Test Day - Saturday 20th July
9 of the regular drivers made it over to Ireland for another instalment of the Welsh Irish series. Clive and Terry were there in the Radical Prosports, as were the Global Lights of Peter Williams and Cindy Pierce, the hot rod Corrados of Mark Fennell and Keith White and Alvin Powell in his 1994 Mondeo Touring Car this time (should we buy him a sticker saying "My other cars yet another Mondeo?" After all, he does have 3 Touring Car versions of that particular model!). Rhodri Jenkins was out in his Honda Civic R, and when Larry Philips opened his covered trailer, there sat last years bright orange British Touring Car Championship Production Class Honda Integra R ! As Larry said, the leprachauns must have been working on his Cosworth during the night! Rhodri was looking a wee bit concerned, as the car is 1800ccs and hence in his class, class G!
Begorah! it's Larry O'Phillips and his new car
The final regular driver there was Nick Spence, but unfortunately his car wasnt, as it had been impossible to source the right gearbox parts for his Marcos in time for the meeting.
The test session itself was marred by Mark Fennell having a big off early on. When going round the double apex Bridgestone Corner, the car seemed to dive straight on at the 2nd apex, hitting the solid earth bank very hard. Perhaps the throttle had stuck open Mark wasnt quite sure. Anyway, after a visit to the local hospital Mark was back at the circuit with just a broken foot and a bit of bruising. Best wishes for a quick recovery from us all Mark. Hopefully see you out at Mallory Park.
Race Day 21st July
The weather was set fine for the day, and the regulars were joined by Alan Byrne in another Global Light, Thomas Carey in an extremely quick Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Eddie McInerney in an MD88 (looked like a Darrian to most of us!), Mick Curtis in a powerful Tigra and Robert Dancey in a Golf Gti.
Terry again got pole with Clive 2nd, in 57.34s and 58.63s respectively. Local racer Alan Byrne put in a flying 59.78 to come up 3rd, followed by Alvin Powell, Keith White and Peter Williams, all bracketed together in the 1m.00.25s, 1m.00.72s and 1m.00.94s range. Behind this, in the production saloons there was less than a second between Mick Curtis, Rhodri Jenkins and Larry Philips, with Rhodri just ahead of Larry on 1m06.05 compared with Larrys 1m06.40. Sandwiched between these was the other orange car of Cindy Pearce. Eddie McInerney was having a few problems with his MD88 and 12th, with Robert Dancys Golf Gti in 13th position.
Race 1 Championship Race
Before the race started, we were entertained to perhaps the best drivers briefing any of the drivers had been to. The Clerk of the Course managed to cover the serious aspects of the upcoming days racing with a humour that had everyone smiling. As an example, when some-one asked whether the green lights went on after the red lights went off, he said something like "Well the green lights do normally come on. But I dont know why youre asking, because as soon as the red lights go out youve all gone anyway!".
Terry leads Clive on his way to victory
When the racing got underway, Terry and Clive were at it hammer and tongs from the start of the race, and fought out a close battle, but again Terry was first past the chequered flag, this time by just over half a second. Behind this, Alan Byrne had a polished drive to come in 3rd, followed by Alvin Powell, who was troubled by the Global Light of 4th placed man Peter Williams for large parts of the race.
Keith White managed to fend off the Chevette HSR of Thomas Carey to finish 5th, followed by the MD88 of Eddie McInerney. Rhodri Jenkins was next up, but Larrys new Integra gave him no room to relax for the whole race, with Larry taking class fastest lap by a fraction of a second. Cindy was in 11th , suffering from a lack of gears, followed by Robert Dancy.
Race 2 Welsh Irish Challenge
19 cars in total came out for the Challenge, with the local Irish racers pitting themselves against the the Welsh. Sorry to sound predictable, but Terry won again! This time there was no close battle for the whole race, but considerable drama on lap 1, as Clive made a daring move on Terry up the inside going into Opel, the 2nd corner. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough road (or could it be that the road had too much of Terrys Radical on it!?), and Clive ended up taking a nudge which just took him onto the grass. It all looked OK when Clive started to come back on the track, but unfortunately the mix of surfaces worked against him and he spun. He soon got going again though, and fought his way back through the pack to finish 6th. Alan Byrne fought back from a slow start when he had some sort of engine problems to finish an excellent 2nd, followed by Alvin. Further down the field the production saloons were led by Larry Philips Integra R for most of the race, with Rhodris Civic R hanging on to the back of his car as if on a towbar. Rhodri just squeezed through at the Dunlop Corner hairpin with 2 laps to go, and held on to finish 8th, just ahead of Larry, with Cindy next up followed a pack of Irish Unos, Puntos and other saloons behind.
All in all, a great weekend. The sun shone, the racing was great, and most of, the Guinness was superb! And as for the hospitality, it was right up to the high standard that our Irish friends have always set. See you next time!