Ford Fiesta Championships close up as leaders lose ground
The leaders of the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST Championship and the Mondello Park Fiesta Zetec Championship both lost ground to their main rivals at Mondello Park today (Sunday August 13th) as the second placed drivers, Shane McFadden and Owen Purcell out-scored the table toppers.
While both classes were tight at the front, the Zetec class produced the most excitement with the podium positions left undecided until the closing stages of both races. Pole sitter William Kellett was beaten away from the lights in race one by Owen Purcell who then held off every attempt by Kellett to overtake, lifting his fifth race win in a row by a tenth of a second, to move into the championship lead for the first time. Previous series leader Mark O’Donoghue was holding a steady third place early on but was caught in the latter stages by Phil Lawless and ended up losing out to the reigning champion by half a second.
The second race saw Purcell again lead from the start but behind him a titanic battle ensued between Lawless, Kellett, O’Donoghue, Denis McCrudden and Mark Johnston. Lawless kept O’Donoghue at bay initially before Kellett moved past O’Donoghue and set his eyes on second place. Following a fraught few laps, and a number of attempts to pass Lawless, Kellett finally made it stick and headed off after the leader. This left a battle for the final place on the podium between four drivers, which was decided on the final lap when McCrudden spun off at Calor Gas corner, slowing O’Donoghue and Johnston and leaving Lawless an easy run to third place. Up front Kellett ran out of laps to catch Purcell who made it six in a row and extended his championship lead to eight points.
Race one for the Patch Tyre Equipment Fiesta ST Championship saw Shane McFadden take an unusually easy win as he converted his pole position into his fourth victory of the season. Points leader David Maguire dropped to fourth off the start and took until the second last lap to work his way back into his customary top two position, passing Darragh McMullen and Michael Cullen late on.
With grid positions reversed for race two, pole position was occupied by Tom Fahy with John Denning alongside. At the lights the front two rows got away well meaning McFadden and Maguire remained in fifth and sixth places with a lot of work to do. An incident at Southside Motor Factors corner on lap two saw three cars eliminated and prompted a long safety car period which bunched the field and led to a tight second part to the race.
From the restart Fahy and Denning were locked together in the top two positions without Denning every really making a serious effort at the lead, due to pressure from behind from Cullen, McMullen and McFadden. Championship leader Maguire was in difficulty however as he faded due to mechanical problems to finish a lowly tenth, opening the championship door to McFadden. Despite gaining one place, McFadden was unable to make the most of his opportunity as he finished fourth behind debut winner Fahy, Denning and Cullen, to remain three points of the top spot.
Both Fiesta Championships will now go down to the wire at the two day Leinster Trophy even on the Mondello Park International Track on September 16th and 17th. The Patch Tyre Equipment ST’s will be fought out between Maguire and McFadden with the Mondello Park Zetec’s set to be decided between Purcell and O’Donoghue.