Vee Festival Fiesta Blog- with Barry Rabbitt.
July 17, 2014 by Barry Rabbitt
I’ve been a big fan of the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta championship since its inception, I started racing in a similar series, the Fiat Uno Championship and always felt it was a great way to learn the art of racing cars. So when I was approached by John Woods from Blackchurch Motors to drive their car for the remainder of the season I didn’t take much convincing. The series is extremely competitive and I knew I would need to have the best equipment to have any chance. Luckily, Blackchurch Motors are a Ford service and tuning specialist garage and have all the know how and facilities to put together a top class car which is what they’ve done.
The car I drove at the weekend was actually the teams second car which John himself normally drives but he offered it to me after a slight issue with mine on Friday testing. So the first time I got to drive it was in qualifying on the Saturday morning. It was a wet session which suited me as I felt it would level the playing field somewhat. With no lap-timer in the car I had no idea where I was on the grid as I scrabbled around looking for grip but somehow Sean Doyle, who was standing on the pit wall, managed to decipher my hand waving and started showing me my positions which was a God send. I was P3 with about 5 minutes to go and was very conscious to make sure to stay on track right until the end of the session as that was likely to be when the track was going to be at it’s driest. On my last lap I pushed on a bit harder and managed to get pole by over half a second from championship leader Sean Lillis. I must admit to being a bit surprised by the margin as I was held up by a spinning car on that last lap and Lillis is normally comfortably quicker than everyone in the dry. Due to the amount of cars in the series – there was 40 this time – qualifying was split into two sessions and with the track drying I was sure I’d get shuffled down the order. In the end though it was only Colly Barrable who managed to better my time in the second session so I would line up P2 for both races.
In Saturday’s race I got a good start and managed to lead Colly into the first corner, Colly knows how to race so he didn’t attack me for the first few laps as we tried to get away from the pack who were making their way forward headed by Lillis who, now that it was dry, was able to power onto the back of me and Colly. He quickly despatched Colly and I managed to hold him off for a few laps but Colly made a good opportunistic move at Dunlop as I was defending from Lillis and did the both of us. With me under attack from Lillis Colly pulled away. Meanwhile I was doing my utmost to keep Lillis behind but when it became a drag race down the straight I had no answer as he powered on by me. None the less a podium first time out wasn’t a bad result.
Sunday’s race saw myself and Colly on the front row again. I got a good start but wasn’t far enough ahead to close the door into turn one so Colly led and immediately I was being attacked by Lillis again. I felt I had the pace to get ahead of Colly and tried a few moves but I couldn’t properly attack with Lillis on my tail. It was a fraught race but ultimately I was able to hold him off until he made a no hope lunge at Ford corner which luckily I seen coming and was able to get out of the way as he slid up the inside and into the gravel trap. That released Pat Boland onto my tail and for the remainder of the race I had to drive very defensively to keep him behind which I managed to do and I have to say he drove very cleanly and never once hit the back of my car – even though he probably had every right as I was purposely slowing up at the apexes to ensure he didn’t get the cut back.
All in all a great debut for myself in the championship and I’m looking forward to the next day and maybe some testing before then to try get on the outright dry pace. Thanks to Blackchurch Motors for offering me the drive – they have full rolling road and tuning facilities and are based just off the N7 at Rathcoole.