A day of mixed weather graced us at Mondello Park, where the sun split
the rocks during qualifying and the heavens opened just as the race
began. The event was the third round of the Irish Touring Car
Championship and whilst still in it's infancy has proved to be a major
success thus far. The series is the brainchild of competitors Brian
Sexton, Barry Rabbitt and Phillip Burdock who decided to create the
series after the Saloon Libre class was 'ruined' by space framed and
sports car entries. The rules are very straightforward; the car must be a
production car and was capable of seating four people. Two wheel drive
entrants are given the advantage of being allowed to run slick tires,
whilst four wheel drive competitors must run traditional threaded road
legal tires. Track time however was limited as the ITCC championship had
to share track time with Formula Libre, Ginetta Juniors, Historics and
Strikers to name but a few. With the rapid expansion of ITCC, I'm sure
it won't be long before they can hold dedicated events. Let's briefly take a look at some of the other classes before we cover the ITCC event …
This Formula Libre class car sported an iconic F1 colour scheme …
This Mini was pushing very hard during qualifying.
This MG was hiding a V8 under the hood and is a regular competitor in the UK.
Whilst this Formula Vee competitor get's crossed up at the sweeping esses.
Back to the ITCC. The event is run with a practice session on Saturday, qualifying Sunday morning and the race takes place Sunday afternoon.
As previously mentioned qualifying took place in the dry. The awesome Tuning Factory DC2 Type R managed to qualify a very respectable third on the start grid on it's first outing.
The Sierra Cosworth of Martin Treacy qualified second.
With a failing turbo, the TDP Evo VI still managed to qualify fourth. Such is the spirit of the team that they decided to keep racing until the end.
Brian Sexton in the JOMO Engineering Lancer Evo would lead the field to turn one with a 59.856s lap of the Mondello Park National circuit.
As the cars completed their warm up lap before the race, the dark skies finally began to unload on top of the Kildare venue. This gave the four wheel drive competitors an advantage on the start line with Sexton in the JOMO Evo and Thornton in the TDP Evo leading the pack into turn one.
Look at how many marques can be identified on the opening lap. With a grid of 25 cars, it's been a long time since I seen such diversity in a race grid.
At the start of the second lap, the TDP Evo VI had fallen back significantly from the JOMO car. The turbo had finally expired and the VI would retire shortly after this. Speaking to Robbie after the event he explained that the turbo had been used hard for the last seven years and was pleased it had lasted this long considering the amounts of abuse it had received over the same time period. I'd bet my house on the TDP crew being lined up for the next event. With the TDP car out of the picture, Sexton would cruise to another easy victory at the wheel of the JOMO Evo.
Back down the field, the battles were intense. Phillip Brennan in the Octane.ie Rover 25 leads a pack into Honda corner.
Another Octane.ie team member was having his own battles. Stephen Maher got involved in some great battles and came out on top of them.
Barry Rabbitt in the Tuning Factory managed a very respectable fourth overall even with driving the car in the wet for the very first time.
With such a short race it's hard to move about to get many photographs and when the weather gets as bad as this, enthusiasm for standing in the rain takes quite a dive. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the racing, it was fantastic to see so many battles take place in such a short space of time. I really hope the organisers can secure more time in future as after this rounds action, it is absolutely justified !
Note : As of time of publication, I'm awaiting for the race results to be published online. Keep an eye on the official ITCC website for future event dates and results.