Sophie Byrne: Byrning Rubber!
July 11, 2012 by Sophie Byrne
The latest addition to our growing list of motorsport.ie Bloggers is Sophie Byrne. Sophie Races in the Ginetta Junior series as well as being a proven winner in Junior Rallycross. Her father Alan and mother Gill are both experienced racers so as the saying goes, she comes from good stock!!
Qualifying was going well; I took the first three laps easy, just warming up the tyres and the brakes. I had my Mum on pitlane, letting me know my position as I have a lap timer in my car. I was in fifth position for the majority of qualifying, but fell back into sixth within the last two laps, before it was red flagged due to a car which had gone off in Dunlop and was in an unsafe position for us to continue. When we returned to pitlane I was given some great information from Seán Doyle to up my game, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed back out, and I was in 6th position.
It was sunny and dry out, with a light breeze, what I would call deadly weather for racing! I was in sixth position, alongside my teammate Jack Finlay. The grid for race one- in pole position, James Fleming, followed by Jake Byrne, Dylan Curley, Andrew Clarke, Jack Finlay, myself and then James Huddleston. Unfortunately Luke Hourihan couldn’t get out for his races due to the amount of damage to his car. I went for my warm up lap, warming up the brakes and tyres & getting in the zone! As we exited the last corner, I slowly made my way down to my grid position, but there was a bit of a hiccup, and some people got confused as where there were supposed to be. So, another warm up lap for us, not a bad thing We re-gridded, and red lights out, boom! Away we went! I had a good start, getting in front of Jack, but he didn’t get off to a good start and had a lot of catching up to do. I was in fifth position after the first corner. Clarke put a wheel on the grass (going all Rallycross on us, not the first time!)
Coming out of turn two Flipper seemed to have some car trouble, so I over-took him, and headed into the country. At this stage I was in fourth position, and hoping it would stay that way, or get better! My brother Jake put the head down and got a good lead, leaving Curley and Clarke to have a battle of their own, me following behind, not too far in the distance. After a few laps Flipper, working hard, caught up with me. For a good bit of the race he desperately tried to catch up with Clarke and Curly, me, too far away to catch them, but close enough to see them. Flipper eventually got Clarke, and just as he did Clarke had a big sideways moment out of turn one, and Jack, at the same moment, had caught up after his moment from the start and slid up my inside in turn one. Another lap went, and there was still more drama to come-but what girl doesn’t love a bit of drama?! I was on the exit of the last corner, and I saw Flipper have a big moment. He spun and headed for the pit wall, but had a lucky escape, and I sped past him! The race continued, and once again Flipper had the head down and caught me again! I was still ahead as we went into the county, and he gave me a small tap. I held it, and as I glanced in my mirrors saw him pulling off the track. That was the end of his race, but I carried on.
Before I knew it the race had come to the end. It was lonely enough, but I had a great view of all the lads in front having a great race. I seem to own fifth place this year I just worked hard and tried to improve, and had a great time.
Once again, superb weather for racing, and I was determined to do my best, and go up a few positions. After four minutes in assembly, us kiddies we finally allowed out of the play pen, and were going to have some fun. Due to a DNF from Flipper, he ended up in last place, which also happened to Dylan Curly up in Kirkistown earlier in the year. So the final grid was Jake in pole position, followed by Jack, Clarke, Curley, myself and James. So we all gridded up, and for the second time for the Ginetta Juniors, red lights out and we dived off the line. Flipper, obviously wanting to get as far up the pack as possible, was looking up my inside for the first corner, but as any racing driver would, I slammed that door tight! Turn one out of the way, and round to turn two. Flipper, on a serious mission, flew past me on the way to the country, putting me in sixth position. By the country, Flipper was scrambling his way through the pack, and passed crazy Clarke. Another lap gone, still close to the rest, I entered the country, and saw Clarke taking a dive into the gravel, not always an enjoyable time. I was now in fifth, and put the head down and was on my way. The time remaining was diminishing quickly, and Clarke caught up nicely, and dived up my inside into the last corner. As we continued, just after Clarke overtook me, we exited turn two, and I didn’t see what happened to Curly, but he had hit off the barrier presumably, and came shooting across the track. I swerved to the right, a position up again, just to see that red flags were waving everywhere. We re-gridded once again, me being the only girl on the track, with a pink and black car, my sponsors ‘Tengtools’ and ‘Gearboxman’ sparkling on my car. We took off again, Clarke coming from fourth position and Flipper in third. I tucked in behind Flipper as soon as the red lights went out, but when Clarke realised going around the outside wasn’t a good option; he pushed his way in between me and Flipper. Flipper overtook Jack, and throughout the whole race Clarke and Jack had a great, fierce battle. Unfortunately, they were close enough that I could see them, but too far away that I couldn’t get them. The race was great fun though, and I was in fifth place again. Consistent, and enjoyable. Throughout both races I had Seán Doyle waving me on, and my amazing Mum watching me from the Grandstand. I couldn’t do it without either of them. I’m looking forward to the next race, and I hope I get a podium position before the season ends!
Keep checking my blog here on Motorsport.ie for regular updates.
That’s it for now,