Published Friday, 04 May 2012
Hence becoming this week's blog subject. Unfortunately though, their results were poles apart as they ended their day with two totally different outcomes.
The story started for local businessman Philip Shields when he attended a track day and quickly caught the motorsport bug. Philip then progressed from sportscars to single seaters and has spent the last couple of seasons racing his striking red Formula Master single seater, ironically a car that just looks like a mini Ferrari F1 car.
So things moved on and just over a year ago things went up a notch when Philip bought two GP2 single seaters from isport, with GP2 being the feeder category to Formula One. One of the pleasing aspects to observe was Philips' attitude to his new purchases and this was highlighted through his decision to slowly build-up his experience and acclimatise to the cars rather than just jumping straight in.
This has been achieved through test days at the circuit and by getting first hand advice from five times GP2 winner Adam Carroll, who also did the first shakedown run at a cold Kirkistown last year.
Another nice aspect to this story is that, rather than keeping the cars in storage until the time was right, Philip has more often than not had the GP2 cars sitting out in the paddock, allowing themotorsport fraternity to share in his enthusiasm for the sport and see something that is quite unique to the Irish motor sport scene. Philip has also allowed the cars to make public appearances at local events and further engaged the general public.
So, as it happens, last Saturday was the day for Philip to give one of this GP2 cars its race debut, which he proceeded to do in the 2012 Breezemount Magic Bullet Formula Libre Ireland championship.
This championship 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.
A cool but dry Kirkistown greeted the 11 strong field for the first of 2 races which saw Philip qualifying his 4.0 Dallara Renault on pole for both races with a personal best of 53.39 (101.94).
Unfortunately, as race one drew to a close Philip was tagged after he had overtaken Matheson, spinning out and stalling his car before retiring on the spot at Colonial, giving Matheson the win.
Race two again saw Philip have a captivating tussle with Eamon Matheson who was driving his own self built 1.3t E5, but unfortunately the tables turned and Matheson retired exiting Fisherman's with gearbox problems, which then allowed Philip a comfortable run to the flag and to collect his maiden win and fastest lap 52.989 (102.720).
I don't think there was a more popular winner all-day and when the championship returns on the 26th of May it is predicted that the outright Kirkistown lap record could fall weather permitting as Philip only has to find a further 1.55 sec to break Dan Daly's outright lap record.
So, I just wanted to conclude my blog by giving Kris Meeke a mention as he was also present on Saturday, racing his Kart.
This year his been a huge let down for Kris after signing to drive for Mini in the WRC and then,through no fault of his own, the wheels literally came off the deal, leaving Kris near enough sidelined for the year.
So it was great to see that someone of Kris' international standing being so grounded, when his Kart expired.
Kris managed to roll to a stop at one of the corners furthest away from the paddock leaving him a good ¾'s of a mile to push his kart back to the paddock, which he duly did under his own steam.
Kris' attitude was refreshingly spot-on as we are so often bombarded with images of sportsmen showing their disappointment and displeasure.