Reigning SEAT Supercup Ireland Champion Erik Holstein is aiming to get his title defence on track this weekend (6/7th May) as the championship travels to Bishopscourt for Rounds 3 & 4. With the sale of his championship winning Leon Supercopa to World Hotrod Champion Shane Murphy leaving him in need of a new car, a late deal to borrow one left both Holstein and back to back team champions Murray Motorsport with little time to prepare for the season opener at Mondello last month. While the first race would net the former international showjumper a podium, the second encounter would end in a DNF resulting in Holstein leaving the Co. Kildare circuit with a 15-point deficit to 2015 & 2016 Vice-Champion Rod McGovern. Since then however, Murray Motorsport have had time to fully go over the car and Holstein is confident he’ll be right at the sharp end for the second of six dates on the SEAT Supercup calendar.
In his Medicalbanks backed car, McGovern made the perfect start to the third season of the SEAT Ireland backed championship. Winning the season opener, he bolstered his points tally by claiming the bonus points for qualifying on pole and setting the fastest lap of the race. Finishing 2nd in Race 2, again taking the bonus point for the fastest lap, his Mick Merrigan Motorsport team will be looking to continue that form at the high speed Co. Down circuit.
Earning a very popular and well deserved first SEAT Supercup win with victory in Round 2, Barry English has marked himself out as an early title challenger. With a second place in Race 1 to go with his win, his Winthrop Engineering backed Leon sits just 3-points off McGovern. Last time out in Bishopscourt, the Murray Motorsport driver would drive a brilliant Race 2 in Bishopscourt to hold off McGovern to finish 2nd behind team boss & former SEAT Eurocup title contender Eoin Murray.
One of the pre season title favourites, the opening event ended in a qisqualification for Jonathan Fildes but the Co. Meath driver has successful appealed that decision putting him right back in contention. With his Round 2 podium finish reinstated he sits third in the standings. Contesting his first full SEAT Supercup campaign, compared to his rivals he has the disadvantage of having not driven a Supercopa around the 2.9km long Bishopscourt circuit before. A place where the SEAT Sport built car’s aero package is ultilised, he will have just a single 30-minute untimed session on Saturday in which to familiarise himself with the extra speeds before going into qualifying.
The lack of testing opportunities at Bishopscourt will add to the learning curve of championship rookies Sam Mansfield and Shane Murphy. Mansfield impressed on his debut at Mondello and in Race 2 showed that despite his limited racing experience he wasn’t intimidated by the championship regulars. The youngest driver on this year’s grid, his Finnstown Castle Hotel backed Leon lies 4th in the standings. For Murphy, Bishopscourt couldn’t be any further removed from racing on ovals. With the season opener a brand new experience for the hugely successful hotrod racer and his Tervas Gas Racing team, the Cork driver will be hoping to build on everything learned in Mondello.