Martin Donnelly Trophy Blog- with Jonny McMullan
October 1, 2013 by Jonny McMullan
Since my victory at the Holmpatrick Trophy at Mondello there hasn’t been much time before the Irish Formula Ford Festival for the prestigious Martin Donnelly Trophy! With everyone eager to win the prestigious trophy there was some tough competition on the entry list to spice things up for a great final! On the entry list very fast drivers such as Noel Robinson, Patrick McKenna, John Ferguson and a very quick English driver Oliver White made a rare appearance to make things more interesting! Testing started on the Friday and it was hard to gauge who was quick with so many drivers being around the similar time! Unfortunately for us with tyres and braking issues hindered our track time as we were in and out of the pits a lot trying to sort the issue with the car into Colonial 1 and the hairpin! Fortunately for us for the last session we put on our race tyres and the change of a disc found us around 6 tenths! On the last session the pace was a 61.5 and I did two of them in a row so I knew I was on the pace thankfully! This put me in a good mindset going into qualifying for the Martin Donnelly Trophy!
Unlucky as usual for me I got the toughest heat draw, before qualifying I had a feeling any 7 could have been quick enough to put there car on pole if they got their best lap hooked up! Qualifying came on Saturday morning and I was in heat one, I got out first and tried to get my head down and put the best lap in that I could, I was on p2 for most of the qualifying but started to fall back. I was struggling a lot around the bottom of the circuit with turn in oversteer and especially through the chicane which was affecting my run down the back straight. Best time I could do was a 61.5 which put me p5 on the grid. I knew for the race if we could get the car sorted round the bottom we could make ground up the grid! The Heat came and I knew I needed a good start to get away with Noel Dunne and Kevin O’Hara, that I did and into turn one I was in p3 in behind the two leaders. The car was mega round the bottom and the three of us were able to pull away from the rest of the bunch and have our own little scrap for the lead. I sat there for half the race to see if anything was going to happen in front but nothing did so I knew I needed to make my move. Last corner last lap I went down the inside of Dunne into the hairpin but a drag race to the finish line had me finish p3 in the race and meant I would be starting p6 for the Martin Donnelly Trophy Final! I had fastest lap in my heat so I knew the pace was there to fight for top honours in the final. The final came and I knew it was going to be a tough race with any of 8 people quick enough to win. I got off to a great start and into 5th but got squeezed wide at turn one and went back to sixth. There was a train of six of us for the lead! Out of the hairpin after six laps there was a bit of contact and McCullough fell from 2nd – 6th and I moved up to fifth! I knew I needed to get a move on so I got past Murray and Smyth into third and tried to chase down the two leaders! Unfortunately a bit of squabbling for third made the gap too big to catch the two leaders. Into the chicane around mid race, Dunne spun on his own water after his radiator started to leak. This moved me up to second but O’Hara was too far ahead and now the race was on for second. Lap after lap there was constant passing between myself, Murray and Smyth for second. I made a move back for second with two laps to go and was able to settle for second place in the final! (Unfortunately for third year in a row!) I was happy with the end result after a tough qualifying making it hard for ourselves but with plenty of passing we made it onto the podium!
Looking back at the month of September it has been a very good month for the NI Radiator Services Mondiale with a fourth, Holmpatrick Trophy winner at Mondello then a second place at the Martin Donnelly Trophy.
Next up for us Is the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, I’m looking forward to this as our pace was very good last year just a bad day at the office cost us of a good result after qualifying on the front row for our heat.
Big thanks to NI Radiator Services, Dawson Wam, Dark Horse, John Harris, Mum and Dad!