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October 16, 2008

Local Racers Dominate Junior Rallycross Series


rallycross The Jondol Furniture Junior Rallycross championship for fourteen to sixteen year olds, had its first Mondello Park race of the season on Sunday with local drivers dominating right up till the finals.

The championship which sees young drivers compete in near standard cars of up to 1000cc has been an exciting addition to the Irish rallycross calendar for the last two seasons with the numbers taking part seeing a significant increase this year. Junior rallycross is already doing its job as a stepping stone for underage drivers into senior rallycross as former junior driver Liam Doran proved in the Supercar final at Mondello by taking second overall.

Mondello's event was the second round of the 2008/2009 Irish Winter Rallycross season with the first event having taken place at Pembrey in Wales two weeks previously. At round one UK resident Dan O'Brien came out on top of the Irish series contenders ahead of Kildare racers John Quinn and Sam Kinirons, to lead the championship as it headed back to Mondello.

The lack of competition experience among the Jondol championship field was no barrier to close racing as the heats got underway, with the top four competitors separated by less than a second a lap after the first run. Naas teenager Quinn headed the field in his Jondol backed Mini, with fellow Mini driver and championship leader O'Brien second. Mark Francis from Co. Down came home third with Prosperous resident Padraig Leeson fourth, while the second Naas based championship challenger, Kinirons, found himself back in seventh.

Run two was unusually spread out with O'Brien taking a comfortable four second win over Leeson with Quinn a further five seconds in arrears. Kinirons suffered another bad run dropping back to ninth place. The final heat saw Quinn back on top with a two second win over Nissan drivers Francis and Leeson, who finished just 0.4 of a second apart. Two top spots out of three was enough to give Quinn pole position for the final ahead of series leader O'Brien and Mark Francis.

The competitive nature of the championship was highlighted in the finals as the tightly bunched group jostled for position. With cars from both the British and Irish championship mixed together Quinn came off worst as he was hit by British series regular Samantha Thom, who was competing in her last event before moving up to the senior ranks. Thom showed little regard for her now surplus to requirements Mini as she removed Quinn and two other cars from the equation on her way to victory.

Quinns demise left the way open for O'Brien who finished top of the drivers registered for the Irish series. Best of the locals were Leeson and Kinirons who recovered from his poor results in the heats to pick up a good haul of championship points and stay in touch with series leader O'Brien. The remainder of the Jondol Junior Rallycross championship now takes place at Mondello Park over the winter months with the next event on November 2nd and the seven round series finishing in March.