Thursday 22 February 2018

Dempsey keen to build on stirring debut


Declan Quigley

Peter Dempsey is waiting to hear whether his tigerish second-place finish at last weekend's Indy Lights race in Toronto is the catalyst for a permanent return to the series or just another false dawn.

The Ashbourne racer has developed a reputation for making the most of one-off opportunities in a career blighted by financial constraints and last weekend was no exception as he converted his first drive for Andretti Motorsport into his best result of the year.

Dempsey had looked like a possible title contender earlier in the season after finishing on the podium in the first round in St Petersburg, Florida and Barber Motorsports Park but, as so often in his career, his opportunity soon evaporated through no fault of his own.

Having sat out almost all of last season, former Star Mazda series runner-up Dempsey was picked up by 02 Racing Technology in what looked like a dream chance at glory.

However, 02 RT pulled out of the series in acrimonious circumstances, leaving Dempsey the innocent victim of a financial and political row.

Luckily his talent was recognised by one of the most famous names in US racing and he lined up for last weekend's eighth round of the Firestone-backed Indy Lights series last weekend with a top team at last.

His career has prepared him for the need to make the most of chances when they appear and Dempsey was instantly in the groove, setting fastest time in practice.

Third in qualifying became second when early race leader Esteban Guerrieri spun away his advantage and Dempsey won a spectacular place-swapping battle with Josef Newgarden to take second.

Now he is waiting on news whether he will be still with Andretti for the next round of the series at Edmonton the weekend after next, but wasn't able to confirm his participation yesterday.

Meanwhile, Craig Breen is back in international rallying action this weekend after his recent success on his local event, the Raven's Rock Rally

Fresh from a start-to-finish win with his S2000 Ford Fiesta in Kilkenny, Breen refocuses on his campaign in the WRC academy as he heads to the gravel stages of the Estonia Rally this weekend.

Breen returns to his lower-powered Fiesta on Friday and Saturday where he will face several of his series rivals in what serves as a final warm-up ahead of Rally Finland, the third round of the WRC Academy.

"My goal is to get some competitive mileage in Estonia before Rally Finland and to get a good set-up, so when we go to Finland we will be quick from the word go," he said.

"It will be interesting to compare myself against other drivers in the WRC Academy. I'm really looking forward to it."

Irish Independent

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