Driver of the Year Championship Final
10 November 2019



The Pike’s action packed 2019 season came to an end with round 11 of the Driver of the Year Championship, and the twelfth race day of the year, which together with a practice day, the June charity day and the day the racing got fogged off, meant a total of fifteen days’ activity on the track. Once more we were lucky with the weather, with the previous day’s rain and hailstones giving way to a fine sunny Sunday morning. Colder weather with dull and overcast skies took over as racing started, but the rain held off until five minutes after the prizegiving finished.


An excellent entry gathered during the morning, with 72 drivers signing on in 62 cars, and new cars appearing even at this stage of the season. Although several classes had runaway winners in the championship, others had trophy positions still in the balance, and the overall championship trophy, the “King of the Pike” wasn’t likely to be settled until the last race had been completed. In the end Raymond D’Arcy just held onto his advantage over Eddie Baldwin, to put his name for the first time on the trophy his father won several times in the 1980s and 90s.


Racing kicked off with CLASS 1, where six equally quick Micras were chasing down the shared Class 1B car of John Cottrell. Darragh O’Shea managed to get away from the pack to win the first round, with Jack Hickey just beating Shane Hickey, Ronan Foley, Ronan Coughlan (in the borrowed Cian Deasy Micra after the damage to his Starlet at the last meeting) and Paddy O’Sullivan. Second time out Jack Hickey worked his way to the front, with Ronan Coughlan in second and Shane Hickey, Darragh O’Shea, Ronan Foley and Paddy O’Sullivan having another close battle for second. For the final Paddy O’Sullivan started at the front and led all the way, while the battle for second took a dramatic turn on the last corner as Darragh O’Shea picked up Ronan Foley’s discarded front bumper which jammed in his front wheel; Darragh still managed to cross the line ahead of Shane and Jack Hickey, while Ronan Foley and Ronan Coughlin recovered from their coming together to claim fifth and sixth ahead of John Cottrell. Overall Darragh and Jack shared first place, ahead of Shane and Paddy.


CLASS 2 had three runners with Pat Ryan rejoining the fray in a new Micra and Michael Coughlan sharing the Deasy Class 1 Micra with Ronan. Eddie Baldwin yet again proved unbeatable, putting up a good show against the Class 5s that were sharing the track. Pat Ryan spluttered away from the line in the first race, but got running well for a couple of second places, while Michael Coughlan took second overall for the day.


The CLASS 3 entry had a boost; Liam Fitzgerald moved up from Class 1A with a 1300 16 valve Toyota powered Starlet, Gavin Mullally returned to the Pike with a Honda-powered Starlet, and Rosegreen regular Daniel O’Sullivan had his first Pike outing since last Christmas with his Toyota-powered Starlet. Unfortunately Gavin’s Honda blew up without completing a racing lap and Liam’s engine also blew up, and liberally oiled most of the track. The first race saw Michael Baldwin close in on Alan D’Arcy for the lead and a close battle eventually got too close, with Michael bursting a front tyre and having to settle for second with Daniel O’Sullivan third. The second race saw Alan and Michael battling again but this time Michael got away to win as Alan’s engine went off song. Alan’s car again went sick in the final and he pulled out as Michael won again from Daniel O’Sullivan.


CLASSES 4 and 6 ran together, with a strong entry in 4 against Brian Whelan’s Nissan-powered 205, the only Class 6 runner. The first heat needed an extra warm-up session to clear all the cement dust from the racing line after an oil slick in the previous race; even without this the RWD cars were really struggling to heat up their tyres in the cold conditions. The four 1600 8 valve Opel powered cars all looked evenly matched, but Kevin Condon’s twitchy 206 spun out of the lead, leaving the similar 206s of Jim Scannell and Peadar Wall battling until Peadar got too close to the back straight concrete and ripped off a front corner. Brian Whelan came through to win overall and Jim Scannell took the Class 4 win from Raymond D’Arcy’s Fiesta, with Raymond’s main focus being on finishing every race to claim the points needed to wrap up the overall championship. Second time out Kevin’s car again tried to bite him a few times, but this time he held on to it to claim a good win. Jim Scannell also had a sideways moment when his engine cut out, leaving him in a perilous position for a couple of laps before it re-fired. More drama came when Brian Whelan had a rose joint break, taking him into the infield banking, while Peadar Wall held off Raymond D’Arcy for second, followed by Ray D’Arcy in his only race of the day in the Civic. In the final it was Kevin Condon’s turn to have a suspension breakage, which took him straight on into the pit entrance tyre wall, while Peadar Wall rounded off his season with a great run to take the win, chased by Brian Whelan, with Jim Scannell holding off Raymond for second in class. Jim’s rapid conversion to RWD racing gave him the class trophy from Raymond and Peadar.


