The season long battle for supremacy in Ireland’s biggest Car Racing championships, the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST Championship and the Mondello Park Fiesta Zetec Championship, kicked off in difficult conditions at Mondello Park today (Sunday March 19th). Not to be outdone by the soaking wet track, both championships put on an impressive show with the Fiesta ST series the closest fought.
Qualifying for the ST’s took place on a streaming wet track and it was a surprise name on the top of the time sheets as former Zetec Fiesta champion John Denning took pole, ahead of four of Ireland’s most experienced saloon racers, Mark Turley, Rod McGovern, Michael Cullen and reigning Fiesta ST champion David Maguire.
In race one Denning was the class of the field as he led from lights to flag, to take his first Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST race win, ahead of Maguire, who had worked his way up from fifth. Hugh Grennan finished third as some of the other front runners were involved in incidents, and he was followed home by Rod McGovern and the impressive Shane McFadden who had started tenth.
The grid for race two saw the top six positions from race one reversed and this put Kevin Doran on pole from McFadden. The pole man was soon demoted to second by McFadden who went on to join Denning in recording a maiden Fiesta ST win, well clear of Doran. While Maguire was once again working his way through the field to finish in third, Denning was heading the other way and was bundled down to seventh. The race one winner still managed to do enough to leave Mondello Park as joint championship leader along with McFadden, while Maguire sits in third just a single point behind.
The Mondello Park Zetec Championship qualifying session was tight at the top with ten drivers separated by a single second. Darren Lawlor led the way while 2016 champion Phil Lawless could only manage sixth. Lawlor converted his pole position into an early lead but then had to endure two safety car periods before finally taking the win, just three hundredths of a second ahead of Mark O’Donoghue. Barry Barrable worked his way from eight on the grid to third by the flag, just getting the better of Lawless.
Fiesta Zetec race two saw O’Donoghue take the win as Lawlor dropped down the order following a couple of off-track excursions. Lawless upped his game to move into second by half distance, a position he held till the flag. Owen Purcell came home in third with Adam Johnston fourth. O’Donoghues’ consistent front running gave him a healthy lead in the championship after the opening two rounds, eight points clear of Lawless with Lawlor sitting third a further two points behind.
The Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST’s and Mondello Park Fiesta Zetecs will be back on track for another double header at the County Kildare circuit on Sunday April 9th when the already large fields are expected to grow even further.