Murphy and English Share SEAT Spoils
The song said that the sun always shines on TV, but on this hot weekend it more than made its presence felt at Mondello Park, the destination for rounds 7 & 8 of the SEAT Supercup Ireland series; in association with SEAT Ireland. The Co Kildare circuit laid on the challenge of the National circuit for the drivers, as the factory built 340bhp Leon Supercopas continue to battle for Ireland’s only manufacturer supported championship. The sun also brought everyone out to play, as we saw 8 drivers entered to battle it out in Ireland’s fastest tin top class with new names and welcome returnees to the championship.
Qualifying on Sunday morning saw championship leader Shane Murphy continue his scintillating pace over one lap with another pole position with a lap time of 57.561, setting the fastest time from the returning Rod McGovern in the Mick Merrigan Racing Leon, with SEAT first timer Graham McDonnell completing the top 3 in the sister team car. He was followed by Barry English, with Brian Berry completing the top 5 on his first event of the season. Andrew Boland, making his SEAT debut, qualified 6th followed by Darragh McMullan, with the Team Fleet ID driver reporting it difficult to find a window to put in a clean lap.
Race 1 saw the form book live up to its reputation, as Murphy and McGovern led from the front, proving to be the class of the field in a cat and mouse battle from lights to flag. After the race Shane said “Rod made me sweat hard out there, but that wouldn’t have been hard for him in this weather!”. McGovern reported himself happy to be back and to be on the pace, straight out of the box. The podium was completed by Barry English in The Johnstown Estate Leon, who held off a late charge from the very impressive Graham McDonnell, making his debut graduating from the Fiesta ST series. 5th was Brian Berry in the G-Sport car making his return after a long layoff. Darragh McMullan completed the top 6 followed home by Andrew Boland in the Murray Motorsport car.
The 2nd race of round 4 of the SEAT Supercup Ireland series saw the top 6 finishers of race 1 reversed, with Neil McMullan in the Fleet ID car sharing the front row of the grid with G-Sport’s Brian Berry, while race 1 winner Shane Murphy in the Tervas Gas Racing Leon started from 6th. Berry led into the first corner and was involved in a thrilling battle during the final stages of the race with The Johnstown Estate backed car of the ever consistent Barry English and fast finishing class debutant Graham McDonnell. Misfortune for the ever fast Rod McGovern through the Esses saw the appearance of the safety car, but not before he set the fastest lap and with it grabbing a valuable bonus point. Championship leader Murphy’s race was scuppered by having to pit to cure a cooling issue caused by a moment at the Esses where he gathered grass, halting his battle through the field after the safety car, the former National Hot Rod World Champion ending up 6th.
Brian Berry crossed the line 1st to take the chequered flag on his impressive comeback, but race stewards judged him to have jumped the start, imposing a 10 second penalty, demoting him to 5th after a fine drive.
This promoted Barry English to a long overdue 1st, with a very impressive Graham McDonnell taking runners up. Limerick’s Neil McMullen was promoted to the final step of the podium, with Andrew Boland rounding off an impressive SEAT debut in the Murray Motorsport Leon with 4th.
As we get ready for the next round of the series on 24th August at Kirkistown, Shane Murphy retains his championship lead, but the real battle now lies for 2nd, with a titanic battle now ensuing between the McMullan brothers, Rod McGovern and Barry English. Anything can happen as we have seen this weekend, so we could be in for a fantastic title run in.
1. Shane Murphy Tervas Gas Racing 77pts
2. Neil McMullan Fleet ID Racing 45pts
3. Darragh McMullan Fleet ID Racing 45pts
4. Rod McGovern Mick Merrigan Racing 45pts
5. Barry English The Johnstown Estate 44pts
6. Graham McDonnell Mick Merrigan Racing 13pts
7. Brian Berry G-Sport 8pts
8. Andrew Boland Murray Motorsport 7pts
9. Niall Murray Murray Motorsport 5pts
10. Niall McFadden Murray Motorsport 4pts