WATERFORD RACEWAY - 24 FEBRUARY 2019

This was definitely a frustrating day at The Pike! After a fine sunny Saturday, the fog came in overnight and on Sunday morning it just wouldn't clear. Fog is about the only thing that can stop the fun at the Waterford Raceway - the one down side of the track's scenic location between the Comeragh Mountains and the spectacular Copper Coast. Eventually at 11.30 am, when scrutiny should have been closing, the track still hadn't made an appearance so the call was made to abandon ship although a new date was quickly set for the following Sunday, March 3.

There was an excellent entry, with 55 cars making it into the pits, which would have equated to over 60 drivers signing on, if anybody had got that far. We suspect there'd be several more who turned round en route so this could have been the biggest meeting here for quite a while. As it was, nearly everybody stayed on their trailers.

Those that turned up included a few brand new cars. With several past drivers rumoured to be returning to the Ladies' class this year, the  class will also welcome East Cork Class 2 Champion Catherine Walsh in a new Class 1 Micra, looking forward to her first season on the tarmac although she'll also keep up her grass racing having been virtually unbeaten racing with the men at East Cork last year. If she'd been able to race, Catherine would have been ip against lat year's front runners Katie and Jamie Egan. Anita Pollard's Starlet was back and Orla O'Sullivan was down to drive Mick Boland's Starlet.

Class 1 is looking good for the year with virtually the whole of last year's Junior Modified field moving up, and a vacancy at the top with the all-conquering Michael Baldwin moving on. Undoubtedly we'll be seeing Arek Konieczny, Anthony Cronin, Shane Hickey and Davy Banville at the sharp end, with Junior graduates Jack Hickey, Cian and Noel Deasy and Mark O'Connor, and Ronan Coughlin's Starlet. A newcomer to the class will be Darragh O'Shea in a tidy Micra.

Class 1b should feature Luke O'Donovan after his successful graduation from the Juniors at January's non-points day. Liam Fitzgerald was back with his eye catching orange Micra to start his first full tarmac season, while Arthur Cottrell and Darren Prince, who shared a car towards the end of 2018, have come back with a car each for this season.

Class 2 entries would have included Jack Pollard's Micra, now (nearly) all one colour, and Michael Coughlin sharing the Class 1 Starlet with son Ronan, plus Pat Ryan sharing the Micra that his son Jason will be using in Class 3. Class 3 was looking very promising with Jason Ryan joined by Class 1 champ Michael Baldwin, now with a 1300 engine in his familiar Micra. Current class champ Ronan Waters is back more more with his Starlet-Honda, expecting to be battling with the Suzuki-powered Starlets of Alan D'Arcy and PJ O'Sullivan.

Class 4 would have seen last year's battles resumed, with Peadar Wall's Opel 8v powered 206 joined by another 1600 Hot Rod contender with Raymond D'Arcy's Fiesta fresh from its NEC appearance. FWD opposition would have come from Kieran Cooney's Micra-Honda and Alan Houlihan's Civic.  Class 5 was all set to pitch the Wexford duo of Andy O'Brien and Andy Foley with their Honda-powered Starlets against Padraig Smiddy in his Toyota 20v-powered Micra. Class 6 should see a good field this year as the rounds progress but on this occasion the only one to show was Donal Linehan in his Honda-powered 206.

Although Evin Harding's Almera was all on his own in the non-points meeting in the STOCKS class, this time he would have been joined by Stevie Slattery's similar car, Brian Weston's Mazda and Joe Dilworth's 1400 Focus (a 1600 version is on the way).

Although the Modified Junior class has been dropped (numbers were much reduced last year and now all the regular contenders have moved on to the senior classes), the PRODUCTION JUNIORS would again have been the best supported class on the day, with up 13 drivers expected to sign on. Last year's top contenders Aidan Heney, Ted McGrath, Joey Dilworth and Ben Kenneally were all back to start another season, joined by two more often seen at Rosegreen, Lisa Nelson and Tyrone Cusack. Tyrone's expecting a busy year with his Rosegreen and Pike expoits supplemented a switch to a Mini for his second Autograss season. Darragh Healy is back in action while drivers moving up from the Rookies include Brian Scannell, Ross Ryan and Ryan Hickey. Leon O'Shea was set to try a new unpainted Micra and two newcomers signed up to share Class 1b cars, John Cottrell and Alex Prince.

The ROOKIES class tends to pick up new entries steadily through the year as aspiring racers hit their tenth birthdays. The most experienced of this year's crop is Liam Kiersey, who started towards the end of 2016, joined by late 2017 recruits Toby McGuire and Conor Fitz, plus those who started during 2018, Martin Power, Tommy Cronin and Aaron Kenneally. Liam Og Power just had one outing in 2018 but now enters his first full season while Aoife Healy started her career at the 2019 warm-up meeting.

This field could have made for a great start to the 2019 championship, so let's hope conditions are better in a week's time ands everyone comes back to start the season proper!

 

 

 

 

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