Murphy takes Mondello SEAT Spoils
The SEAT Supercup Ireland Series, in association with SEAT Ireland, returned to the familiar territory of Mondello Park for rounds 5 and 6 of Ireland’s only manufacturer supported race series, but with a twist. The drivers were met with the unique challenge of tackling the National variant of the Kildare circuit, but this time in reverse.
Following his double win at the previous meeting at Bishopscourt, championship leader Shane Murphy arrived at Mondello intent on building on his narrow championship lead from Rod McGovern. The Corkman’s cause was helped by the absence of McGovern from the weekends meeting. Murphy continued in the family run Tervas Gas Racing Leon where he left off on the last round in qualifying, with a pole position time of 57.764; and with it an added bonus point. Giving chase to Murphy was the returning Barry English in the Murray Motorsport prepared Leon, with Limerick’s Darragh McMullen putting the Fleet ID SEAT 3rd on the grid. Mondello’s tropical climate saw a mixture of blue skies and torrential downpours, but in the first race, nothing could put a dampener on Shane Murphys performance, as he drove to a lights to flag victory. Barry English took a fine 2nd place on his return to the series in his Supercopa , sponsored by The Johnstown Estate; giving close chase to Murphy in the opening exchanges of the race. The real drama in race 1 was encountered by the unfortunate Neil McMullan. The Limerick man couldn’t believe the start he got on the way to the first corner; “like a rocket” as he put it, ready to prise 2nd off English, but for the bonnet of his Leon to fly open.
A skilled piece of driving ensured that the Fleet ID car did not make contact with its competitors. The bonnet pins were secured by nearby marshals, with Neil having brought the car to safety, enabling him to continue to secure valuable seat time and another podium. Race 2 saw Neil’s brother Darragh take over the Fleet ID Leon and started from pole, with the podium positions reversed for the second race of the day. As the lights turned green, McMullen failed to capitalise on his opportunity as Tipperary man English had a flying start to take the lead into the first corner from a charging Murphy; keen to repeat his race 1 victory. But this was not in the plan for Barry English, who provided an exhibition of defensive driving for three quarters of the race from the former National Hot Rod World Champion. Try as he might, Murphy struggled to find a way past English, until his pressure and perseverance paid off and he wrestled the lead from his Munster rival. The cat and mouse race between the Tervas Gas Racing and Johnstown Estate Leons, was one of the highlights of the day at Mondello, being likened to a Scalextric race by some! Darragh McMullen had the best seat in the house for this battle and could take great encouragement in the fact that the top two never pulled away any more from him, as he continued to set consistently fast lap times on the siblings’ debut SEAT season.
At the finish Murphy declared; “It was a pleasure to race against Barry; he really made me work hard for it today and to try and find a way past someone that good and clean defending their lead would fair make you build up a sweat!” Barry English reported himself as delighted to be back and “over the moon” to be in the battle for the lead and said “we’ll get one yet”. Backing up both wins with bonus points for fastest laps sees Shane Murphy build on his championship lead as we reach the halfway point of the season. The McMullen brothers move up to second, equal on points with the absent Rod McGovern. The next rounds of the SEAT Supercup Ireland series will be held on the weekend of July 13-14, where the drivers will tackle the Mondello Park National circuit.
Championship Standings 1. Shane Murphy Tervas Gas Racing 62pts 2. Neil McMullan Fleet ID Racing 36pts 3. Darragh McMullan Fleet ID Racing 36pts 4. Rod McGovern Mick Merrigan Racing 28pts 5. Barry English The Johnstown Estate 28pts 6. Niall Murray Murray Motorsport 5pts 7. Niall McFadden Murray Motorsport 4pts
Pic: Michael Chester