Motorsport: Mondello ready for new era
It's a brave new world for the Mondello Park Sports Club, which promotes its first race meeting on Sunday as the local season gets under way at the Kildare venue.
While the on track action is sure to enthrall, plenty of attention will fall on the local administrators, who succeeded in winning affiliation to Motorsport Ireland after a lengthy battle.
Support from competitors and some straight talking to Motorsport Ireland from circuit CEO John Morris helped win the day for the Mondello Park club, which promotes a meeting on its own permit for the first of four planned events this weekend.
Headlining the packed 11-race programme are two races for Formula Libre single seaters, where the irrepressible Dan Daly (Reynard F3000) will start favourite in a 20-car grid that includes Donal Griffin (Reynard 90D), Eugene Heary Jnr (Reynard F3000) and John Naylor (Lola).
Vying for top billing is the burgeoning Irish Touring Car Championship (ITCC), a series which represents a significant growth area in a branch of the sport that has been contracting for more than five years.
With two classes and two championship rounds, the ITCC looks set to provide four action-packed races, with a great variety of machinery.
Series organiser Barry Rabbitt is also one of its most competitive drivers in the senior class and will be tough to beat as long as his Tuning Factory Honda CRX is not badly hamstrung by the series' weight ballast handicap system.
The Formula Vee championship will see John Downey out to defend his early lead in the popular single- seater class following his maiden win in Kirkistown two weeks ago.
Further afield, the last two Dunlop Drivers of the Year -- Peter Dempsey and Patrick McKenna -- are back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama, in the Firestone Indy Lights and Star Mazda series, respectively.