It was time for the first cup race of the year at The Pike, with the Ian O’Leary cup race rounding off round 4 of the Waterford Raceway’s 2018 season, on 25 May. Once more the club was grateful to have a title sponsor for the day’s racing, with Kieran Sanford Motors doing the honours. The race day was the second half of a weekend double-header, after a practice day on Saturday brought out quite a few regulars and new faces to enjoy some laps in the sunshine. Sunday was more overcast, but the threatened rain held off all day for the entry of 55 competitors.


The action started with the MODIFIED JUNIORS, who seem to be having a bit of an in-between year, with several front runners having moved on to the senior classes while the Production class drivers seem to be enjoying their close racing too much to move up to the quicker Micras. This time there were three entries, with Jack Hickey pitched against the Deasy brothers. Jack won the first heat, but couldn’t catch Cian Deasy in heat two. Jack just held off Cian in the final and then the bonus fourth round saw Cian just ahead of Noel Deasy. Jack took the overall win from Cian and Noel.


Another excellent ten car grid of PRODUCTION JUNIORS included successful East Cork grass racer Ben Kenneally having his first Pike outing. They produced the normal close battles down the field, after a slight interruption on the first heat to put Darragh Healy’s Micra back on its wheels! Undeterred by his upside-down moment, Darragh was quickly back in action, grateful that Dad had brought along a second car today! After a second restart, Evin Harding got away to win race one from Aidan Heney, with Wexford’s David Browne emerging in front of a six-car battle for third. Next time out it was Aidan Heney’s turn to win while Joey Dilworth fended off Evin Harding, Ben Furlong and Darragh Walsh for second. After the drawn and reversed grid heats, a handicap start for the final saw Luke O’Donovan, at last enjoying a full day’s racing in his Micra, lead for nine laps before Darragh Walsh got past, with Aidan Heney finally snatching the lead in the last two laps to win from Darragh Walsh, Ben Furlong, Evin Harding, Joey Dilworth, Luke O’Donovan, Ben Kenneally after a good debut, Tadgh Foley and Darragh Healy, while David Browne departed after blowing out a front tyre. All the Juniors were treated to an extra fourth race, and this time Luke O’Donovan held on for a well deserved win over Ben Furlong and David Browne. Aidan Heney was the day’s top scorer from Evin Harding and Darragh Walsh, while Luke, Ben and David also took trophies for the bonus race.


The ROOKIES also had a new entry in the immaculate Micra of young Tommy Cronin, just old enough to take to the track. Liam Kiersey passed early leaders Brian Scannell and Toby McGuire to win race one. Next time out Conor Fitz was first away but Liam Kiersey again took over to win. Unusually for this class, we then had a third straight win, with Liam Kiersey celebrating his twelfth birthday by taking the lead from Ross Ryan on the last lap. Brian Scannell was a close third, while Toby McGuire held off Conor Fitz and Tommy Cronin for fourth.  Liam, Brian and Toby ended the day on the podium.


CLASS 1 had a six car field, with Shane Dillon again making the long trip from Clare to win the first heat by an amazing half a lap in his rapid Starlet. Stephen Condon’s Micra won heat two and then a really close three way battle in the final ended with Shane Dillon just holding off Michael Baldwin’s Micra at the flag, after Stephen went out with a puncture. Ben Hickey shared Jack’s car and took third from Ronan Coughlan’s Starlet and Ronan Foley’s Micra. Shane Dillon was the day’s overall winner from Michael Baldwin and Ronan Foley.


CLASS 1B, after a promising start to the season, this time just featured Willie Heney and Kevin Healy with Wille holding off Kevin in all three rounds.


It was good to see Anita Lonergan back in action in the LADIES, after her many other commitments kept her away from the earlier rounds. Anita returned in style by holding off Katie Egan to win the first heat, and then taking an even closer win in the second race with both Katie and Jamie Egan breathing down her neck. Jamie led the final away before Anita got past, but Jamie never let up the pressure and eventually took the outside line round the last corner and just beat Anita to the line, with Katie very close in third. Anita Pollard’s Starlet expired in the first heat and, although she completed the second race in brother Jack’s Micra, that too had problems to count her out of the final. Anita Lonergan took her first overall win as a welcome back to the Pike, with Jamie and Katie taking the other trophies.


