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November 02, 2009

Quinn dominates Jondol Junior Rallycross

Naas Teenager Simon Quinn continued his emergence as the star of Junior Rallycross last weekend with dominant victories on either side of the Irish Sea. Quinn finished off his UK championship season with victory on Saturday at Croft before returning to home soil at Mondello Park to take his second win of the year in the Irish championship the following day.

Sunday saw Ireland’s youngest motor racing drivers head once again to Mondello Park for round three of the 2009/10 Jondol Furniture Junior Rallycross Championship. For the second meeting in a row the event began with a record number of starters with fifteen cars taking to the track split into two groups. As usual, grid positions for the finals would be decided over three runs of heats for each group and it was Niall Murray from Tallaght who made the early running taking fastest time from the first run with his Toyota Starlet. Championship favourite Quinn was bumped down to seventh in his first race but recovered well with his Mini to take fourth behind Murray, Micra driver Mark Francis and the Mini of Paul Barrett. The second race was a lights-to-flag win for Paul McArdle in another Micra and the Dundalk youngster had a huge winning margin of seven seconds from the Peugeot of Seamus Curran and Naas driver Sam Kinirons who did extremely well with his Mini to climb to third from seventh on the grid.

The second pair of races resulted in wins for Quinn and the Micra of Andrew Patterson with Quinn taking the overall victory courtesy of a time two seconds faster than Patterson. The Newry driver sneaked into second place ahead of Niall Murray with a big gap back to the reminder of the top six, made up by Barrett, Francis and Kinirons. By the third run Quinn was really into his stride and he led from start to finish again ahead of impressive newcomers Murray and Barrett with the more experienced Mark Francis in fourth. In the other race Patterson also took his second win of the day from Kinirons and McArdle but once again could not match the earlier time of Quinn. With the final heats complete Quinn, Patterson and Murray were once again the top three ahead of Kinirons, McArdle and Barrett.

A strong run in the heats may be important but in Junior Rallycross when it comes to championship points the finals are all that matter. With fifteen entries the grid for the ‘B’ final was full for the first time but the field was quickly reduced due to an incident which required the race to be restarted. On the restart James Fleming, who was sharing the car of Niall Murray took off into the lead and was never troubled. Behind him Carlow’s John Murphy held second until an error on the last lap dropped him down to fourth and last place in the much reduced field. Robert Comerford inherited second with Steffan Schmieder third in an unusually spread out field.

With his ‘B Final’ win, Fleming should have progressed to the ‘A Final’, but as he was sharing the car with front row starter Murray just seven cars made the grid. When the lights changed Quinn made the best of his pole position to lead from a very fast starting Francis who slipped into second from fourth on the grid ahead of Murray. As Quinn motored on into the lead, round two winner Murray, again impressed as he passed the much more experienced Francis for second. At the same time fellow front row starter Patterson was enduring a nightmare race and had dropped back to sixth. Up at the front Quinn again showed his class as he built up a massive winning margin by Junior Rallycross standards to take the flag nearly seven seconds clear of Murray. Murray also drove well to break clear of Francis who finished third but under enormous pressure from Maynooth’s Barrett. Kinirons finished fourth more than fifteen seconds behind the winner with Patterson and McArdle rounding out the results in sixth and seventh.

Quinn’s second win of the season moved him into the championship lead despite him missing round two completely and has now placed himself firmly as the man to beat in the championship chase. The youngster has shown himself to be a real talent in his very short career so far and currently looks unstoppable. His ability was underlined the day before the Irish championship event when he travelled to Croft in the north of England to compete in the final round of the British Open series which he also dominated to add to his impressive win tally since taking up the sport earlier this year.

With the British series now completed Quinn’s attention will turn to securing his first Irish championship in his first full season of competition. The Irish championship continues in two weeks time at Mondello Park before taking a break for the winter months and completing its seven event schedule in February and March.