ASHFORD Racing driver Lee Newsome returned to the Irish Formula Vee Championship in 2012 and after a stunning debut season in 2011 a big challenge lay ahead to retain his National and Northern Ireland Formula Vee titles.
Lee had an amazing debut season in 2011 winning five races on the way to winning both championships ahead of multiple champion Ray Moore.
Lee knew that Moore would be his main Championship contender in 2012 as he was considering retiring at the end of the year and he would be determined to go out as champion.
Moore started the year with a victory at the first event of the year at Kirkistown Racing Circuit in County Down narrowly beating Lee to the line with fellow Ashford racing driver Adam McAuley claiming third position.
Lee knew that a good result was needed at the second event at Mondello Park's national circuit.
During the Saturday testing sessions for the event Lee became the first man in history to lap Mondello's National Circuit in less than one minute in a Formula Vee racing car.
Lee managed to win the following day's race while Moore finished fourth which gave Lee an early championship lead heading to Bishopscourt in Northern Ireland where car racing was returning for the first time in 44 years.
The Leinster Motor Club ran the meeting for Irish classes and it was the first time since the 1968 Leinster Trophy meeting that the former World War Two airfield at Downpatrick, County Down, had been used for car racing although the venue was used regularly for club motorcycle races.
Formula Vee would have two rounds at the event and Lee took the victory from Moore in the first race and became the first driver to win a car race at the circuit in 44 years.
Moore reversed the result in the second race taking the win from Lee. Adam McAuley had another strong weekend with two third place finishes.
The event was a huge success and the Leinster Motor Club will run the event for a second year in 2013.
Round 5 was held at Kirkistown Racing Circuit and Lee took the victory ahead of Kevin O'Hara, Dan Polley and Ray Moore after a titanic four-way battle for the lead all the way to the chequered flag.
Moore won rounds 6 and 7 in Mondello while Lee minimised the damage with two second positions however he knew he would have to stop Moore's winning momentum at round 8 at the Formula Vee Festival.
The Formula Vee Festival was run in aid of the Barretstown Charirity at Mondello Parks National Circuit and a fantastic weekend of racing and family entertainment was provided and an amount of €13,208.99 was raised for the Charity. Lee took the race win ahead of Kevin O'Hara with Moore in third.
For round 8 it was back to the ultra fast Kirkistown Racing Circuit and Qualifying was held in tricky wet conditions.
Lee managed to give himself the best possible chance of victory in the race by claiming pole position.
When the lights went out Lee got an excellent start and produced a stunning opening lap to give himself a lead that he would not relinquish to claim another victory.
The final two rounds of the championship where held at Mondello Parks International Circuit.
Lee had to beat Moore in one of the races in order to claim the National Championship.
Yet again Lee claimed pole position for both races.
Kevin O'Hara took the race win ahead of Lee who was happy to keep out of trouble and stay ahead of Moore to claim his second National Formula Vee title with one race to spare.
The final race of the season was held on a wet but drying circuit and Lee gambled on a full dry set up, unfortunately the track didn't dry sufficiently and he could only manage fourth position, amazingly the only time he finished outside the top two positions all year.
Lee was naturally delighted with his stunning season as he claimed seven pole positions, five race wins, five second place finishes and only finished below second in one race on his way to successfully defending his national and Northern Ireland Formula Vee Championships.
Lee also retained the Hawtorn Trophy awarded to Irelands number 1 racing driver of the year and was also presented with the best presented car award for a second year in a row in recognition of the immaculately prepared Sheane Formula Vee that he has invested so much time and effort in maintaining on his way to becoming a double Formula Vee champion.