Motor Racing gets off to sunny start

Thursday, 30 March 2017

KIRKISTOWN Racing Circuit was bathed in glorious sunshine as the 2017 season got underway on Saturday.
The opening race was for the Fiesta Zetec Championship and a field of thirteen of these 1250cc cars took to the grid. All were experienced drivers who had competed last year, bar Mark McIlvanna, from Donaghmore and Ricky Hull from Newtownards.
It was incredibly tight at the front, with the lead switching often between 2016 Champion, Jonny Forsythe, from Ballymartin near Kilkeel, Aidie Finnegan, from Ardglass and Thomas Agnew, from Magheralin. At the finish line it was Forsythe 0.5 of a second ahead of Finnegan who was 0.12 of a second ahead of Agnew. Things are tight in Fiesta racing.
Race 2 was for Ginetta Juniors. Only five made the grid, with Megan Campbell from Strangford the lone Ulster competitor. Patrick Dempsey, from Killaloe, took the win. Unfortunately, Megan had a break down.
The third race was a combined affair. GTs joined Saloons and even at that, the Saloons incorporated five of the new-for-2017 BMW 330i cars.
Pat McBennett, from Straffan, in his Honda engined Lotus Exige and Andy Southcott, from Dromara, in his Vauxhall engined Midget, went at it, hammer and tongs, in the GT class until Southcott spun, dropping him too far behind to challenge McBennett again.
Both cars lapped in the 59 seconds bracket, with Southcott recording a 59.21 in his efforts to catch Bennett. Stephen Traub, from Belfast, took his Honda Integra to a win in the Saloons from Ciaran Denvir, from Downpatrick, in his Honda Civic. 2016 Champion, Andrew Armstrong, also from Downpatrick, had a troubled time in his BMW M3, finishing eight laps down.
The two biggest races of the day were the Dawson WAM N.I. FF1600 Championship rounds.
*Read the full story in this week's Ballymena Guardian.


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