SEAT Supercup an’Niall’ation at Mondello as moves Murray into series lead
Former Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year Niall Murray returned to the SEAT Supercup Ireland Series at Mondello Park last weekend for the penultimate weekend of the all new series. The former Formula Ford 1600 star has been on the back foot so far this season having missed the opening weekend at Bishopscourt, but the Firhouse man has put himself firmly in the mix with several strong results so far.
Despite having some difficulties during the pre-event test, Niall was the man setting the pace at the top of the time sheets during Sunday morning’s qualifying session. Having been a race winner in the past around Mondello Park’s International Circuit layout, Murray secured his second pole position start of the season for the day’s opening race.
Launching his Murray Motorsport Leon away from the grid as the lights went out, Murray set off on what would become, a lights to flag victory. However despite opening a commanding lead at the head of the field, Niall’s run wasn’t without concern. A braking issue from Friday’s test had raised its head once more, causing Murray considerable concern during the race. Despite being almost three seconds a lap off the pace in the closing minutes of the race, Niall managed to do enough to maintain his lead and take his debut race victory in the SEAT Supercup Ireland series.
Starting from the back of the grid for race two when the reverse grid order had been decided, conditions at the Kildare circuit had considerably worsened. Heavy rain soaked the entire circuit, making race conditions challenging at best. A solid get away at the start allowed Murray to position himself for a move into seventh past then series leader Rod McGovern at turn two. Niall continued his careful charge through the pack to move into fifth before the race was abruptly halted with a red flag. On the restart, Murray’s good start was hampered by the slow starting Brian Berry. Now on a charge to get back with the lead pack, by Calor Gas corner, Niall was applying pressure on McGovern. A brave move around the outside at the Esses into fourth was quickly followed up by a last of the late brakers move into Honda past John Farrelly to move into third.
Next on his shopping list was teammate Erik Holstien. The former ITCC champion wasn’t making it easy for the CL Brakes supported youngster, but a do or die move around the outside at the last corner paid off and promoted him to second. Murray’s biggest challenge was up next, race leader, multiple touring car champion and saloon car expert Michael Cullen was the only person separating him and his second victory of the weekend. The increasingly wet conditions meant that precision was crucial, requiring Niall to make a careful move to take the race lead. Pressuring the race leader into a mistake, a poor exit off Calor Gas corner from Cullen was all Murray needed to dart into the lead of the race. The wet conditions made visibility almost impossible, meaning Murray had push to the end as he was unable to make out if the cars behind him were unassociated ITCC cars or SEAT rivals. It was a picture of professionalism for Murray as he secured his lead and took his second victory of the weekend, promoting him into the series lead.
Niall Murray – #6 Murray Motorsport SEAT Leon Supercupa:
“This weekend has been fantastic, one of my best in Ireland. We had some issues on Friday that came back in race one, but a great job by the team meant we had them sorted for race two. I’ve had to push really hard this season having missed the opening rounds in Bishopscourt, so it’s great to finally move into the lead of the series with just one weekend left in Kirkistown. Thanks so much to Murray Motorsport, CL Brakes and P1 : Digital for their ongoing support, hopefully I can finish the job off next weekend!”