Motormouth’s 2013 BIG PREVIEW!
March 12, 2013 by Leo
Well that’s January & February out of the way- and we are a little bit closer to the start of another racing season. There are some exciting times coming too with a few new classes starting up.
The Strykers have launched a new website www.irishstrykers.ie and have also become far more active on social media. There must be a few of these cars lying around for reasonable money so the classified section will be worth keeping an eye on. Alan Watkins has become the class act in this class of late and will start as the undoubted title favourite. He won’t have it all his own way though as Alan Auerbach and Dave Griffin both showed flashes of Watkins-challenging pace in 2012 and should be back for more. Auerbach has made a name for himself in autotesting circles (pun intended) lately, whilst young Griffin and his #TeamDG crew are better known in local watering holes and nightclubs than other motorsport arenas! There are a few reasonably priced Strykers in the classified section on this site and the class are keen to help new drivers so they could have a few newbies on the grid before race one!
More info: http://www.irishstrykers.ie
ITCC has been the success story of Irish motor racing in recent years, bringing many new drivers to the sport and panel bashing tin top racing to the circuits at the same time. for 2013 they will add a third class to their oddly named Supertouring and Touring divisions- the Stock Hatch class.
This should attract some of the new-ish 16v Stock Rallycross class contenders to have a go, as the Saxo/106 16v seems to be the weapon of choice here. There will also be a chance for the older 8v 1600 205 to shine though, as it will enjoy a lower weight limit in order to make it competitive.In the Supertouring class, Erik Holstein and Phil Brennan’s E36 M3s will be joined by Dave O’Brien’s newly built WTCC style E46 model. We know Barry Rabbitt has been round the National Circuit in under the magic minute in his CRX but in his absence, will any of the Honda boys be able to stop the Bavarian machines from total dominance?! Series organiser Brian Sexton has obviously not learnt from his innovative Honda powered Nissan as he has abandoned that one but instead is embarking on a complete rebuild, if not re-engineering, of a Lexus, this will also be Honda powered and Brian is hopeful of challenging for outright wins. The series retains support from Yokohama via Murray Motorsport as in 2012.
More info: http://www.itcc.ie
Much has been made of the new for 2013 Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta Zetec Series lately and it certainly seems destined for success judging by the incredible levels of initial interest. The regulations match those of the Kirkistown based series but there will be very strict policing of these, with the organisers holding a stock of control parts, which they will fit to competitors’ cars at each round. These will include wishbones, shocks, even engine and gearboxes. The series will run over 10 races at 5 Mondello meetings but the fact that the regs are in line with our Northern
friends means that competitors can go to Kirkistown and do a race anytime they like. it also leaves the door open for a Festival type event towards the end of the year perhaps, and maybe even a trip across the water?! Initial reports would suggest that you can actually have a car on the track for under the €2,000 mark and with nothing adjustable on the cars, development and testing costs should be minimal. Already, the series has attracted some well known names,as well as a plethora of newcomers and even the occasional karter. I have bought a fully prepared NI car, but I honestly think I would rather commentate than compete- I must be getting old! Hard to know who will be quick in this one but Shane Roe’s name keeps coming up- a son of the legendary Michael, he has gone well at Mondello before, winning a fund raiser competition in 2012. Barry Hallion and Barry-John McHenry are also mooted to turn out and both are proven winners- but the recent test day showed that some of the novices are are also pretty quick so it is anyone’s call!
More info: http://www.mondello.ie/fiesta
Trevor Gray has stepped down from his position as chairman of Irish Formula Vee and is now concentrating on his position on the MI race committee. he has been replaced by John Downey and the class are working on a new website and some new promotions to attract new competitors. Whilst it is not cheap to compete at the sharp end in Vees, it is extremely cost effective to start in- and the beauty is that the chassis have not really developed over the years so you can add to your car as you can afford it, like a real life video game, without having to change car! It is possible to buy a good starter car for around the €3,000 mark, easily the cheapest single seater class about. There was talk of pace setters Ray Moore and Lee Newsome taking sabaticals this year but the latest paddock whispers would suggest that Moore, at least will be on the grid. There is also talk of IKC Gearbox karter
James O’Keefe running in Newsome’s dominant Sheane- if this materialises it will be very interesting, he may throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Dan Polley is back in the LOH run Sheane and seems very positive about the forthcoming season. Remember he was the only one to hold a candle to Moore a few years ago- if he can regain that form he will be one to watch. Kevin Grogan found his feet in 2012 and should also be one to watch in his Ivan Casey run Leastone. Stephen Kershaw is another former front runner in this class and is coming back out with a secret brand new car- again could spring a surprise. Others like Dave O’Brien and Adam McAuley have proven pace and are back for more in 2013 too. one thing is for sure- there won’t be any easy wins in Vees this year!
