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October 19, 2009

Jondol Junior Rallycross Championship Kicks off at Mondello

A day of close racing with the biggest entry list in the championships’ history, kicked off the Mondello Park rounds of the 2009/10 Jondol Junior Rallycross Championship for fourteen to sixteen year olds, at the County Kildare circuit last weekend. The seven round championship got under way at Pembrey in Wales during September, but Sunday’s first Mondello Park event signalled the real beginning of the championship trail for many drivers.

The opening race at Pembrey saw Simon Quinn from Naas come out on top amongst the Irish championship runners, but with Quinn away at the final round of the British championship on Sunday the way was open for another driver to take the spoils. First to make the running was Dubliner Niall Murray as he sped to victory in his first ever car race, on his way to fastest time in the first run with his Toyota Starlet. Next up were the experienced Northern Irish duo, Andrew Patterson and Mark Francis with their Micra’s, ahead of the first of the previously all conquering Mini’s, the fourth placed car of another rookie Paul Barrett from Maynooth.

Run two saw Paul McArdle from Dundalk push his Nissan into the battle at the head of the field, just behind Patterson and ahead of Murray, with Francis demoted to fourth. The Mini drivers meanwhile continued to struggle against the more modern machines, with Naas resident Sam Kinirons doing best in sixth place. The third run of heats again came down to a battle between Murray and Patterson with victory going to the Dubliner along with pole position for his first ever final.

With thirteen cars completing the heats the Jondol Junior ‘B Final’ consisted of six drivers, all looking to take the win and the last slot on the eight car ‘A Final’ grid. Cavan’s Michael Cahill made the best of the start from the middle of the front row, to lead from the pole man, Carlow’s Seamus Curran. Curran chased as hard as he could for the remainder of the race but could do nothing about his fellow Micra driver and had to concede the place in the ‘A Final’ to Cahill.

The ‘A’ grid lined up with Murray, Patterson and Francis on the front row and it was the more experienced pairing of Patterson and Francis who led away. By the exit of Dunlop at the end of the first lap however, Murray had disposed of Francis to move into second and was already chasing down Patterson. Going through Turn One to start the second lap, the Starlet driver pulled of a move which would have been impressive for a veteran, never mind a raw rookie, as he threw Patterson a dummy to the left before slipping by on the right, half way through the corner. The young Tallaght man then had the attention of Patterson for the reminder of the race but never looked under any real threat as he reeled of the laps to take a maiden win. Sam Kinirons came home third, to restore some honour for Mini drivers, as he worked his way impressively up from the back row of the grid.

While the Irish championship was being contested at Mondello, one of the favourites for the title was busy at Mallory Park in England trying to secure the British championship at its final two rounds. Simon Quinn did all that he could to make the title his during the two day event, by winning all six of his heats and two ‘A Finals’, but his adventure ended in disappointment as he came up one point short of the title. Missing Sunday’s Irish event should not harm Quinn’s domestic championship ambitions however, as each driver is only allowed to count six scores from the seven events. For the next event at Mondello, on November 1st, Quinn will rejoin the Irish series and his presence alongside new stars such as Niall Murray and old rivals Patterson and Francis should liven the Junior championship up even further.