After a long winter the 2014 racing season finally got underway last Sunday at Mondello Park where Colm Blackburn took his maiden win in the works Leastone. As this was a non-championship race there was a smaller than usual entry but 5 rookie drivers took to the grid as a curtain raiser for the Finol Star of Tomorrow Championship due to start at the next race meeting in April.
Despite a promising forecast for the weekend the teams arrived in Mondello on a wet Sunday morning, providing challenging conditions for qualifying. Colm Blackburn and Kevin Grogan qualified on the front row of the grid with impressive laps with Ger Byrne and impressive newcomer Anthony Cross behind them on row 2. Stephen Morrin qualified his Leastone in 5th with Brendan O’Brien qualifying a career best 6th place on his first outing with the works Leastone team.
After qualifying the track was gradually drying but as the drivers lined up on the grid for the race rain began to fall again. When the lights went out Grogan managed to secure the lead on the run down to Ford Corner. However Blackburn kept the pressure on the AvantiSport driver and got a run on him out of the Esses and made the move stick into Dunlop. Both drivers at the front maintained a very strong pace and opened up a gap to 3rd place Ger Byrne. However a safety car period on Lap 3 to allow a beached car be recovered from the gravel trap at turn one bunched the field up again.
After the restart Grogan had a spin at Turn 2 dropping him to the back of the field which robbed the spectators of a great battle for the lead. Meanwhile Stephen Morrin in the Total Morrin Motors Leastone had reeled Ger Byrne in and challenged for second place with a move around the outside of Ford corner but Byrne managed to hold on to second place in the Abbeylawn Sheane when the chequered flag fell at the end of the lap. In the meantime Grogan had made a great recovery to take 5th place at the flag behind rookie driver Anthony Cross in the ex-Robbie Allen Sheane.
Drivers will now be looking forward to the start of the Formula Vee National Championship on April 13th next when the regular front runners will return for the first time this year.
Drive of the day – Colm Blackburn. After bagging his first pole position and race win in dominant style Blackburn will be looking to build on this weekend when the National Championship begins next time out.