CLASS 5 just had two entries, but they both put on a good show. Ronan Waters’ 8 valve Honda-powered Starlet took the first heat after Padraig Smiddy’s 16 valve version had what looked like a minor wiring fire on the startline. Padraig came back to take a spectacular last lap win against Ronan in the second race and Padraig then set a very fast pace to win the final, although Ronan was still the day’s overall winner.


CLASS 1B had a packed grid of 12 cars, boosted by this being the final round of the McNamara Motorsport Micra Challenge, with senior and junior drivers paired for a team championship. Luke O’Donovan had a good getaway to lead the first race, but eventually Alan Houlihan came through to take the win, chased by Stephen Healy, with Ken O’Shea holding off Willie Heney for third. Johnny Kenneally had swapped cars with son Ben as Ben’s green car had been giving problems, and unfortunately it again played up to sideline Johnny for the day. The second race started with drama for Arthur Cottrell, whose bonnet flipped up at the start, while his Ballinhassig team-mate Darren Prince also dropped out with a misfiring engine. Leading all the way in fine style was Orla O’Sullivan, having another run in Ava Moloney’s Micra and never looking likely to be caught as she was chased home by Ken O’Shea, Kieran Burke and Alan Houlihan, with Stephen Healy, Willie Heney, Ben Hickey and Luke O’Donovan having a fraught battle behind. The final was down to eight cars, with Darren Prince, Ben Hickey, Johnny Kenneally and Orla O’Sullivan missing. A close three way battle developed with Ken O’Shea leading but dropping to third as Alan Houlihan took over, with Stephen Healy challenging. Ken managed to retake second and on the last lap Ken pulled up to the outside of Alan down the back straight before outbraking him into the final bend, Ken taking the win over Alan and Stephen as Luke O’Donovan took fourth from Willie Heney, Kieran Burke and Adam Cottrell, with Arthur Cottrell retiring. Ken took the overall trophy from Alan and Stephen.


A five car grid in the STOCKS featured Johnny Patterson bringing his (or Aaron's) Rover 400 to the Pike for the first time and he ended the day unbeaten, after some good racing on the way. In the first heat Johnny headed home Brian Weston’s Mazda, after Evin Harding’s Almera had an off course moment while holding off Brian. The second race saw Johnny closing in on leader Brian in the final stages before diving past in the last corner to take the win. Stevie Slattery’s Almera was a non starter in the final and this time Johnny led all the way, chased by Brian and Evin with Jonathan McGovern fourth in the Alfa 156.


The LADIES featured the three evenly matched Micras of Catherine Walsh, Katie Egan and Orla O’Sullivan chasing after the standard car of Mary Prince, who was using Adam Cottrell’s car after her regular Micra gave problems. Mary put up a great fight and was getting harder to catch in every race. The first heat finished with Orla in her accustomed first place, just ahead of Catherine and Katie. Second time out Catherine was the first to get past Mary and she held onto the lead as Katie and Orla raced lap after lap side by side, with a sideways moment for Orla dropping her to fourth as Katie took second from Mary. In the final it took until the last three laps for Orla to catch and pass Mary before Orla went on to win, with Katie snatching second from Mary on the line and Catherine right behind in fourth. Orla was the overall winner from Catherine and Katie.


There were the usual big fields of Juniors to complete their season, so both classes yet again needed to be split. In the PRODUCTION JUNIORS Group “A” was headed in the first round by Joey Dilworth until the very last corner, when Ben Kenneally, using the white 158 car, nipped through on the inside to pip Joey and Darragh Walsh to the line. The second race was even closer as Eoghan Burke held on all the way, fending off Darragh Walsh and Ben Kenneally until Ted McGrath and Leon O’Shea joined the battle. The ever unlucky Joey Dilworth picked up a puncture and tried to keep out of the way as the leaders lapped him on the last corner, with Eoghan just holding on from Ben, Darragh, Ted, Leon and Ross Ryan. The final saw Ben Kenneally out of luck as this car too broke down on him, while Leon O’Shea led all the way to the chequered flag. Darragh Walsh snatched second on the last lap from Ross Ryan, with Eoghan Burke, Ted McGrath and Joey Dilworth right behind.


