Published Tuesday, 16 October 2012
In turn, they're giving their fans and the sport something to cheer about in these times of economic gloom.
At the moment we have talent across the world to be proud of with a "Kane" globetrotting in the WEC and another in the states, Buller is off to Macau, Lyons is big in Japan and soon going down under. Mullen picks up a Spanish 24hr victory, Rea gets a taste of Moto GP, Cronin becomes 3 times British rally champ and Breen turns adversity into a title challenge.
Adding to the mix, Ulster motorsport stars Martin Donnelly and Jeremy McWilliams joined Irish ex F1 Grand Prix driver Derek Daly at September's Goodwood Revival, the most prestigious historic race meeting in the world. The two D's made their Revival debuts, while McWilliams defended his Barry Sheene Memorial Title.
Some of this positivity shone brightly onto our local racing scene at October's Martin Donnelly Trophy meeting with one of the main headlines of the day falling to Portadown teenager James Turkington who, in his maiden racing season, was crowned 2012 Ford Fiesta Zetec Cup Champion which has held all its rounds at Kirkistown race circuit. When the 18 year old A level student made his motor racing debut last March nobody could foresee the dominant display that was to follow, as he went on to sweep any competition aside and win every single round. James became the latest generation of the Turkington clan to enter the sport with older brother Colin, himself winning the UK Fiesta Championship in 2001 on the way to his 2009 BTCC title.
It was also great to hear such positive thoughts from James as he commented "as you know this was my first seasons racing and I wouldn't have dreamed that we would have been able to win the championship at the start of the year. I have to say I really enjoyed all of the races and the close competitiveness between all the competitors. I would like to thank Roy Smyth for coming up with the initiative of setting up a new one-make budget series, which has great potential to grow in years to come."
"If this class was never formed, myself and many of the other competitors would never have had the opportunity to race at Kirkistown. Of course, it is great boost and help to receive some tips from my two brothers Gary and Colin, as in one make series all the little things add up to make the difference. Its been a great season's racing at Kirkistown, and I would like to thank everyone involved there for the work they put in as well as my family and friends who have dedicated their time to me and helped me to win this championship for all of us."
Surprisingly, prior to to this season James had only took part in trackdays but quickly mastered the very standard 1250cc Zetec-engined Fiestas which were produced from 1995 to 2001. All the cars on the grid were standard apart from all the usual essential safety equipment, with the aim of getting participants on the grid of around £1500 to £2000.
On the other end of the speed scale was Dromore racing driver Philip Shields who drove his ex i-Sport GP2 single seater Dallara to a new Kirkistown Race Circuit outright lap record. The large crowd witnessed Philip set a new benchmark of 51.11s breaking Irishman Dan Daly's previous best of 51.43s.
The popular businessman was competing in the last 2 rounds of the 2012 Breezemount Magic Bullet Formula Libre Ireland Championship which allows the fastest racing cars in Ireland to compete against each other in a category that is free of all technical regulations and is just split into the two classes based on engine capacity, unlimited and under 2 litre. Both classes race together in one race and have equal status in the championship and couldn't be further away from James' Fiesta.
Philip started of the day by taking two pole positions which added to the air of expectation that the circuit lap record could be broken. This was duly delivered in race one with the new record holder going on to win race two in a somewhat more relaxed fashion, safe in the knowledge that he had become the first driver to lap the 1.5 mile Co Down venue at an average speed of 106mph. Shield's 580 bhp single seater was originally designed and raced as a feeder category to Formula One and after a year of testing and acclimatisation Shields took his GP2 car to its maiden win at round 2 of the championship back in April at Kirkistown.
Philip commented afterwards "I'm delighted with the wins and lap record. It would not have been possible without the efforts of the team. We have been working on the car from the last outing, its still not the finished article but it will be work in progress over the winter. I have been working closely with Richard Lyons over the past months. His role with the team is to help make the car more compliant to what we are doing and develop my skills as a driver. As you can appreciate, the GP2 car is a highly tuned and advanced machine, not easy to run or drive but I feel we are making progress and we will make big gains over the next few months."
Images courtesy of Thornpics & Racelinephotography
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