The STOCKS had struggled with only one or two cars at the previous rounds but with five of them on the grid the racing was excellent this time, largely thanks to the efforts of Anne McGuire, having her first outing in the class, in the trusty red Hyundai. Anne made it quite clear that she was sticking to her line and anyone wanting to get past had the option of the outside; it took Brian Weston ten laps to get past her to win the first race. The second heat was even closer, with Brian and Paul Weston in their Mazdas and Jamie Condon’s Mitsubishi climbing all over her, Anne held on in front until exiting the last corner she got a little bit out of shape, which was enough for Brian and Jamie to beat her to the line.  The handicap in the final made it harder work for Anne. Paul Weston led until halfway when Brian took over to score a hat trick of wins, with Jamie second and Paul third. Anne came in fourth, holding off Joe Dilworth’s Focus. Brian was the overall winner of course, with Jamie second and Anne third.


Back to the class racing; Eddie Baldwin’s Micra was unbeaten in CLASS 2, chased in the first heat by Jack Pollard’s new Micra, which then went sick in the second race. Jack was offered Stephen Condon’s Class 1 Micra for the final, but the combined efforts of half the pits couldn’t get it started in time. As Eddie Baldwin escaped in the lead, Kieran Deasy’s Micra held on in second from Michael Coughlan’s shared Starlet and Adrian Power, who’s taken over Ger Joy’s smart Fiesta. Eddie, Michael and Kieran were the trophy winners.


CLASSES 3 and 4 ran together. Ronan Waters won the first run in Class 3 but had problems second time out when Alan D’Arcy headed Shaun Lonergan home. Ronan was struggling again in the final when Alan once more beat Shaun. Among the Class 4s, a coat of paint for Alan Houlihan’s Civic seemed to have made it even quicker, winning the first two heats before breaking in the final. Points leader Kieran Cooney’s Micra spun out on the first lap of the final but there was still plenty for the Wexford contingent to cheer as Pat Nolan, in an ex-Mick Boland Starlet he’d bought a couple of days earlier, led all the way, holding off Peadar Wall’s spaceframe Peugeot 206. Alan D’Arcy took the Class 3 winner’s trophy from Ronan and Shaun, while Pat Nolan was the Class 4 winner for the day, Peadar Wall and Alan Houlihan joining him on the podium.


CLASS 5 and 6 also shared the track and made a great spectacle with the handicapping being just right between the three Outlaw Hot Rods in Class 6 and the four 1500 Honda-powered FWD Class 5s. Raymond D’Arcy brought the beautifully turned out black Civic for a rare outing and led the first race until Andy Foley found a way round the outside on the last lap, closely followed by the battling Outlaws of Donie Linehan, Davy Wall and Brian Whelan. Second time out Andrew O’Brien’s Starlet led the way and just managed to fend off Andy Foley’s last lap challenge, with Davy Wall this time leading the Outlaws as the top six cars exited the last corner in one big bunch. The final was joined by Alan Houlihan’s Class 4 car, to see if he’d cured his problem from the previous race, which he obviously had, as he mixed it with the bigger engined cars. Keith O’Brien, whose Starlet was smoking well but keeping running, led the first couple of laps before Raymond D’Arcy took over, with Andy Foley hitting the front just before a red flag brought a premature end to the race. A shame as it was getting interesting with Davy Wall and Brian Whelan closing in on Andy and Raymond, Alan Houlihan staying with them and Andy and Keith O’Brien bringing up the rear after a grassy moment for Andy, while Donie Linehan pulled off. Andy Foley was the overall Class 5 winner from Raymond and Andy O’Brien, while Davy Wall took Class 6 from Brian Whelan and Donie Linehan.


This just left the IAN O’LEARY CUP race, open to the top three in Classes 1 to 6, plus the ladies, with 14 of the possible 21 cars taking the flag for the 20 lap race. To the surprise of some, the race was completed at the first attempt and yet again the handicapping was spot on. With almost a three lap handicap between the first and last cars at the start, the race came down to a last lap pass for the lead. Anita Lonergan, despite her car feeling the effects of its six hard races during the day, led the first half of the race, before Shane Dillon took up the running. It looked as though Shane could beat the handicap to win, but the field closed up in the final stages with Andy Foley hitting the front before Davy Wall burst through on the last lap to put his name on the cup again. Andy Foley held second from Shane Dillon, Brian Whelan, Eddie and Michael Baldwin, Ronan Foley, Anita Lonergan, Pat Nolan, Raymond D’Arcy and Alan Houlihan, while Alan D’Arcy, Andy O’Brien and Alan Houlihan didn’t make the distance.


Another excellent day at the Pike then, with more big cups up for grabs at the next meeting in June– but this time it will be the Juniors’ turn to race for the silverware!