After the winter break circuit racing made its welcome return to Mondello Park on Sunday March 13th, featuring the opening round of the 2016 MicksGarge.com Future Classics Championship. With no fewer than 21 cars entered Future Classics had one of the largest entry lists of the weekend. A tough test day on Saturday unfortunately knocked a few out of the race, with the former Formula Vee family pairing of Ger & Jack Byrne both having issues. Ger unfortunately had a heavy off in his newly acquired BWM 323 and Jack had a mechanical issue in his Peugeot 205 previously owned by Ken Byrne. Paul McLoughlin also had mechanical issues in his Mark 2 VW Golf with the engine deciding it’s had enough and gave up the ghost. Thankfully for Paul however, Robbie Parks came to his aide and managed to repair a ball joint for his 2015 race winning Toyota Celica in record time and Paul was able to take to the track on Sunday.

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Sunday Morning came and we had a number of new drivers and cars as well as some familiar friendly faces in the paddock. New faces for 2016 include Adrian Dunne in his nippy little Citroen Saxo, Marty Moore in his Honda Civic which was home built over the winter – (click here to read the build thread on this car), Jimmy Kilbride in his Peugeot 106 which was only finished at the 11th hour and the former formula vee racer John Downey. In his Peugeot 205.

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There has also been a number of car changes for 2016. Aidan Byrne has purchased the road legal Vauxhaul Chevette off his brother Gary and will race that for the season. Tommy Byrne is now driving the Fiat Punto driven by Aidan last year, and the 4th brother Ken is now driving an MG Maestro. 2015 series winner Ian Thornton has semi-­retired his Mark 1 Golf and has recently purchased a Fiat Punto to try retain his title with. After his debut year in a 205 last year, William Tighe has now acquired a 306 which as always has been wonderfully prepared by Kevin Gillespie and his GRRR team. Darren McAnernin who had a few unsuccessful trips in his Ford Sierra over the last two seasons has now built up a Peugeot 205. And last of the car changes for round 1 was Robbie Parks who has purchased a Mitsubishi FTO built towards the end of 2015 by Darran O’Hara, who coincidentally also built up Robbie’s Celica that he raced in 2015.

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Sticking to their setups from 2015 was Timmy Duggan in his Seat Ibiza ex works rally car, Dennis Brennan in his Fiat Punto, 2015 runner up David Hammond in his giant killing Fiat Uno SX, Mike Dermody in his Fiat Punto, Brendan Travers also in a Fiat Punto, and Paddy Lucey in his Fiat Uno. MJ Farrell was unable to tog out for this round, but the Formula Sheane and former Punto Abarth driver Richard Kearney took MJ’s car out for a spin.

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So Sunday Morning and all cars through the scrutineering it was onto the track for qualifying and it was Richard Kearney that topped the timing sheets after no fewer than 5 cars broke the barrier time, Robbie Parks, Adrian Dunne, William Tighe, David Hammond & Ian Thornton, all of whom drop to the back of the grid. Joining Richard on the first row Aidan Byrne with Marty Moore and Dennis Brennan on row 2, and Paul McLoughlin and Timmy Duggan on row 3.

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After the lunch break it was down to the main event and the 19 cars lined up on the grid to take the start. At the start it was Kearney that and Duggan that made the best of the starts up front. Kearney pulled away ahead of Aidan Byrne off the front row, while Duggan’s mighty Seat made a rocket of a stat from 6th place to follow Kearney into turn 1 in 1st and 2nd spots. Kearney however made a slight mistake on the exit and a bit of a tankslapper allowed Duggan to take the lead and Moore to get 2nd place before turn 2. At the back of the grid the faster cars penalised by breaking the barrier time in qualifying started flying up through the pack. The race ended at turn 1 however for Ken Byrne in his MG Maestro after what turned out to be a broken front brake disc left him beached in the gravel. Thornton, Hammond, Dunne & Parks continued their charge through the field until at the final corner the safety car boards came out as the MG was proving a struggle to remove from the gravel. Unfortunately, the charging Saxo of Adrian Dunne didn’t see the flags and safety car, a rookie error which would come back to haunt him before the end of the day.

