Triple win for Team Ireland at Navarra
May 6, 2014 by Leo Nulty
Ireland continued their excellent start in the newly formed Acceleration 14 Series scoring another strong haul of points which included 3 victories at Navarra race circuit in Northern Spain. The team was once again represented by Niki Meredith in the Legend Supercup and Eoin Murray who was joined by Michael Devaney for this event in the MW-V6 Pickup series.
The weekend started with good promise after the first 30 minute free practice session where Murray & Devaney topped the MW-V6 time sheets and Meredith finished third quickest in the Legends; an impressive start from all three drivers on a circuit new to them which was populated by many local Spanish drivers. Devaney’s performance was especially impressive as he had not been in a race car since British F3 in 2005.
Murray had a fantastic performance in qualifying, taking pole position in both the qualifying sessions by a comfortable margin of almost one second in Q1. Devaney was unable to transform his strong pace from practice to qualifying as he suffered from a lack of balance with the new 18” slick tyres. He would line up 4th for race 1 and 5th for race 2. This was an excellent job from the pair considering the strong calibre of drivers in the field.
Race 1 would see a fantastic start from Devaney to grab the lead ahead of Murray in Turn 1 but unfortunately Devaney
drifted wide at Turn 2 and dropped down the order. Murray took the lead and controlled the race from the front to take his second win of the series and setting the fastest lap in the process. Devaney managed to fight back to fifth position showing strong pace in the closing stages of the race. Race 2 saw another comfortable victory for Murray as he lead the entire race; setting the fastest lap and was able to control his lead and look after the tyres ahead of the final race. Devaney retired in the closing stages while battling for fourth position with a gearbox failure.
Race 3 saw the top 8 drivers reversed so Murray would start from eight position. A strong opening lap saw Murray move to forth position but unfortunately Devaney would retire early in the opening lap with a gear selection problem at this point while in third position. An intense battle ensued at the front of the field with Netherland’s driver Danny Van Dongen, Sweed Alx Danielsson, Spain’s Mikel Azcona Troyas and Murray at the back of the group. One by one Murray picked his way through to the front of the pack and took the lead with 8 minutes to go. At this point Murray pushed for fastest lap to gain bonus points for the championship which he now leads by 30 points.
After the event Murray commented “This has been a perfect weekend for me, 2 pole positions, 3 wins & 3 fastest laps; I couldn’t ask for any more. The circuit clicked with me and I felt really comfortable in the car. I am now leading the series but we only had a deal for the opening two events. I’ll have my fingers crossed for the next few weeks hoping I can make the next event at Nurburgring!”.
Devaney comments: “I was happy to be close to the pace in the first session having not sat in a race car for 5 years. Unfortunately I was still a bit rusty on our new tyre run in Q1 but we got close to the pace in the first race after locking up into the first corner while leading and dropping back. Unfortunately we had gearbox problems in race 2 and 3 but overall I really enjoyed being back in a race car.”
In the Legends Supercup Meredith started from 2nd and 1st for the two races on Saturday. Race 1 Meredith and Spain’s Daniel Campos Hull pulled away from the rest of the grid. Meredith led most of the race until the second-last lap when Campos Hull passed him and the two swapped positions several times. Due to being side-by-side coming on to the last lap
Meredith failed to see the last lap board held out by the team and not realising it was the last lap didn’t see the chequered flag until they entered the finish straight. He tried to overtake but was half a car length too short and had to settle for second. Georgia’s Davit Kajaia came in third.
Race 2 on Saturday Meredith again worked with Campos Hull to pull away from the rest of the grid. This time when he saw the last lap board he overtook Campos into the 1st corner to take the lead. Campos got him back on turn 4, but confident he could out-run the Spainish driver to the line Meredith waited for his opportunity to grab the lead. Unfortunately Meredith made a minor error on the last corner and didn’t get the run needed off the last corner. The pair crossed the line side-by-side, with Campos taking the win by 0.02 of a second.
Sunday’s races are top 8 reversed from the results of Saturday so Meredith lined up 7th for both races. Working his way up to 4th on the first lap he was battling with Great Britain’s James Holman. Holman unfortunately spun on lap 4 and Meredith had to go off the circuit to avoid him. This dropped him back to 7th. He was able to make it back to 6th, but the rest of the field was too far ahead at that stage. Race 4 started in similar fashion with Meredith up to 4th by the end of the 1st lap. This time he was working with Campos again to try and catch the leader Davit Kajaia. The two were making some ground but a small mistake from Campos slowed the pair enough for the USA driver to catch them. The three drivers battled it out for a further 2 laps until Meredith’s engine seized and put a premature end to his race.
Commenting on the weekend Meredith had this to say; “It was a weekend of mixed fortunes. I knew after Portimao that we had the pace to win, but luck just wasn’t on our side. In Race 1 I was gutted when I saw the chequered flag because I didn’t know we had been on the last lap. I had the speed off the last corner to get him to the line. In Race 2 I made sure I was able to see the pitboard every lap towards the end of the race. I didn’t want to lead coming off the last corner so I waited to make by move. I got a bit of oversteer mid corner and lost a car-length and it was enough for him to stay ahead crossing the line. It was so close! Sunday didn’t go our way at all. The car was quick, but we just got unlucky again.”
The Irish Team initially only had a deal for the first two rounds of the series, so they’re working hard to put together a package for the next round in the Nurburgring (Germany) later in the month. “We’ve a lot of work to do in the next 2 weeks to find the budget for the team, but we’ll do our best to make sure Ireland are on the grid in Germany” says Ed Meredith – Irish Team Manager.
The Acceleration 14 events will be aired on BT Sport and Motors TV in highlight shows in the coming weeks. For more information visit www.acceleration14.com.