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4 from 4 for Formula Sheane Series

 

Rounds 3 & 4 of the 2015 Auto Care Formula Sheane Championship travelled north of the border to the ultra-fast Bishopscourt race circuit where, for the first time in Formula Sheane, it was joined by the launching of Rounds 1 & 2 of the Formula Sheane Northern Irish Championship. The circuit was to be run on the new international loop which meant that it was a level playing field for all the drivers as no one had every driven on longer loop. Going into the second race weekend of the year, Keith Hogg was sitting on the top of the table having had a sterling performance last time out in Mondello Park and he was only hoping to extend his lead even further. Vertical Team Mates Dave Parks and Robbie Allen were looking to continue their winning ways after each securing a victory at the Co. Down circuit last year. Hearty, Sheane, O’Connor, McLoughlin and Kearney where all hungry to take their first victories of the year also and knock Hogg off the top spot.

 

On Saturday morning the drivers only had 40 minutes to get themselves acquainted with the new track layout that was particularly greasy from the heavy rainfall from the night before. The Sun was out and there was a fresh wind trying its hardest to get the track dry but it was still very wet in some parts of circuit as the cars rolled out of assemble and the same can be said by the time the cars were out for qualifying but a nice dry line had now developed and everyone was ready to go. Kevin Sheane made the most of getting out onto the track first by pulling away and ensuring he had clear laps to bang in his times. Dave Parks was next on the road and was straight on the pace behind Sheane. Robbie Allen fired in an early quick lap just in front of Hearty with Championship Leader Hogg sitting in 5th just in front of Round 2 race winner O’Connor. Gary Corcoran was right on the pace also but a slipping clutch would mean that he couldn’t show his true pace and would have to settle for 7th. Sheane was on pole with a fantastically quick time of 1.30.44s followed just behind by Parks with 1.30.93, next up was Kearney who managed to get one blistering lap before traffic held him up. Beside him on the second row we had Hogg with Hearty and O’Connor filling out Row 3. And that was that, qualifying was over and the teams were treated to a rare opportunity to relax and watch some racing followed by BBQ in the evening as there was no more races until the morning for the series.

 

Sunday was a completely different scenario all together from Saturdays wonderful sunny weather, thick mist and a heavy rainfall in the night made conditions very greasy and slippy as the cars rolled out for their formation lap for Race of the day. As the series was first on the road in the morning this meant that the conditions were much a factor for the drivers as they approached the start line. As a strong grid lined up the 5 second board was held and the revs grew and grew. Once the lights finally went out it was Sheane and Parks on the front row that would make a great get away followed by Allen, Hearty and O’Connor. All the cars threaded their way around the slippy surface through the 130mph turn 1 and headed off out of sight into the mist. Everyone on the pit wall awaited the roar of the engines coming down the back straight and into the final corner to see Sheane leading and Parks tucked in under his gearbox and little gap back to Allen then O’Connor and Hearty with Hogg firmly stuck to that battle. John Linnane had suffered a slight electrical issue which meant he wasn’t able to give it his all and Gary Corcoran was closing the gap at every corner to Paul McLoughlin, lap after the lap the 2 squabbled for the position with Corcoran’s car having a scary spin at full throttle through the flat out turn on which left him beached in the kitty litter. By now Sheane and Parks were both pulling away from the rest of the leading pack and really getting the hammer down in the tricky conditions neither was able to pull away or make a move on the other, Allen had dropped off and Hearty was in front of O’Connor. Just as we thought the race was settling down a little the red flag was shown and all the cars made their way back to the grid. The Sheane Cars Scholarship leader, Niall O’Flynn, had had an unfortunately spin that left his car in a dangerous position on the edge of the last chicane, with all the cars back lined up on the grid everyone awaited the restart. When the lights went out for the second time in the race it seemed like everyone made a slight jerk forward and stopped again albeit some kept going and we were racing again. There was only 5 minutes left to go which made who was first into turn one even more important. O’Connor led from Parks with Kearney slotting in behind them to continue his impressive form. Championship leader Hogg was just in front of the reigning champion Hearty and Sheane dropped back to 6th from the restart. A great tussle for the next few laps seen positions swap and change all over the place with Parks taking the lead away from O’Connor on the penultimate lap going into the new extended loop of the track. Parks managed to hold on to the lead to take a very popular win from O’Connor and Kearney brought his car home for a well-earned 3rd place. The rest of the grid came home as follows, Hogg, Hearty, Sheane, McLoughlin, McCabe and 1st win for ex-Fiesta driver, Daniel Clarkin, in the Sheane Cars Scholarship Championship from first time racer Mark Carvill who kept his nose clean to bring his winter purchase home and move him into 3rd position overall in that Championship. And that was that, Round 3 was done and dusted and the drivers set about getting their cars ready for the second encounter later in the afternoon.

