Round three of Waterford Raceway's 2019 championships was the first of three successive rounds being held on the Sundays of Bank Holiday weekends. A sunny Easter Sunday was expected to bring out a big crowd, and although the numbers didn't quite match the 79 entries from the previous event, there was still a packed pit area and a full spectator car park.

The incident packed day three weeks earlier had sidelined a few cars from this round (although the driver who had the most dramatic accident, Darragh O'Shea, appeared through the gate at the last moment with a re-shelled Micra), while some regulars had other commitments over the holiday weekend. Still, a turnout of 58 cars and 67 drivers was enough for a very full and entertaining day's racing, fortunately without the major damage that had slightly marred the previous round. As usual it's hard to pick out highlights, but the racing in the Ladies and Class 4 was spectacularly fast, close and clean, and provided the day's main talking points. Another highlight was the return of a famous name from the Pike's past, with Richie Harney turning up for a few practice laps in his Mk2 Escort rally car, then entertaining the crowd with a spectacular demonstration run during the lunch break, followed up by an equally spectacular Easter egg hunt!

Racing again started with the PRODUCTION JUNIORS needing split heats with 17 drivers signed on. The idea is to divide the field into "faster" and "slower" groups, but this plan hit a snag when every one of the 17 was obviously deserving to be in the "fast" group. The split was therefore made broadly on championship points, with the hope that a clearer order will emerge as the season progresses. In the first group, Cian Clancy led the first race all the way, holding off Ben Kenneally and Aidan Heney, with Ava Moloney and Lisa Nelson battling for fourth and Ted McGrath and Leon O'Shea having an equally close duel for sixth, ahead of Eoghan Doherty. When the grid was reversed for the second heat, the duel between Ted McGrath and Leon O'Shea became the race for the lead, with Ted looking for any way past Leon until he finally found a gap on the inside into the last corner to grab the win. Lisa Nelson was unlucky to retire when in a strong third, with Aidan Heney then taking the place from Ben Kenneally and Cian Clancy. Lisa was back for the final, where she led until the closing stages, with Leon O'Shea trying for lap after lap to pass on the outside until he finally managed to grab the inside and lead over the line. Aidan Heney, Ted McGrath and Ben Kenneally took the flag three abreast for third, fourth and fifth ahead of Cian Clancy, Ava Moloney and Eoghan Doherty. So competitive was the racing that three third places was enough to make Aidan Heney the overall winner!

The second group of Production Juniors had two red flags in their first race, with Ross Ryan getting spun out and then Ferghal Keane, a Rosegreen regular having his first race at the Pike, got tagged and spun, ending up in the wall to finish his day. They came out later for a rerun with Eoghan Burke leading the early laps, challenged by Joey Dilworth until Joey slowed and Ross Ryan came through very quickly to win from Eoghan and Tadgh Foley. Ross was out of luck in the second race, again coming through the field quickly, but bouncing off the bottom straight wall and ending up on the infield. James Deane led this one all the way, holding off a strong challenge from Eoghan Burke, with Ryan Hickey and Joey Dilworth joining the lead battle. Joey Dilworth then overcame his earlier problems to lead the final all the way, chased home by James Deane and Brian Scannell, while Ryan Hickey, Eoghan Burke, Tadgh Foley and Darragh Healy fought out the other places.

The ROOKIES also had split heats again. The more "experienced" group were led home in their first race by Conor Fitzgerald, holding off a last lap challenge from Martin Power, while Liam Kiersey and Liam Óg Power demoted Callum O'Shea to the back, Callum having been upgraded to the "quicker" group after only one day's racing. The second round saw Martin Power passing Liam Kiersey to take the win, with Connor Fitz close behind and Callum beating Liam Power to fourth. The final saw an early red flag after Callum hit the bank on the top bend, but he was back on the line undeterred for the restart, and led the early laps before Martin Power took over to win from Liam Kiersey, with Callum a good third ahead of Connor Fitz and Liam Power.

Group two of the Rookies included a first time driver, Davan Leahy in an immaculate SOS-prepared Micra. Toby McGuire ran away in the first race and was half a lap in front when Darryl Deane collected the bottom straight wall and took a front corner off his Micra. Molly O'Sullivan, with an eye catching new paint job since her first meeting, took a good second from Davan Leahy. Darryl was back on the grid for the second race, when Toby McGuire won again but was given a close run this time by Aoife Healy, with Darryl getting on the pace for third. The final was led until halfway by Paddy Fitzgerald, in his second meeting, but Toby McGuire came through to become a triple winner, a rare feat in the Rookies, while Davan Henry's impressive debut ended with a second place ahead of Aoife Healy, Paddy Fitz and Molly O'Sullivan.

