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November 17, 2009

Quinn is Top of the Junior Rallycross Again

The biggest ever field for a round of the Jondol Junior Rallycross championship lined up at Mondello Park on Sunday, but despite the increased competition it was Naas racer Simon Quinn who once again proved to be the class of the field. The fourteen year old, one of the youngest drivers in the championship, won all four of his races to take his third outright win from three starts this season and finish 2009 on a high.

With sixteen drivers lining up for the heats, for the first time there would not only be a capacity grid for the 'B Final' but also one driver would not make it through to the finals at all. With the larger entry the Junior heats needed to be run in three groups and it was Tallaght's Niall Murray with his Starlet who set the pace in group one. Quinn won the second race with a time four seconds quicker than Murray's to take the lead and then had to wait while Northern Irish visitor Andrew Patterson, back in his Mini after a number of events driving a Micra, took victory in the third race. When all three heats were run the order was Quinn quickest ahead of Murray, Newry's Mark Francis (Micra) and Maynooth's Paul Barrett (Mini), with Patterson's time only good enough for fifth.

In the second round of heat's Barrett drove well to win the first race from third on the grid setting a time quick enough for third place. Quinn came from behind in the second race to beat Francis and both drivers were fast enough to eclipse Barrett. Another impressive drive from Patterson in the third race saw him move from fifth on the grid through to third place early on, before passing two more cars on the final lap to take his second win of the day. Patterson's time however was once again only good enough for fifth. Naas resident Sam Kinirons, who had retired from the first heat took fourth place with his Mini to boost his hopes of overcoming his non-finish and qualifying for the 'A' Final.

The first race of the third heat saw Barrett add another win to his tally, but only just, as he was less than a second ahead of Murray at the line. Barrett set his quickest time of the day on his way to victory, four seconds better than his previous best, but in the second race the flying Quinn took advantage of a clear track ahead of him to beat that time by a hugely impressive five seconds. With Patterson missing form the grid in race three, Meath man Michael Cahill, who had followed him home in two earlier races, took his first win of the day and sixth place in the times. Ahead of him were Quinn, Barrett, Murray, Francis & Kinirons.

The 'B' Final battle which would decide the last place on the 'A' Final grid, got off to a bad start when two separate incidents on the first lap led to a red flag. The restart looked like it could have been heading the same way as Aaron Clarke and James Fleming then set about each other on the way to turn two. Clarke came off worst in the incident getting stuck on the grass but the Marshals got him going again to keep the race alive. The remainder of the race was unusually processional apart from Clarke's recovery drive which saw him snatch seventh place on the last lap. The remainder of the order was static from lap one and it was Paul McArdle who took the win and progressed into the main event.

Despite the drivers best efforts and some close racing on lap one, the 'A' Final was also very processional. At the front Quinn led away from pole and set fastest lap after fastest lap on his way to a huge winning margin of five and a half seconds. Mark Francis and Paul Barrett filled the podium positions ahead of round two winner Niall Murray as all three circulated close together but without any serious challenges materialising. Quinn now heads the standings with three maximum scores ahead of a tightly grouped pack made up of Barrett, Patterson, Murray and Francis. The championship now takes a break until early 2010, with the remaining three races being decided during February and March.