By the time Race 2 had come about the sun was trying to break through the clouds but most importantly the strong head wind had dried the track meaning the drivers could push that little bit harder through Bishopscourts long sweeping bends. Lining up beside pole sitter Kevin Sheane was Keith Hogg, Hogg was hungrier than ever before for a race win and seeing as he was yet to take the top step of the podium and he was top of the leader board after race 1, he really needed to get it hooked up off the line and boy did he. When the lights went out Hogg won the drag race between him and Sheane to turn 1 with Parks moving in behind Sheane to set them all up for one of the closest 3-way battles we had seen in a long time. As Parks would try to make a move on the defending Hogg, Sheane would move into an attack position only for Parks to turn defensive to hold onto his position. Lap after the lap the 3 battled and the attacking Sheane and Parks pilled on the pressure on Hogg hoping he would make a slight mistake and show a small gap that the 2 could squeeze through. The battles were raging on further down the order too with O’Connor, Allen and Hearty all making moves on each other. In the Scholarship Championship things were really heating up also, O’Flynn was on a mission after the race 1 disappointment and had dispatched his counterpart Clarkin and was out hunting down previous Scholarship Championship winner John Linnane. Back to the leading pack and it was tighter than ever with on tenths of seconds between 1st to 3rd position and the second leading group had been joined by Corcoran and McLoughlin who were dying to get in on the action. Coming into the end of the next to last lap Sheane made the move on Parks and made it stick on for Parks to take it straight back a few corners later and for the very first time Keith Hogg was first to cross the line to the chequered flag from Parks 2nd and Sheane in 3rd, it would be fair to say each of them also deserved the win after the battle they had. Allen was first of the next pack home in 4th from Hearty, O’Connor, Corcoran, McLoughlin and the recovering Kearney. O’Flynn took a well-deserved win in the scholarship series from Clarkin as he dispatched a struggling John Linnane who was plagued with an electrical issue all weekend.

Rounds 3 & 4 of the 2015 Auto Care Formula Sheane had produced 2 more winners which brings the tally to 4 different winners on 2 very diverse race tracks that the championship has travelled to so far this year, Hogg has extended his lead and obtained that illusive race win, Parks has shown rapid pace to secure his win and the newbies where really enjoying their battles as they leave the track with O’Flynn and Clarkin sitting in joint 1st place. The 2015 Auto Care Formula Sheane Championship is really cooking now, we are pretty sure that there will be another race winner, if not 2, when we return to Mondello park on the 6th and 7th of June, this time out it’s the longer international circuit that the series will be running on. With more drivers expected out including some former race winners in Sheanes and maybe a Champion or 2 from other series’ and you can be guaranteed it’s going to have thrills, spills and some of the best racing around. Make sure you join us for that one! Roll on Rounds 5 & 6!!!

Formula Sheane

Formula Sheane featured on Nationwide back in 2003. Andrew Murphy who has been involved for a number of years approached me to take the segment off DVD to make available for all to view and enjoy.

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