The 2016 Avon Tyres Formula Sheane Championship story so far...

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The 2016 campaign kicked off back in April on Mondello Parks National Circuit loop, with the current champion not defending the title this year, the championship is guaranteed a new winner. After the long winter break the drivers were back more eager than ever to take the honours in Ireland’s fastest one make single seater series, where it’s down to driver skill and talent rather than thousands of euro’s and hours spent in the workshop as all the cars are mechanically the same. Brian Hearty was the man on a mission on the opening weekend fending off all the challenges that faced him but it was Robbie Allen’s two sterling drives from the back of the grid in both races that really wowed the spectators at the Kildare Circuit. The Sheane Cars Scholarship Championship kicked off with two great performances from Niall O’Flynn and Andrew Murphy, Murphy took the two wins but again it was O’Flynn’s third place qualifying spot that got everyone talking in the paddock.

As Irelands only internationally racing single seater race series, Rounds 3 & 4 took place at the superb Anglesey Race Circuit in North Wales. The first visit of any Irish single seater series across the Irish Sea for many years saw an air of excitement from the drivers when they arrived at the circuit that wasn’t lost throughout the weekend. The series even brought a celebrity guest drive for the weekend in Today FM’s Anton Savage, and to prove he was not just a gimmick, the Radio man set about claiming Round 3 as his own and took the win. Round 4 went to Kevin Sheane who was over the moon to claim his first win since the 2014 campaign. Niall O’Flynn dominated the Sheane Cars Scholarship Championship with two wins after Championship leader Murphy and John Linnane had a high speed impact removing both from the rest of the weekend. The Series had a very special Trophy race for the late Bob Parks. With a reverse grid format, it really meant that it was anyone’s for the taking. Taking an early lead was Chris McCabe, but it was to be short lived as mechanical issues removed the leader and promoted Charlie Linnane to lead the pack. To say positions changed at every corner of the track was an understatement. Drivers ducked and dived everywhere they could, so much so the commentator could not keep up, Linnane lead the field across the line to take the prestigious trophy for the first time and well-earned when you consider there was less than 1 second separating the top 5 cars and 5 seconds covering first to last.

It was back to Mondello Parks International loop for Rounds 5 & 6, a circuit that always throws up some surprises and action as the longer track is more technical than its national loop sibling. Brian Hearty took pole and looked set to walk away with it but that was by far not what happened. The heavens opened as the cars sat in the assembly area and changed everything. Hearty lead for a lap but Sheane, Parks and Allen had other ideas by dispensing with the four time champion and turning battle for first into a four way war. Parks would overtake Sheane on one corner; Sheane would re-take the position a corner later. The lead changed more than four times in the next few laps as the foursome diced on the drying track, each time finding new grip. Sheane held on to take his second win with Parks and Allen following suit. Round 6 seen Allen on Pole but it was Sheane who put the move on pretty early to take the lead a command a strong gap over the cashing Allen and Parks. Niall O’Flynn took two more wins to take his tally to four in the Sheane Cars Scholarship Championship. David Dempsey and Leslie Shaw had an unfortunate collision in the slippy conditions which resulted in the safety car taking the cars across the line.

The Championship is now wide open with five different race winners and only 3 points separating first and second at the top of the table at the midway point of the season. Next up, the series travels to the ultrafast Kirkistown Race Circuit in Northern Ireland where the cars reach speeds of up 140mph on the straights. It’s going to be hell for leather from here on out, one thing is for sure, the championship never disappoints and it certainly has no intentions of doing so.

 

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