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When the lights went out on the safety car Duggan baked up the pack before flooring it up the hill to the final corner, with Marty Moore and Richard Kearney in close proximity. Adrian Dunne and Robbie Parks continued their charge, picking off the pack one by one. Some fantastic battles throughout the entire pack for the entire race has become the norm for Future Classics racing over the last few seasons and todays race was no different. None more important than the battle at the top of the field where Duggan was driving hard to hold off Moore who in turn was battling to hold off Kearney who was out make amends for his mistake at the first corner on lap 1. Kearney made a move down the inside of the main straight on lap 5 and made the move stick into turn 1 to get back to 2nd place. Less than 1 second covered the top 4 at this stage with Aidan Byrne in the Chevette making up the quartet.

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By the end of lap 6 Adrian Dunne had caught up this bunch making it a 5 way battle for the podium places. The Saxo with its incredible straight line speed made a move down the outside of Byrne on the main straight and under breaking Byrne got held up by Moore’s Civic and Dunne was up to 4th place. With 2 laps to go Moore made his move on Kearney, taking him on the exit of turn 3. Dunne then soon followed Moore past Kearney, using the raw power of the Saxo to take him on the main straight. So onto the last lap and Duggan held off the Civic and Saxo to take the victory, followed across the line by Moore, Dunne, Kearney, Parks, Aidan Byrne, Brennan, Tommy Byrne, Tighe and Thornton rounding out the top 10. Dunne however had a date with the stewards for his mistake overtaking under the safety car and he was handed a 4 place penalty by them in a first race he won’t forget for a long time. Lap Time Barrier Penalties were also awarded to Parks, Tighe & Thornton for breaking the 1min 09sec time barrier. Full race results and championship positions are available on the Future Classics website.

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Rounds 2 & 3 Preview

After such an exciting start to 2016, we are already looking forward to Rounds 2 & 3 which take place on the 17th April. We are hopefully looking forward to an even bigger grid with Eoghan O’Brien currently building a sister car to his buddy Marty Moore’s Civic. Eoghan had a bit of a mishap during a track day blowing the engine of his Punto leaving him absent from Round 1. But after a shopping trip that started off looking for an engine he ended up buying a Civic so all going to plan Eoghan will be on the grid in the 17th. The guys have also found the time to do some filming during the build and have edited this quick teaser video:

Also another new car still to make an appearance is the freshly built Toyota Corolla of father and son pair Gary & Daniel Byrne. We aren’t sure yet which of them will take to the track but we hope to see one of them out for the next round.

A new driver for 2016 in the class will be William Kellett, son of Allister who most around the Mondello Paddock will know. William has been racing in junior rallycross but is making the move to circuit racing for 2016, after his 16th birthday that is, which didn’t come quick enough for round 1. William will be driving a Nissan Micra. We’ll have a build post on the Micra very shortly, here’s a shot William sent us of the car just after a fresh coat of paint.received_1054263584596408

Another new driver who hopes to be out for rounds 2 & 3 is Robert Fox who will be driving a Fiat Uno. This will be Roberts first adventure in a race having completed a number of track and test days recently. Hopefully Ger & Jack Byrne will also get their BMW and Peugeot 205 back up and running in time for April. We also hope a few old faces from last season, Mick Walshe in his Mk 2 VW Golf and Oliver Devlin, David McNally and MJ Farrell in their Fiat Puntos will all be out with us next round. We’ve also had contact from a few more looking to get on the track, including a mini and another civic to name but a few so hopefully we’ll see a few of these on the track before the end of the season.

We would also like to wish former future classics driver Eddie Kinirons who did two seasons with us all the best in his new challenge competing with the ITCC boys. Your spot will be here if you ever fancy another round or 2 with us. And finally any thanks as always the Marshalls, Race Officials and all at MPSC for organising the race day. Also a huge thanks to MicksGarage.com our sponsor for being there ongoing vital support and for being there on the day. Don’t forget for further information visit www.futureclassics.eu , email us on at futureclassicsracing@gmail.com or on Facebook at “MicksGarage.com Future Classics Racing”.