A double win for Robert Savage in Pembrey was what was required to reign in the dominant, if not temperamental Mazda of Shane Rabbit. Rabbitt leads the Tool Dynamics Irish Touring Car Championship by 14 points with Savage in second position and Keith Campbell running close behind in third. Now it’s time for rounds 5 & 6 of the Tool Dynamics ITCC in Mondello Park on 11th June.
This only sets the scene for what promises to be an enthralling double header at Mondello Park. Shane Rabbitt, although leading the championship, has had difficulties with the Mazda RX7’s fuel system. Rabbitt had some fortune in the Pembrey meeting, running out of fuel in race one after leading, saw the Meath man limp home in 2nd. A ‘get out of jail’ card saw Rabbitt DNF in race 2, however a red flag incident saw the results go back a lap and hand another 2nd to him. He must be slightly relieved to find the meeting will now run on the National track, rather than the International Circuit as previously advertised, as he knows the fuel cell can take it. Rabbitt also did a test day in Kirkistown to run the car after modifications. All seems good!
Robert Savage stood down from the opening two rounds of the championship and took up the opportunity to race Bob Cameron’s Supercar. On his return, in the Honda Integra, Savage showed why his home for racing is the ITCC. Not having the outright pace of the Mazda, the combination of skill, handling and reliability gave Savage the edge on the day, being in the right place to pick off the competition to take maximum points.
Keith Campbell couldn’t make the overseas trip to Pembrey, however he still lies third in the championship, following a fantastic opening double header in Mondello. Knowing he can perform well with a win in round 2, must give the Longford man lots of encouragement on his return.
With Gareth Hayden and Brian Sexton also making their debut appearances for the class in Pembrey, scoring solidly sees them 4th and 5th in the class respectively, followed by Ulick Burke. Burke has had great pace in the Integra, however a combination of issues conspired against Galway native to get the results he ultimately deserved so far in the championship. Martin Duffy in his BMW M3 and Jay O’Reilly in the stunning Honda Civic are tied 7th position in the championship. The power of the M3 should prove to be good competition for the front runners. O’Reilly’s Civic, with the power and agility, should be right up there too in the Co Kildare technical national circuit.
The production class has been dominated by the performance of Pa Hudson with four wins to his credit. With only four races out of twelve, the Kildare man may not have it all his own way. Adrian Dunne performed superbly in rounds 1 & 2 in the Citroën Saxo to take two 2nd places. Missing the two Pembrey rounds, still leaves him in second in the championship. Daniel Faherty lies in third position in the Civic Type R, also missing the Pembrey event. Tony Gallagher made trip to Pembrey and was certainly able to mix it with Hudson’s pace. Gallagher, in his Honda Accord could be the joker in the pack.
The competition could not be closer. Has Rabbit sorted out the Mazda issues? Can Savage keep the flawless victories coming? A chasing pack will liven it up for the two front runners.
The racing has been close, clean and exciting to watch. This weekend will see the pressure rise, with drivers having things to prove, points to make and a exciting championship to develop. Bring on the race.