The racing was superb at the 500MRCI’s combined car and Superkart meeting on Saturday 22nd June 2019.
The first race of the day was for Kirkistown Fiestas and Mazda MX5s. Nutt’s Corner’s Eórann O’Neill was on pole in her MX5 but Ballyhalbert’s David Cousins got the better start and led into Colonial 1. In the Fiestas, Belfast’s Paul Stewart got the jump on his brother, Mark. Strangford’s Megan Campbell and Belfast’s Desi McGlade were in close attendance. Cousins and O’Neill swapped positions on laps 2, 3 and 4. In fact, O’Neill spun going into Maguire’s Hairpin on lap 4 but by lap 8 she had caught the leading car again and got past, holding the lead to the end. Cousins also spun a lap later but he was able to stay ahead of Crossmaglen driver, Jim Kennedy. Meanwhile, in the Fiestas, Paul Stewart was defending valiantly and successfully from brother, Mark. Campbell was passed by McGlade on lap 3 and by Larne driver, Elliot Hayes, on lap 4, before reasserting herself a lap later and going after McGlade. She got past on lap 10 but two laps later they collided at Colonial 1 and both were out on the spot. That allowed Helensburgh driver, Stephen Walker, to come home fourth, ahead of Carrickfergus driver Michael Mulholland.
The first Roadsports race was an extremely exciting affair. Dundrod’s Ivor Greenwood started from behind in his Radical and was in eleventh position on lap 1. Newtownabbey’s Jim Larkham took his Radical to the lead, ahead of Lisburn driver, Paul Conn’s Crosslé and the similar car of Holywood’s John Benson. Conn retired a lap later. By lap 3, Lisburn’s Trevor Allen had his Westfield into third place, just ahead of Banbridge driver, Paul Thompson, in his Stryker Honda. Steve Morris, from Welling, was fifth in his Crosslé, while a charging Greenwood was up to sixth! By lap 4 he was third and two laps later he was in second position and closing on Larkham! Morris retired on lap 9 and Allen a lap later. This brought Belfast’s David Mutch up to fifth, in his GMS Honda and Newtownards driver, Graham Moore, to sixth place, in his Westfield Honda. On lap 13 Greenwood deposed Larkham for the lead and the top six positions were sealed.
In the first Saloon race, Newtownards driver, Stephen Potter, put in a storming drive in his Honda Integra, taking the lead from Downpatrick’s Ciaran Denvir, in a Honda Civic, on lap one, never to be headed again. Belfast’s Stephen Traub, also in a Honda Civic, had a lonely and uneventful drive to third. Behind these three it was a bit more fraught, at least until mid race. Bangor driver, Alan Stewart, got off the line well in his BMW and by the end of lap 1 he was ahead of Roscrevy driver, Owain Drought, in a VW Golf and Nutt’s Corner’s Donal O’Neill in his Seat Leon. On lap 2 Drought grabbed fourth place. On lap 6 Stewart, O’Neill and Bailieborough driver, Daniel Faherty, in another Civic, were all together going into Maguire’s Hairpin. Stewart locked up and went wide, as did Faherty. While Faherty kept it going, Stewart spun, dropping to twelfth place. The places remained unchanged until the end although Faherty did hound O’Neill constantly for a number of laps before falling away.
The first Dawson-WAM NI FF1600 race was combined with Formula Sheane, by means of a delayed split grid. In the Fords, the battle was intense among the first four positions, for the entire race. The Randalstown Rocket, Alan Davidson, jumped into the lead from the start, while Ballymena brothers, Ivor and David McCullough were second and third respectively. Lisburn’s Will Herron was a very close fourth. On lap 2, David demoted Ivor to third but on lap 4 he made a mistake, which put him behind Ivor and Herron. The ensuing battle with Herron allowed Ivor to concentrate on getting past Davidson, which he did on lap 7. David finally got the better of Herron a lap later and he too passed Davidson on lap 12. Herron achieved the same goal on lap 13 and began pressuring David, who made a mistake and dropped to fourth on the last lap. Cameron Fenton, from Greystones, had an uneventful run to fifth, as did Ballyclare driver, Andrew Blair for sixth.
In the Sheanes, Richard Kearney and Brian Hearty bridged the start gap to finish in that order, among the Fords. Sean Hynes was third, ahead of Brian Egan and Richard McKenna.
Race five was the first HRCA encounter. The first three positions were start to finish affairs, with John Benson taking the win in his Crosslé 37S. Armagh’s Jackie Cochrane took his “back-up” Sunbeam Tiger to second ahead of Blackrock’s Bernard Foley in his MGB GT V8. The next three places were heavily disputed during laps 3 to 6 among Lewis Dunlop, from Donaghadee, in a Crosslé 9S, Kieron Smyth, from Moira, in his “Stephenson Rocket” and John McCandless, from Helen’s Bay, in his Crosslé 47S, who had risen from ninth on lap 1. By lap 7 it was all sorted and Dunlop led Smyth home, ahead of McCandless.
