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Tipperary Raceway


Despite it being probably the highest profile oval track in Ireland, and the only UK-style stadium track in the South, the Tipperary Raceway at Rosegreen was one that we hadn’t yet had a chance to visit, so we jumped at the opportunity offered by a Bank Holiday Monday fixture following the Mallow BAS weekend.

Rosegreen’s had a chequered history over the last few years but with all planning issues now resolved and Damian Brennan’s Oval Motorsport International entering its second year at the helm, all is now looking good. On a fine, warm, sunny Monday it was clear that OMI has assembled a strong and enthusiastic team who put on a very professionally run 7-formula, 21-race show. Four of the slots were given to the four main ORCi classes, while three of OMI’s domestic classes also featured.

The class we were most looking forward to seeing was the PRODUCTIONS and they didn’t disappoint. Although virtually any 1-litre car is eligible (except the Yaris) it’s not surprisingly dominated by K11 Micras with the occasional Starlet. These are very quick and well set up cars; engine mods are limited to skimmed heads and lightened flywheels but the shells are extensively skinned (controlled with a minimum weight limit) and nearly all run on medium compound Yokohama A048s. The standard of preparation is consistently high and a grid of 22 of them made quite a spectacle. The big field and evenly matched cars meant that both the 20-lap heats were won from near the front of the grid; Jamie Bowen and Kenneth Corbett took chequered flags, although Kenneth was later excluded for being underweight, giving Jamie another win. The final got a bit fraught; after two red flags and a pile-up that took out Kenneth Corbett, Mikey Fogarty, Trevor O’Brien and Bill Daly, the race was finally red flagged after long-time leader Billy Ryan was spun out. Michael Russell had just taken the lead from his midfield starting position and was awarded the win from Malcolm Clien and Jamie Bowen with Mollie O’Sullivan, Conor O’Malley and Autograss convert Brian Kearns looking like the only other finishers.

The Productions also fit into Class 1 and the “Junior Modified” class at the Pike, but the Rosegreen JUNIORS race more restricted Micras that correspond to the Pike’s Class 1B – standard engines with restrictor plates and Nankang road tyres control the class, which caters for ten to sixteen year olds. One of the younger drivers, Eoghan Burke, having his first day at the front of the grid after being promoted from novice status, held on extremely well to take both 10-lap heats and the 12-lap final, where the seven car battle for second got a bit too close, bringing out the reds as Ted McGrath and Brian Manton tangled and Declan Kennedy ended up in the wall. The result was counted back a lap and Ted McGrath awarded second from Aiden Heney with Kyle O’Brien, Megan Stanley and Lisa Nelson also in the mix. Ava Moloney completed the finishers and Megan Kirwin pulled out with a puncture.

The third local group to race were the PREMIER RODS, 1600 FWD production cars that overlap with the Pike’s “Stocks” class. An unusually small grid of 8 cars lined up but they delivered very close and clean racing. Graham Nelson’s Astra came through from the back to win heat one, and Steven O’Shea’s Colt held on to win heat two. The final was too close to call as James O’Shea’s Impreza and Graham Nelson completed the last few laps side by side but the verdict went to Graham from James, followed by Kieran Burke (Focus), Steven O’Shea, Aidan Kennedy (Almera), Andrew Burke (Focus), Michael Fennessy (Almera) and Paul Weston (Mazda).

The four international classes were headed by the NATIONAL HOT RODS with a five car entry, although we sadly lost Damien Mulvey after practice, while first heat winner David Casey had engine problems in heat two. That left Jeff Riordan unchallenged, winning from comeback man Les Compelli and class newcomer Sean Kenny.

The 2-LITRE HOT RODS have only been running a couple of years in the south, but they already have a very competitive field of the Pinto or Zetec-powered steel shelled spaceframe cars. Eight cars turned out and Aidan Hallahan won both the closely fought heats after battles with Jason O’Brien. Aidan and Jason were again racing side by side as the “classic” Peugeot 205 of Philip Brady set the pace in the final, until a four car shunt took out Aidan, Jason, Paddy Curran and Eric Wakefield. On the restart Ian Riordan’s Tigra challenged Philip Brady, the 205 putting up a great show against the newer cars,  and the two raced side by side for lap after lap until Ian finally edged ahead in the closing stages with Philip inches ahead of Pat Casey’s Tigra over the line. These three were the only finishers after Mark Burke’s Corsa pulled off.

The STOCK RODS had a 10 car grid, all Corsa B or C models apart from a lone Corsa A (Nova). Philip Heery and David Murray, in the Nova, won the heats and David led most of the final, including a restart after Tom Fitzgibbon was spun out of second. Colm O’Sullivan took up the lead in the last five laps and ended up racing side by side for the line with William O’Donovan, Colm getting the win by inches despite his engine blowing up as he crossed the line. Close behind were David Murray, Philip Heery, Alan Ramsay, Brendan O’Connell and Rory Murphy, with Robbie Ryan pulling out after more teething problems with his new Corsa.

The fourth ORCi group racing were the LIGHTNING RODS with 11 Sierras on the grid producing close and clean racing in their three fifteen-lappers. Mark Gleeson came through from the star grade to win both heats but in the final he couldn’t quite catch Northern visitor Richard Stewart, with long time race leader Paddy Graham in third. Chasing the top three over the line were Ken Burke, Eamon Byrne, Alex Butterly, Ger Ryan, Keith Kirwin and Rory O’Brien with Peter Wehrly pulling out and Adrian Gleeson, after leading both heats, not making the start.   

We’d like to thank Damian Brennan and all the OMI staff and officials for their welcome and hospitality, and this is yet another track we’ll be doing our best to return to more often in the future. We’re particularly keen to take a look at some of the classes we didn’t see this time, including the Classic Hot Rods (where a very familiar name, Trevor Cusack, is among the leading lights despite dramatically rolling his Mk2 Escort at the last meeting); the International Hot Rods (a varied Outlaw-type class that attracts good fields) and the 1400 Hot Rods (catering for the quick FWD cars that feature at other Irish venues).