The competitiveness of this class was illustrated by last year’s champ Aidan Heney dropping to Group B for the first time, holding off James Deane to win the first heat. Tyrone Cusack, after his busy Autograss season, at last found time to make his Pike debut in the Micra he’s used occasionally at Rosegreen, and he headed the field in the second race before losing out to James Deane, and eventually outbraking himself and visiting the scenery as James won from Aidan Heney, Ryan Hickey and Brian Scannell. Tyrone again led the way in the final, initially under pressure from Ava Moloney until James Deane and Aidan Heney moved up to take up the challenge. Tyrone withstood all the pressure until, with two laps to go, he again locked up at the pit gate bend and took to the grass as Aidan took over to win from James and Brian Scannell. Ava held off Ryan Hickey for fifth with Tyrone, Tadgh Foley and Darragh Healy completing the closely matched group.


The ROOKIE JUNIORS competed their very competitive season, with plenty of new talent having emerged to take the place of those who’ll be stepping up a class next year. A hectic first race for Group A saw Paddy Fitz get off line while leading and a battle between Toby McGuire and Martin Power ended with them tangling on the last corner with Martin crossing the line first but, we think, getting put back behind Toby in the result. The second round started with a big pile-up in which Molly O’Sullivan, Callum O’Shea and Liam Og Power all came off worst. All but Callum came back for a rerun later on, in which Toby McGuire won, chased by Martin Power and Conor Fitz. The final saw Paddy Fitz back in front, and this time he stayed there to finish his first season with a good win from Martin Power, Toby McGuire, Liam Og Power, Conor Fitz, Molly O’Sullivan and the slightly battered car of Callum O’Shea.


Group B started their day with a win for Callum Power, with Aoife Healy holding second until the last lap when Davon Leahy and Daryl Deane squeezed past. Second time out it was Limerick boy Nathan Graham, on his second visit to the Pike, who led all the way, holding off Davon Leahy. The final unfortunately lost Fionn O’Donovan who, after some promising outings in borrowed cars, debuted his own smart, but somewhat smoky, Micra, which went well in the first two races but refused to fire up on the grid for the final. Davon Leahy took the lead from Callum Power and won from Callum, Daryl Deane, Nathan Graham and Aoife Healy.


The day ended with a HELPERS’ RACE, in which the O’Sullivan Micra took yet another win, this time with Shane ”Barney” Guiry at the wheel. The close battle of the standard Micras was resolved when Ann McGuire, thrashing young Toby’s car, just kept it out of the barriers but lost out to Rally Hally in the 500 car and Aaron Patterson in Alan Houlihan’s. Michael O’Shea in Darragh’s car and Kevin Healy in Aoife’s car completed the order.


So that was the end of a great season for Waterford Raceway. Sadly we can’t make it to the St Stephen’s Day meeting but we’ll look forward to being back at the Pike when the action starts for 2020.


CLASS RESULTS sponsored by Watkins Signs and Designs

CLASS 1: 1st = Darragh O'Shea & Jack Hickey, 3rd Shane Hickey, 4th Paddy O'Sullivan

CLASS 2: 1st Eddie Baldwin, 2nd Michael Coughlan 3rd Pat Ryan

CLASS 3: 1st Michael Baldwin, 2nd Alan D'Arcy

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

CLASS 5: 1st Ronan Waters, 2nd Padraig Smiddy

CLASS 6: 1st Brian Whelan

STOCKS: 1st Johnny Patterson, 2nd Brian Weston, 3rd Evin Harding

CLASS 1B: 1st Ken O'Shea, 2nd Alan Houlihan, 3rd Stephen Healy

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

PRODUCTION JUNIOR A: 1st Darragh Walsh, 2nd Ben Kenneally, 3rd Leon O'Shea

PRODUCTION JUNIOR B: 1st Aidan Heney, 2nd James Deane, 3rd Brian Scannell

ROOKIE JUNIOR A: 1st Toby McGuire, 2nd Martin Power, 3rd Paddy Fitzgerald

ROOKIE JUNIOR B: 1st Davon Leahy, 2nd Callum Power, 3rd Daryl Deane

HELPERS' RACE: 1st Shane Guiry, 2nd Rally Hally, 3rd Aaron Patterson


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