The LADIES had a seven car field, with three drivers missing from the previous meeting, but with one newcomer, Gemma Linehan in the ex-PJ O'Sullivan Suzuki-powered Starlet. This time Mary Prince was the only Class 1B contender and she led away but was soon passed by Catherine Walsh, looking very confident as she kept a small gap between her Micra and the chasing Starlets of Jamie and Katie Egan. Orla O'Sullivan, again driving Mick Boland's Starlet, was given a full lap to make up at the start and made it to fourth place. The second race saw Catherine again holding off the Egan sisters, but the three of them had been moved further back on the grid, giving Orla a better chance to catch them - which she did, crossing the line side by side with Catherine, but not quite preventing Catherine from taking her second win of the day. Mary Prince's over-worked Micra was missing from the final but Anita Pollard escaped from race control for long enough to take her Starlet to the front of the pack in the early laps. This time Catherine Walsh had started alongside Katie and Jamie and there seemed nothing to choose between them as they fought a close race, with Catherine getting past Jamie but unable to move Katie from the lead. With a few laps to go Orla O'Sullivan joined the battle and eventually Orla broke clear to win, with Katie, Catherine and Jamie still tied together and Anita Pollard and Gemma Linehan, after a promsing debut, completing the order.

CLASS 1 was not surprisingly a bit depleted after their last meeting, with seven cars entered including the shared Class 1A car of John Cottrell. Pat Nolan, Jack Hickey and Ronan Foley all had problems in the first race while Shane Hickey came through to win from Ronan Coughlan and the re-shelled car of Darragh O'Shea. They were all back for the second race with Jack Hickey winning, but Shane blew up after making it through to second, with Darragh O'Shea then taking second from the battling Pat Nolan, Ronan Coughlan and Ronan Foley. Shane Hickey came out for the final in young Ryan's Junior car and led the early laps before Jack came through to win from Ronan Coughlan and Darragh O'Shea, while Shane held fourth from Pat Nolan and John Cottrell.

There were just a couple of entries in CLASS 2. Pat Ryan was back to share Jason's Micra and won all three races with Michael Coughlan putting up a good fight in his shared Class 1 Starlet. Sharing the track were the STOCKS, featuring a close duel between Brian Weston's Mazda and Evin Harding's Almera. Evin just held Brian off in the first heat, but Brian took the second heat and final. Joe Dilworth came in third, having had to revert to his 1400 Focus as time ran out to get his 1600 version back on track, with Joe having put in a lot of time to help get the East Cork track up and running for its Monday meeting.

CLASSES 3 and 5 had just three cars each, but put on a spectacular show. Jason Ryan was back in Class 3 for the day and won the first two races, with Paul Fitzgerald's Starlet keeping Jason on his toes. In the final, Jason again held off Paul, but the two of them couldn't catch newcomer Gavin Downey, sharing the ex-PJ O'Sullivan Starlet-Suzuki with Gemma Linehan, and getting quicker and quicker through the day. Class 5 started as a three way fight between Padraig Smiddy's Micra-Toyota and the two Wexford Starlet-Hondas, but unfortunately lost Andy Foley with a blown engine after the first heat. Andy O'Brien caught and passed Padraig in both heats but the final proved a fascinating display of their contrasting styles. It was Padraig's smooth and controlled approach that won the fight as Andy used more and more of the track, and the grass, in a desperate effort to catch him.

CLASSES 4 and 6 were also together, with Martin Fitz, second time out in the ex-Jason Kew Tigra, taking on Donie Linehan's 206 in Class 6, while there was a promising six-car line up in Class 4. Sadly Tom Hill had teething problems with his totally rebuilt 205-Opel and didn't take the start, but there was still a great battle between the other two 1600 Hot Rods, Raymond D'Arcy's Fiesta and Peadar Wall's 206, and the top FWD contenders, Alan Houlihan's Civic and Mick Boland's Starlet. A brave move round the outside with a lap to go gave Raymond the win in the first race after a race-long battle with Alan and Peadar. Second time out Mick Boland, after a troubled first race, held off the others until Raymond again made an outside pass work with three laps to go. Mick then had an unscheduled trip across the infield to drop behind Peadar and Alan. The final again saw Mick in the lead for a long time, with Raymond at the back of the group until he found a way past Peadar, and Raymond then saw a chance to shoot past both Alan and Mick on one move, pulling away to take his third win of the day. Alan and Peadar then raced side by side for second, meaning that when the two battling Class 6s caught them, there was no way past. To their credit, Donie and Fitz didn't force the issue, probably being a little bit wary of the amount of dust Peadar was kicking up! Eventually the two Outlaws did get past, and Peadar just edged second in class from Alan and Mick, while Peter Deady, sharing Paul Fitzgerald's Class 3 Starlet, took fifth.

