of a second to Richard Kearney who again showed his dry weather pace. 



Derek Roddy and Richard Kearney diced it out for several laps during the Formula Sheane race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.


Another out to prove a point to the field that he hasn't gone away and even though he has no chance championship wise he will want to take a victory or two before the season is out and possibly get third overall. It would also be a fight for the scholarship class title between Richie Adams and Chris Dunne with both men eyeing up the class prize. With Kearney on pole and being one of the best starters on the grid it be interesting to see if Sheane would get into a battle from the off or would he follow the Carlow man for the race? That was answered from the off as unusually for Kearney he got a terrible start and found himself down to fifth by the end of lap one not helped by outbraking himself into turn two and taking to the grass! 


Above Top: Philip Sheane makes a break for it at the fron over Derek Roddy in second. Above: Richard Kearney leads Derek Roddy round the hairpin. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Sheane got a good start but Roddy had a flyer, so much so he thought he had jumped the start. Either way he was in the lead by the end of lap one from the back of the grid! Now the battle was one as Sheane followed suit and was happy to sit there for a couple of laps. Roddy didn't look as comfortable as he usually does up front but held Sheane at bay defending well into the final hairpin. Kearney however woke up and reeled in the two championship contenders easily. However catching is one thing getting by is another another. By the halfway stage he still was in third. It was at this stage Sheane made his move on Roddy getting a better run through the chicane gave him the speed down the straight to pass at the hairpin.

Richard Kearney cuts the hairpin to gain extra time as he tries to catch Philip Sheane during the Formula Sheane race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Once ahead he knew he could control the pace and this he did by opening a small gap by the end of the following lap. He was then helped by Kearney getting by Roddy at the hairpin also. The following laps were magic for the onlookers as these two swapped places on each of the following four laps. It look as though Roddy got sucked into a battle that he didn't need and it could be argued that if he had sat behind Kearney, he would have been brought back to Sheane and maybe then he could get by at a later stage. Easy to say watching from the fence but it was still great to see how hard both drivers were pushing. Sadly for Roddy he pushed too hard going into the hairpin with two laps to go and ran wide and took to the grass. Luckily he was far enough ahead of Brendan Carr to remain in third. 

Richie Adams had a clear run home during the Formula Sheane race on his way to taking the Scholarship class win. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Unfortunate but lucky not to damage the car but his race for second was over and with it more dropped points. Sheane though was delighted to take the win and ease the pressure somewhat before the final round. Kearney took second but rued his bad start and his chance at victory. It would mean Sheane had a sizeable lead of fifteen points over Roddy going into the final round. Behind all this Paul McLoughlin who was out for the second time this year looked good in fourth until he retired on lap three with a mechanical problem. 


A great battle between Garrett McKenna and Chris Dunne ended with a broken nose and wing for Dunne during the Formula Sheane race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.



In the scholarship class Richie Adams, Garrett McKenna and Chris Dunne swapped places in the opening laps until a coming together at the hairpin between McKenna and Dunne resulted in Dunne running over his own nosecone and front wing. This let Adams off the hook to take the win over McKenna with Dunne managing to come home in third. 

Another race where caution was thrown against the wind, but it was still dragging it to the grand finale. Could Roddy take a win with Sheane not finishing? It was Sheane's to lose but he had one hand firmly on the trophy but anything could still happen.

Philip Sheane on his way to victory in the Formula Sheane race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Results:

National Championship

1st Philip Sheane

2nd Richard Kearney

3rd Derek Roddy

Scholarship Class

1st Richie Adams

2nd Chris Dunne

                                                                     

Sunday, 26 September 2021

'B' Championship for Buncranna Man - Selco.ie Formula Vee Championship Round 10

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, on his way to winning the final round of the Selco.ie Formula Vee championship and also the VW Spares title. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

For the final round of the 2021 Selco.ie Formula Vee championship the drivers headed north of the border one last time. The national championship had been wrapped up at the previous round by Anthony Cross and the Motorsport.ie 'Star of Tomorrow' championship by Owen Kelly but the VW Spares title was still up for grabs between Jordan Kelly and Tim Murray. Both men had wins overall in the class this year and also bad luck with mechanical problems and accidents hence why whoever finished in front at the final race would take the title. 

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, leads Tim Murray, and Dan Polley, during the final round of the Selco.ie Formula Vee championship. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

By this time of the season the wooly hats, scarfs and umbrellas are brought back out and especially at the county Down circuit where the sea is only a stone throws away. Not this year, as the Indian summer hung on to make conditions for drivers and spectators sublime. Testing and qualifying took place the previous day with Cross carrying his good form over from Mondello to take pole but by only 0.97 of a second from Jordan Kelly who always goes well in Kirkistown. Murray however kept the pressure on by taking third spot on the grid with another great qualifying by Gary Newsome who would start from fourth. 



