Yet again, the participants at Kirkistown on Sunday 22nd March were blessed with almost perfect weather. Yes, it was cold, as expected in March, but the sun shone all day. The health of this branch of motor sport can be judged by the number of newcomers sampling the joys of driving fast and safely on a closed circuit.
Jonny Firkin was new to the Mazda MX5 ranks and he went well on his first day. A man who also joined the growing MX5 Brigade was experienced wheel man, Malcolm Bruce, who in the past has pedalled a Subaru Impreza at the circuit. Rafael Ribeiro took it very easy in his Toyota MR2 on his first day but Conor Hamill seemed more at home in his Westfield, as a newcomer. This is the beauty of track days. Nobody is expected to go any harder than they wish. It’s all about gathering experience at a comfortable pace.
Paul Dunstan went quickly, without trouble, in his well turned out Mitsubishi Evo. We also had a number of Ginetta Junior drivers who were amazing, given their ages.
Trackskills are very proud of the large number of drivers who have left their ranks to go racing, over the years. Included in the list is the outright lap record holder at Kirkistown, Philip Shields. Philip comes back every now and again and usually brings one of his immaculately prepared Ferraris. Such was the case on Sunday. He spent most of the time on track giving passenger rides to some lucky folk, in his race prepared 458.
The trend towards competition continues and this year we have Roy and Paul Stewart, Desi McGlade and Jonny Forsythe joining the Kirkistown Fiesta class. These four plus Niall O’Hanlon and Cahal Nugent were a great sight to watch as they racked up the miles in close company all day in these evenly matched cars.
A few people didn’t have great luck on Sunday. Tony Traub’s DC5 refused to run cleanly. A fuel starvation problem is the likely cause. Raymond Grimes’ MR2 gave up the ghost half way through the afternoon and Loris Nikolov discovered what it feels like to suddenly become a passenger rather than a driver when he had a suspension failure in the chicane.
The Locaterfield people have begun to come out of winter hibernation, perhaps attracted by the sun! It was great to see the return of Paul Keys and Jeff Rutherford in their Megabussas. Father and son team Richard and Chris Kyle brought theirs as well as did David Murray. Davis Buick brought his Reis Aero variation back after a long absence.
An interesting phenomenon is that of Nicolas Wood and his Princess (Elise). Ever since the Honda heart transplant, this car just gets quicker and quicker and yet Nicholas becomes more anonymous! It must be the extra concentration required to go round so fast. We hardly know he has been there! We’re missing your craic, Nicholas!
Special mention has to go to Brendan Cumiskey who drove his beautiful Mini Clubman 1330 hard all day. It was a pleasure to see this rare machine being driven properly. Another beautifully turned out machine was “Roxy”, the extremely sexy Mazda RX8 belonging to Norman McNaught. This car is ready to race and we are encouraging Norman to take the plunge and join the ranks of the Kirkistown GTs.
Thanks to the marshals and also thanks to the new crew from St John who dealt with the Loris Nikolov incident quickly and efficiently. The wait until our next date is shorter this time. It is on Sunday 19th April. See you there!
Thanks to Marc Whitford for the Photos.