Racedays at ‘The Pike’ are coming fast and furious at the moment and round 4 of the 2019 championship was held on Sunday (May 5th). After very poor weather conditions at the start of the season, Sunday once again proved ideal conditions for a good day of racing. Along with the usual 3 rounds of racing, kindly sponsored by Freeman Motors, the first big cup race of the year was to be the highlight of the afternoon, with the Ian O’Leary Memorial Cup going to the winner.
Over 60 drivers signed on for the day including the now familiar large number of junior drivers, which meant once again splitting the 2 junior classes into 2 groups in each. This idea seems to be working well both from a safety aspect and giving less experienced drivers the chance to build confidence as they start their journey in motorsport.
When the serious business of racing got underway, it was classes 1 &3 who took to the track first. Good battles were had in both classes over the 3 rounds. Davy Banville took the race win in class1 in the first race but was unfortunate to develop gearbox problems in the second race and had to retire. Jack Hickey took advantage of this to claim the next 2 race wins and the top step on the podium at the end of the day followed by Darragh O’Shea 2nd and Ronan Coughlan 3rd. The 3 main contenders in class3 suffered minor mechanical problems during the day. In the end Jason Ryan took the raceday win with Michael Baldwin 2nd and Alan Darcy 3rd.
Production juniors (group A) were next on track. These young drivers are proving very competitive again this season with Ted McGrath seemingly the man to beat at the moment, collecting maximum points on the day, with Aidan Heney 2nd and Cian Clancy 3rd. Group B was very hard to call as nobody seemed consistent in their collection of points over the 3 races. Ryan Hickey did enough in the end to claim 1st. There was no separating Ross Ryan and James Deane for 2nd with Ava Moloney 3rd.
The rookie junior- group A also proved very entertaining throughout the day with 3 different race winners. It was the more experienced – if you can be experienced at such a young age- Liam Kiersey who just did enough to take the overall win on the day ahead of Martin Power and Conor Fitz. Mollie O’Sullivan has advanced very quickly behind the wheel, in only her 3rd day out, to take the honours in group B while holding off the challenge of Calum O’Shea 2nd and Paddy Fitz 3rd.
The ladies and stock were out on track together for the day. The ladies class, which again had good numbers, is proving to be very close and competitive racing with Katie Egan winning on the day by the minimum amount ahead of Orla O’Sullivan and Jamie Egan. Brian Weston is having a commanding season in the stocks and claimed maximum points on Sunday with Stevie Slattery 2nd and Joe Dilworth 3rd.
Willie Heney won the adult 1B but Stephen Healy pushed him all the way as they were bumper to bumper for much of the 3 races. Luke O’Donovan continued his good form this season to claim another podium finish in 3rd. Class 2 saw yet another great battle throughout the day. This one was between Pat Ryan and Eddie Baldwin, who spent most of the day door to door as they raced around the track. In the end Eddie just did enough to secure the raceday win with Pat settling for 2nd and Michael Coughlan 3rd.
With the big race of the afternoon in mind, the handicappers decided to see the pace of class4,5,and 6 when all put together. The drivers deserve much credit for such clean racing at such high speeds. Class 4 honours went to Raymond D’Arcy as he claimed maximum points with some great driving to keep Peader Wall (2nd) and Alan Houlihan( 3rd) at bay. Andy O’Brien got the better of Padraig Smiddy in class5 with the unlucky Andy Foley securing 3rd despite mechanical problems throughout the day. Martin Fitz was in impressive form in class 6 to get the better of Donie Linehan with the returning Brendan Dee having major issues with his car to deny him any chance of making an impression.
While giving cars, drivers and handicappers a chance to prepare for the big 20 lap race of the day, the juniors, 1B, stocks and ladies were offered a 4th race with points up for grabs for the overall championship. And so to the Ian O Leary Cup race which was eagerly awaited by drivers and spectators alike. With cars from class1 – 6 involved the handicappers had their work cut out. Class1-5 were spaced out covering the whole track with the 2 class 6 cars starting just in front of the class1 cars but a lap down. Jack Hickey made a great start off the line and pushed his class 1 Micra to the limit lap after lap knowing that the good track conditions would probably mean the higher powered cars would be constantly closing the gap to challenge him for the lead. Raymond D’Arcy looked to be making good headway into Jack’s lead until he developed engine trouble and had to retire. As the pack battled away to catch the leader, Martin Fitz was finding all the right gaps to get through the traffic in his class6 car and having made up the lap he and Donie Linehan started behind the rest he emerged as the leading contender to snatch the win from Jack. As the ‘last lap’ sign was seen Jack was still out in front but Martin was closing fast and when the chequered flag was waved it was Martin who collected the plaudits with the unlucky Jack having to settle for second and Darragh O’Shea 3rd .
Thanks to everyone who helped make it another successful day at Waterford Raceway and the members of the O’Leary family who attended and presented the cup. Roll on the next day for some more exciting action