Top pic, Owen Kelly throws his glove into his Sheane, after a collison with David O'Loughlin. Middle pic Owen Kelly guides his car on to the recovery truck. Bottom pic, Garry Manning helps the circuit marshals clean up some oil off the circuit. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

A fantastic grid of twenty three cars took to the grid for the final round, a sign that the class has built a solid core of drivers for a full season. As the lights went out Cross spun his wheels and gave the upper hand to Kelly as they left the line. Murray made an even better start to slot into second with Newsome following suit into third as they all rounded Debtor's Dip for the first time. With plumes of smoke at turn two after several lock ups it was expected there would be waved flags but they all emerged in single file with the Kelly in the lead. He gained five cars lengths after exiting the chicane alone such was the speed he was able to carry through. 

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, leads the field round the hairpin on the opening lap during the final round of the Selco.ie Formula Vee championship. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

This would help him no end down the long back straight towards the hairpin. Dan Polley had now got passed Cross and Newsome to hang on the tail end of Murray. By the start of lap three Kelly was on his own with a gap to both Murray and Polley who had also broken away from the pack behind. Behind this at the hairpin David O'Loughlin who spun was unfortunately collected by Owen Kelly who sadly broke the left rear suspension which left his car stranded in the middle of the circuit. There was no option but to bring out the red flags. 

Tim Murray, Sheane, left, and Jordan Kelly, Sheane, battle it out down the back straight during the Selco.ie Formula Vee race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

On the restart Cross didn't make the same mistake twice and got the jump on Kelly and lead the field round Debtor's with Murray in second who also made a great start. With Kelly in the pack Murray took his opportunity at the hairpin to take the lead at the end of lap one. Kelly also got by on the outside of Debtor's knowing he could not let Murray make a break for it. the battle was on and winner would take the prize. For the following two laps Kelly tried his best to outbrake Murray at the hairpin. Both men side by side all the way down on the approach. Murray held firm and his inside line and remained in the lead for now. The next time round he got better drive on to the main straight as also did the new third place man Dan Polley, as the first three went side by side going towards the fast left hand kink. Anthony Cross still held fourth and was also ready to pounce. 

Tim Murray, Sheane, leads Jordan Kelly, Sheane, during the Selco.ie Formula Vee race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Kelly took the lead but by the end of the back straight Murray again got by on the inside line at the hairpin. By the second corner the positions reversed again, this was turning into a classic Formula Vee race. Nothing between the first four cars and all racing clean with not one unfair move pulled by anyone. It was anyones, both Murray and Kelly knew whoever finished ahead of the other they would be champion. Again it was a Senna/Mansell esque run to the hairpin as Murray made use of the tow exiting the chicane to pull alongside Kelly. It worked and he again lead on to the main straight but only briefly as Kelly used the inside line to retake the lead. Polley held off Cross to hold third. 

Jordan Kelly, Sheane, on his way to winning the final round of the Selco.ie Formula Vee championship and also the VW Spares title. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

A lap later they all got a great run through the chicane leaving another three car side by side battle on the run down to the final corner. The margin of error getting smaller and smaller each time. With two laps to go Polley moved into second giving Kelly a slight breather in the lead. He knew he had to get his head down on this lap to make a gap to prevent a last lap scramble. This he did and his run through the chicane alone gained him the time he needed. Murray got by Polley at turn two but try as he might he didn't have the laps left to get close enough to challenge Kelly. Kelly took the chequered flag and with it the VW Spares championship. A deserved victor and champion who proved his pace yet again this year and if weren't for those DNF's he could have brought the national championship to the final round aswell. 

Tim Murray, Sheane, fought all the way during the Selco.ie Formula Vee race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

Donal Downey, Leastone, on his way to winning the Motorsport.ie 'Star of Tomorrow' class during the Formula Vee race. Kirkistown Racing Circuit, Rubane, Co. Down. Photo: Barry Cregg.

" It's nice to get the win today and the B championship, It was a hard battle with Tim and Dan and it was close for most of the race. I just happened to get a gap with a couple of laps to go."


Results:

Selco.ie Formula Vee National Championship

1st Jordan Kelly

2nd Tim Murray

3rd Anthony Cross

VW Spares Championship

1st Jordan Kelly

2nd Tim Murray

3rd Sean McCallion

Motorsport.ie 'Star of Tomorrow ' Championship 

1st Donal Downey

2nd Anthony Conway

3rd Colm O'Loughlen