Longford man John Kelly takes victory at the opening round of the Parts for Cars 2016 Irish Rallycross Championship at Mondello Park.
Cold but mostly dry conditions met Drivers and Fans for the opening round of the newly sponsored ‘Parts for Cars’ 2016 Irish Rallycross Championship at Mondello Park just outside Dublin. With a 70+ car entry list, it was all set to be a great opener for the season ahead and it didn’t disappoint!
As the heats got underway it was clear to see that the drivers were right back where they left off after the winter break. In the Supercars, one of the main attractions of the day was Derek Tohill’s – Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta, getting in a lot of practice and development before he tackles the Euro RX season. John Kelly won heats 2 & 3 to secure the top qualifying position heading into the Final, with the two Fiesta’s of Thomas O’Rafferty & Derek Tohill placing second and third respectively.
In the Super Final, off the start grid it was Tohill who fell short. As the cars entered the first corner it was John Kelly (EVO 7) in the lead, followed closely by Thomas O’Rafferty (Fiesta) and Noel Greene (EVO 9), while Derek Tohill still sat at the start grid! As the race went on, the Modifieds were picked off one by one by a hard charging yellow flash and as the checquered flag waved, Tohill passed Willie Coynes Modified Corsa at the line to clinch a hard earned 4th place.
Speaking to ERC24 following the race Tohill explained what happened: “as the lights went green the car bogged down and stalled, it seemed to take ages to restart, the revs on the launch system were set that little bit too low!”
Race Winner John Kelly added: “I got to the first corner and realised you [Derek Tohill] weren’t there, for the whole race I wondered when you were going to pass me! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the chequered flag!”
In the Modifieds, the reigning IRX Champion Willie Coyne was right back on form at the top of the time sheets with Padraig Leeson putting up a great fight in the 1st and 2nd heats before retiring due to a wheel bearing which let go, damaging the hub in the process and unfortunately having no spare. Long time Irish Rallycross driver Lloyd Spendlove was awarded “Parts For Cars – Driver of the Day”. After a grueling 3 heats he fought his way back in his Lotus Exige to win the Modified B Final giving him a slot on the back of the A Final which he put to good use taking 2nd place behind the ever consistent Willie Coyne.
After a long 6 years Brendan Coyne made his return to Irish Rallycross in his Mk3 Ford Fiesta 1.6 BDA, acting as if he never left setting a very competitive pace in his seemingly under powered car, unfortunately Brendan suffered a 30 second penalty in the Modified B Final for not taking his joker lap. ERC24 spoke with the Coyne Rallycross Team and they informed us there could be a chance of an upgrade in the future for Brendan.
In Stockhatch 16v, the 2015 BTRDA Gold Star & 2015 Irish Stockhatch 16v Champion, John Ward had a fresh paint-job on his Parts for Cars sponsored Peugeot 106 GTi to begin the defense of his title, also returning is Derek Lenehan who came back with a new car in the form of a Citroen Saxo VTS. With slight confusion with the start lights Lenehan got to a fantastic start and maintained his lead to win the final. Special mention must go to the only female driver entered, Leigh-Anne Sedgewick from Kent, who battled through car issues all day to show great spirit and commitment!
Stockhatch 8v saw some seriously close racing with Dan Dowling being on top after the heats, then going on to win the A Final which saw a restart after Stephen Jess rolled his Peugeot 106 at Rallycross 3.
Brought to Irish Rallycross late last season is the now popular and ever entertaining Ford Fiesta class which consists of the Mk4/5 Fiesta’s with no modifications except the usual safety requirements of a roll-cage, racing seat and harness. In this fast growing class, Dan McDonnell seemed virtually untouchable, taking the 3 heat wins as well as the A Final!
Ginetta Junior competitor Morgan Quinn made the transition to Rallycross look easy showing a lot of courage and great driving, winning his Irish Rallycross debut. With plenty of position changes the juniors gave us good tight racing and hope for the future.
Race report by Glenn Montgomery & Russell Shaw
Top Photo: Longford man John Kelly takes victory at Mondello. © GM+RS/ERC24
1. John Kelly (106) Longford/Mitsubishi EVO 7
2.Thomas O’Rafferty (154) Gorey/Ford Fiesta ST16
3. Noel Greene (11) Terenure/Mitsubishi EVO 9
4. Derek Tohill (111) Templeogue/OMSE Ford Fiesta
5. Willie Coyne (IRL 1) Tallaght/Opel Corsa GSI
6. Pearse Brown (105) Artane/BMW Compact
7. Lloyd Spendlove (101) Kilquade/Lotus Exige
8. Patrick Ryan (48) Clane/opel Nova
Super Car Final
1. Derek Tohill (111) Templeogue/OMSE Ford Fiesta
2. Thomas O’Rafferty (154) Gorey/Ford Fiesta ST16
3.John Kelly (106) Longford/Mitsubishi EVO 7
4.Noel Greene (11) Terenure/Mitsubishi EVO 9
Modified A Final
1. Willie Coyne (IRL 1) Tallaght/Opel Corsa GSI
2. Lloyd Spendlove (101) Kilquade/Lotus Exige
3. Pearse Brown (105) Artane/BMW Compact
Ford Fiesta A Final
1. Dan McDonnell (43) Maynooth
2. Dave Griffen (89) Clondalkin
3. Kevin Doran (88) Monaghan
1. Morgan Quinn (444) Kill/Micra
2. Shane Duggan (428) Allenwood/Micra
Ben Mullins DNS (414) Lucan/Micra