The next race was for the Superkarts. It was the first of three incredible encounters. These machines were the quickest vehicles of the day, bar none. Unlike the cars, the Superkarts amalgamate the results of their three races to get an overall winner in each class so we will cover all three races now. In race one, almost nothing could separate Bangor’s Colin Menary and Lisburn’s Liam Fox, in the 250cc class. Commentator, Alan Drysdale, was hard pushed to keep up with the speed and closeness of the duel. At the finish line, Fox was just ahead by 0.02 seconds! Bear in mind that these Superkarts are lapping at an average lap time of 100 m.p.h! The 125cc class was less frantic, with Comber’s Alan Crossan winning from Ballygowan’s Aaron Newell. Jack Irvine, from Carrickfergus, was third. In the second 7 lap race, Alan Witherow, from Millisle, took the fight to Fox, as Menary dropped out after three laps with a sick machine. At the finish line Witherow was ahead by 0.41 seconds. Richard Dewart, from Waringstown, was third. The 125cc class saw a repeat of the race 1 results for the first three, Crossen first, Newell second and Irvine third.
The final Superkart race was also the final race of the day, which was just as well for Alan Drysdale, as his voice was nearly gone and such was the excitement of this one, it sounded like he was likely to explode! Once again it was Menary and Fox together but this time Witherow was right in the mix as well! Positions were swapping all the time and passes were being made at places where passes just don’t normally happen! Going into the last lap it was anybody’s race but Menary found something extra in the bravery bucket and crossed the finish line 0.67 seconds ahead of Fox, who was just 0.23 seconds ahead of Witherow. The 125cc class was a close affair too with Crossen getting the win by 0.69 seconds from Newell. This time, third went to Brian Jones, from Scarva.
Overall the results in the 250cc class were; 1st Liam Fox, 2nd Alan Witherow and 3rd Colin Menary. In the 125cc class it was 1st Alan Crossan, 2nd;Aaron Newell and 3rd Jack Irvine. At this meeting the Paul Fox Memorial Shield is awarded and it went to Alan Witherow.
Race 7 was the second Fiesta/Mazda MX5 race. Once again, Eórann O’Neill was on pole and she made a better start than in the first race. On lap 3 David Cousins got past her at Maguire’s Hairpin but she retook the lead a lap later and began to pull away. Unfortunately, on lap 5, her car coasted to a halt on the back straight and she was out. An errant crankcase sensor was later found to have caused the problem. This left Cousins to win from Jim Kennedy. On paper, Mark Stewart had a dominant victory over his brother, Paul, in the Fiesta race. However, this belies the incredibly close racing. At one stage they did a lap and a half side by side, each giving the other just enough room to negotiate the corners. On lap 9, Paul’s transponder registered him ahead as they crossed the line. Of course, this jousting allowed Desi McGlade to close in on them, to make it a three car battle. On lap 10 he passed Paul but was repassed a lap later. At the finish Mark Stewart won from Paul and McGlade. Elliot Hayes was fourth, Stephen Walker fifth and Michael Mulholland sixth.
The second Roadsports race was also an exciting affair. John Benson led in his Crosslé 37S at the start but was soon passed by Jim Larkham and the slow starting Ivor Greenwood, both in Radicals. On lap 3 Greenwood got past Larkham but couldn’t get away and on lap 6 Larkham was in front again. A lap later it was Greenwood back in front. On lap 11 Greenwood made a mistake on the exit of Maguire’s hairpin and crashed. This left Larkham clearly in the lead and he won by 12 seconds from Benson. Meanwhile, Steve Morris had been steadily climbing from seventh place in his Crosslé 42S to finish third.
The second Saloon race saw a dominant win for Stephen Potter in his Honda Integra, over Ciaran Denvir’s Honda Civic. Once again, Stephen Traub was third in his Civic. Owain Drought’s VW Golf had been passed off the line by Donal O’Neill’s Seat Leon, both of them passing Alan Stewart’s BMW. On lap 2 Drought got ahead of O’Neill and that was the top five finishing positions set. Andrew Armstrong, from Downpatrick, brought his BMW330i home in sixth place.
Race eleven was the second Dawson-WAM NI FF1600/Formula Sheane encounter and this time Ivor McCullough shot into a lead he would not lose. However, the battle for second was intense. Alan Davidson passed Will Herron on lap 1. David McCullough did the same on lap 4. However, on lap 5, Davidson fell behind both McCullough and Herron. A fierce battle ensued before Davidson repassed Herron again on lap 10 but he could improve no further, although he was just 0.095 seconds behind McCullough at the end. Cameron Fenton had a lonely drive to fifth and Andrew Blair secured sixth place on lap 3.
Richard Kearney won the Sheane race by just 0.45 seconds from Foxford’s Sean Hynes. Brian Hearty, from Dundalk, was a further second behind in third.
The final car race was the second HRCA affair. Although the first three places did not change throughout the race, they were closely disputed. Jackie Cochrane brought his Sunbeam Tiger home just 0.88 seconds ahead of John Benson’s Crosslé 37S. Steve Morris was third in his Crosslé 42S. Lewis Dunlop was fourth in his Crosslé 9S. Kieron Smyth brought his “Stephenson Rocket” home fifth ahead of Dun Laoghaire driver, Clive Brandon, in a Lotus 47.
This had been a most successful meeting that ran on time and provided spectacular racing for the spectators.
The next meeting is on Saturday 27th July and as well as the home classes, it will feature the Future Classics, Ginetta Juniors and Strykers.