Fildes focuses on SEAT points leader McGovern at Mondello
Having claimed his first win in the SEAT Supercup Ireland last time out, Jonathan Fildes travels to Mondello Park this weekend (10/11 June) firmly focused on hauling in early championship leader Rod McGovern. Making his race debut at Bishopscourt circuit last month, the venue for rounds three and four of the Yokohama backed championship, Fildes registered his first win in Race 2- becoming the third different winner this season. The Murray Motorsport driver having moved up to second in the standings, now wants to close the gap to McGovern as the first outing of 2017 on the Mondello Park International circuit marks the completion of the first half of the season.
Making his SEAT Supercup Ireland debut on the Co. Kildare venue’s 3.5km international circuit last year, Fildes made an immediate impact by putting the Fish Graphics backed Leon on pole. While his debut races didn’t go as planned, the Co. Meath driver knows the 301 Bhp Leon Supercopa a lot better this time round and sees Rounds five & six as an opportunity to try and eat away at McGovern’s points advantage.
For McGovern, the four races on the International track only netted the Mick Merrigan Motorsport driver a single win when he took the final race of 2016 to finish as Vice Champion for the second year in succession. The only multiple winner of Season #3 so far, the Medical Banks backed driver has been the master of qualifying this year and converted those pole positions into wins, something he will be looking to continue. Thanks to the bonus points for pole and having setting the fastest lap in 2 of the four races to date, the Dubliner holds a healthy 11-points lead in the standings.
After the joys of claiming his first win at the season opener, Bishopscourt was to prove less fruitful for Barry English. A great qualifying performance would put the Winthrop Engineering backed Leon second on the grid but he left with pair of P7 finishes from the races. Despite this, his strong start to the season on the National track at Mondello means the Murray Motorsport driver still sits 3rd in the standings, just 2 points behind team-mate Fildes.
While Bishopscourt saw Fildes claim a win that took slightly longer then had been widely anticipated, the standout performance of the weekend was that of the high profile championship’s two rookies. In Race 1, Shane Murphy kept McGovern honest with the assistance of former SEAT Supercup title contender Niall Quinn helping the former World Hot Rod Champion greatly on his transition from oval to circuit racing. Backing it up with another podium in Race 2 plus the fastest lap, the Tervas Gas Racing outfit will be aiming to join the title race this weekend.
Fellow rookie Sam Mansfield also made it a podium double in Bishopscourt with the championship’s youngest and least experienced driver even leading Race 2. While the vastly experienced Fildes would deny him the win, Mansfield has already shown he is naturally quick and with his experience growing with every outing, expect the Finnstown Castle Hotel backed Leon to be in the mix again this weekend.
For reigning champion Erik Holstein, it is fair to say it has been a character building start to his title defence. A last minute deal to run a different car this season left little time to prepare it for Round 1. Further gremlins arose in Bishopscourt leaving the Dubai 24-hour TCR Class winner with just 10-points to his name. Back to back reigning team Champions Murray Motorsport haven’t given up on their champion driver however and are confident they have found the root of the problem and that Holstein will be back where he belongs- battling for race wins this Sunday.