Eurocup winner to challenge SEAT Supercup regulars at Bishopscourt
The SEAT Supercup Ireland travels to the Bishopscourt Racing Circuit in Co. Down this Sunday (8th May) with drivers relishing the prospects of enjoying the full benefits of the 301Bhp Leon Supercopa’s aero package. In contrast to the season opener on the short and tight national circuit at Mondello Park, the high speed Bishopscourt circuit will utilise all the strenghts of the SEAT Sport built cars setting the stage for an exciting Round 3 & 4 of the Yokohama backed championship. While reigning champion Niall Murray dominated Rounds 1 & 2 last month in a one off outings, once again it is a Murray who is widely tipped to set the pace. The older brother of Niall, Eoin Murray will take over driving duties of the No.1 Fish Graphics backed Leon and the Dubliner brings with him more SEAT race experience than the entire grid combined. A former brand ambassador for SEAT Ireland, Murray has amased an impressive Supercopa CV having been a title contender in SEAT Leon Eurocup in both 2008 and 2010, spent 2009 racing & winning in the highly competitive Spanish Championship as well as doing selected rounds of the Italian SEAT Leon Championship in 2011. Despite his vast knowledge of the car, one thing the former Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year has not done before is race at Bishopscourt and that is something his rivals will be hoping to take advantage of.
One of this year’s title favourites and effectively the current championship leader as Niall Murray will take no further part, Erik Holstein is familiar with the 2.9 km long track and knows how to win there. In 2014, the former Irish Touring Car Champion claimed a double victory and he would like nothing more than to repeat that kind of result in his Naas Court Hotel backed Leon. The chance of beating his Murray Motorsport team boss Eoin Murray would make such a result even more satisfying. After struggling in qualifying & Race 1 at the season opener but getting close to the win in Race 2 before being passed late in the race by Niall Murray, Holstein is confident of a better outing this weekend but played down expectations. Looking to the race the Kildare driver said, ‘For sure Eoin will be the man to beat and if I can get near to him I’ll be happy enough’.
Claiming the honour of top rookie in both qualifying and Race 1 at the season opener, finishing on the podium alongside 2015 title rivals Murray and Niall Quinn, Rob Butler will keen to repeat that performance. Denied the chance to build on his impressive Round 1 performance after suffering a problem enroute to the grid for Race 2, the Navan driver knows the speed is there despite his limited mileage in the Fundracer liveried SEAT. In terms of track knowledge, the 24-year-old has the advantage of having raced in the ITCC there in 2012 and he is excited about racing against Murray. Describing him as ‘one of Ireland’s most successful touring car drivers’ he continued ‘I can’t wait to race Eoin’.
With last year’s Bishopscourt meeting marking a significant event for the SEAT Supercup Ireland as it hosted the first ever race for the new SEAT based championship, this time round both race winners will be missing from the grid so it is all to play for. Providing the greatest challenge to a Murray Motorsport win will be Rod McGovern the Medical Banks backed car. A race winner last year in Mondello, the Mick Merrigan Motorsport driver could only manage a 4th and 5th at the opening rounds but the 2015 title runner-up is determined to close the 2-points deficit to Holstein in the standings.
With Round 2 podium finisher John Farrelly missing from the grid due to Sunday being his son’s communion day, Brian Berry will be the sole Sean Woods Racing entry. Having missed Bishopscourt last year, Berry has never driven the track before but having challenged his team-mate for that podium place in Mondello last month he could be one to watch with all the SEAT drivers getting a 15-minute untimed session on Sunday morning to familiarise themselves with the track’s high speed layout.
One new addition to the grid for Rounds 3 & 4 is that of former ITCC racer Stephen Maher. Bringing new colour to the grid with his yellow Supercopa, the Tallaght driver has had zero testing since acquring the car from Portugal. Such is the versatility of the car however, the 38-year-old will also race this weekend in the Irish Touring Car Championship to maximise his time behind the wheel.