More info: http://www.formulavee.ie
Formula Sheane was the class everyone was talking about in 2012. Fom the brink of extinction, they arrived into the season with more cars, far better presentation and a better image overall culminating in them being awarded the Leinster Trophy. In 2013, most of the drivers are back for another go. Kevin Sheane Jnr will doubtless be keen to regain the title he lost to Brian Hearty, whereas Robbie Allen’s late season form would suggest he can challenge both for the title! No news yet on the Motorsport.ie car, driven to runner up spot in the Leinster Trophy by Barry Rabbitt but sources suggest it is undergoing a total rebuild and an announcement is iminent. They had over 20 cars on more than once occasion last year and initial signs are that they will continue where they left off for 2013. In fact the only thing stopping them from increasing grid sizes seems to be a shortage of cars, so if you know of one for sale, post it up in our free ads section here asap!
More info: http://www.formulasheane.ie
The HRCA committee have bitten the bullet and made the brave move of banning slicks from their grids this year. slicks were never allowed but the use of an invitation class, which it has to be said worked well to attract cars which were “within the spirit of the regulations”, allowed some slick shod machines to race. It is always tough to stand firm on something like this, but that said, it was completely unfair for some competitors to enjoy a benefit of probably a couple of seconds a lap over the rest. There is talk of a new class for Midgets and Sprites starting within the HRCA and that should go well, with the emphasis being on the steel bodied cars as opposed to the spaceframe ex GT cars which also run with the HRCA.
More info: http://www.hrca.ie
Reigning Formula Libre Ireland champion Martin Daly returns in his Formula Renault to defend his crown and will have a lot more familiar opposition this year. Fergus O Flaherty impressed many with his performances over the second half of last year. They will be joined by 3
rookies in Formula Renault Machinery. Ginnetta Junior graduate Megan Kessie in her ASK Racing machine, ex ITCC driver Cian Carey, and nephew of Magic Bullet’s Stanley Watson, Jonathon Babbs, have all been testing their Formula Renaults and will be seen on the Formula Libre grid this year. Other newcomers in the smaller class will be ex FF1600 stalwart John Stewart in a GEM Mk.2 “ with a 1000cc Yamaha, and Michael Larkin in a Leastone.
The big car class should see the renewal of last year’s battles with Philip Shields in the Breezemount Motorsport GP2 car hoping to continue the form he showed in the final races of 2012. Eamon Matheson will return in his green Ninja, fully rebuilt over the winter, John Daly, Stanley Watson, and Eugene Heary Senior will be joined in the big car class by the returning Donal Griffin and Aidan Bagnall. Expect to see some other new cars in the big class, including the return of some familiar names from the past.
More info: http://www.formulalibreireland.ie/
Mondello Park have announced that they will run a GT class at three meetings in 2013. This should bring the Porsches and former Dunlop
Supercars back to Mondello tarmac, all going well. Since the announcement, a number of the zetec engined spaceframed chassis Supercars have already changed hands and we know of at least 6 others which have been lying up. There are a few other cars which will slot into the class too including Ginettas and possibly even some of the Mitsubishi Evos which are not eligible for ITCC any more. There will be two driver races, possbily a handicap system in some races and a number of other novel ideas designed to make the races more exciting for competitors and spectators alike.
Seasoned campaigners Paul Dalton and Aidan Byrne have joined forces to set up the new Future Classics class. This allows cars from the 70′s and 80′s to race, in pretty much standard form. Dalton’s 128 SL and Byrne’s ex UK Fiat Challenge Uno should be joined by some similar
machines along with the odd 205 and the like. This promises to be interesting and eclectic class if it does take off. The rules may need a rethink though, as a barrier time of 1:09.5 is likely to be broken by 205s and 1400 Puntos with relative ease, even with extra weight. Incredibly, the organisers have also decided to exclude any drivers who have “won a race at Mondello Park since 2007” and also have said that they are banning pit signalling to stop competitors from sandbagging. So does that mean if you win the first race, you can’t do the second one?! Cue Benny Hill music lads………