In Class 6, Martin Fitz came through to lead the first heat but then slowed and dropped back as Donie Linehan took the win. Second time out Martin couldn't quite make up the handicap and Donie won again. The final saw Martin catch Donie, but by the time he did they were getting involved with the Class 4 battle. On the last lap they broke free of the traffic and Donie held Martin off in a side-by-side finish.

CLASS 1B fielded six cars, plus Ronan Foley joining in the final in Tadgh's car after his own Class 1 broke down. Darren Prince led the first race until he bounced off the wall, leaving Stephen Healy in front until finally Willie Heney managed to pass round the outside to win from Stephen and Luke O'Donovan, while newcomer Conor Harty completed the race carrying the evidence of a first lap excursion into the shrubbery. Willie Heney fought off a first lap challenge by Luke O'Donovan and took another win in the second race, with Stephen Healy again taking second from Luke and Arthur Cottrell coming home fourth. Arthur then led the early laps in the final before Stephen Healy took over in front, but once more Willie Heney took to the outside and finally drew ahead to win from Stephen, with Luke O'Donovan heading a close fight for third from Ronan Foley and Arthur Cottrell. Conor Harty came in sixth with Liam Fitzgerald uncharacteristically off the pace at the back of the field, in a Micra desperate for some piston rings!

Completing the day was a HELPERS' RACE with ten entries, although only nine took the start - Anita Pollard's Starlet had managed not to break down all day, until Jamie Condon got in it! Ger Clancy started at the back in Peadar Wall's car, but came through to take the win from Paddy O'Sullivan (in Mick Boland's Starlet) and Tom Hill (in Alan Houlihan's Civic). Ben Hickey (in Jack's Class 1) took fourth from Peter Keohane (Jason Ryan's rally co-driver, chucking Jason's Micra sideways at the bends), and then came a private Class 1B race in which Eddie McGrath beat Johnny Kenneally, Adrian Power (in the Heneys' car) and Stephen Condon (in Ryan Hickey's).

With the Pike race days coming thick and fast at this stage of the season, it was just two weeks to wait for Round 4, coming up on Sunday 5 May.

CLASS RESULTS sponsored by GK Print

CLASS 1: 1st Ronan Coughlan, 2nd Darragh O'Shea, 3rd Jack Hickey

CLASS 2: 1st Pat Ryan, 2nd Michael Coughlan

CLASS 3: 1st Jason Ryan, 2nd Gavin Downey, 3rd Paul Fitzgerald

CLASS 4: 1st Raymond D'Arcy, 2nd Peadar Wall, 3rd Alan Houlihan

CLASS 5: 1st Andy O'Brien, 2nd Padraig Smiddy, 3rd Andy Foley

CLASS 6: 1st Donie Linehan, 2nd Martin Fitzgerald

STOCKS: 1st Brian Weston, 2nd Evin Harding, 3rd Joe Dilworth

CLASS 1B: 1st Willie Heney, 2nd Stephen Healy, 3rd Luke O'Donovan

PRODUCTION JUNIOR A: 1st Aidan Heney, 2nd Leon O'Shea, 3rd Ted McGrath

PRODUCTION JUNIOR B: 1st Eoghan Burke, 2nd Joey Dilworth, 3rd James Deane

ROOKIE JUNIOR A: 1st Martin Power, 2nd Liam Kiersey, 3rd Conor Fitzgerald

ROOKIE JUNIOR B: 1st Toby McGuire, 2nd Davan Leahy, 3rd Aoife Healy

LADIES: 1st Catherine Walsh, 2nd Orla O'Sullivan, 3rd Katie Egan

HELPERS' RACE: 1st Ger Clancy, 2nd Paddy O'Sullivan, 3rd Tom Hill