Rounds 2 and 3 of the MicksGarage.com Formula Sheane championship took place at the recently rejuvenated Bishopscourt Race Track near Downpatrick in Co Down. With car racing only returning to the circuit in 2012 I was yet to sample the delights of this fast flowing track which was held in such high regard by all those who sampled it last year. After round 1 at Kirkistown I took the GoldenPages.ie car to Fahys Garage in Oranmore, Galway for a comprehensive alignment check up. Many things were put right and we headed towards Bishopscourt with a sense of optimism, however I was keenly aware that the combination of a wet weather forecast, my lack of track knowledge and only two ten minute test sessions were going to make it a difficult weekend. By the time qualifying came around on Saturday evening I had yet to complete a dry lap of the circuit. The timetable for the event was very tight so our class was mixed with the Formula Vees for testing which impeded both classes terribly. Conditions for qualifying were damp but drying and I made sure to be on circuit at the end when the track was at its best. My second last lap was good enough for P3 but the data on the car showed that on my last lap I was on for a lap some 6 tenths quicker but I lost time overtaking a car. In the end I would line up P3 for race 1 and pole position for race 2 as my second fastest lap was the quickest of all drivers. Carnage on the way to turn one! Race one was a thoroughly wet affair, my first ever wet single seater race! I made a reasonable start but on the run to turn one I was tagged by the rear wheel of another car which spun me at 90 degrees to the oncoming traffic. A few swirls of the wheel and luckily I could point the car back towards turn one but I was down to almost last position. I put my head down and worked my way back through the field to P3. At turn two on lap 8 as I slowed for a yellow flag zone I was unceremoniously punted out of the race and into retirement on the grass. Race two was a much drier affair and I lined the FCR Media Racing car on pole position. I got a reasonable start but Kevin Sheane made a better one from the row behind and took the lead on the run to turn one. The balance in my car was very good and I had the confidence to push hard on the cold tyres and retook the position around the outside of the 4th gear left hander. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for long as on turn 3 I made a driving error and ran wide, demoting myself to 7th position and in the process thumping the steering wheel in frustration! Again I had to work myself back up the order and once again got as far as 3rd place. By now the rain had returned and the safety car was deployed to collect a stranded car. Now right on the gearbox of the leading two cars I was ready for a win or bin final lap or two but twice the safety car turned its lights off only to turn them back on and in the end we never got a dash to the flag, much to my frustration. All told it was not a positive weekend, we had the pace but not the luck. I’m looking forward to returning to Mondello Park for the 45 year anniversary meeting in June where hopefully we can get our championship aspirations back on track!
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Bishopscourt Blog- with Barry Rabbitt