Race Blogs

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Mondello Park - Round 6

Drying conditions were going to make things tricky for the opening race of round number 6, and I decided not to risk too much starting from 6th on the grid, getting up to 5th at the end of the opening lap. As I got a feel for the conditions as the race wore on, I picked up the speed and the positions, going on to pass all cars one by one and heading on to secure a comfortable victory.


After the first race there was a collision with another competitor as I was turning into Parc Fermé, causing a lot of damage to the front of the car. Dad worked his magic and got the car ready for the start of the race, although I would have to start from pit lane which wasn't ideal! The charge was on, the red mist came down, and I fired out of the pits when given the go ahead, and set about catching the pack. I quickly worked my way up into 5th after two laps, but the leaders had built a good margin. The car came alive; I broke the lap record three times and in the process climbed up into 2nd by the chequered flag. A great fight back which was great fun! 


Starting from 7th in the final, I had a reasonable start, again 5th at the end of the opener. It took me a little while to get into 3rd, but once there I set about catching the leaders of #9 and #95. Again I broke my earlier lap record, shaving another 1/10th off of it and lowering it by an overall margin of 3/10ths to a 1:03.3. I passed Niki with 4 laps to go and tried everything in my powers to pass Paul but it was to no avail; missing out on the line by 0.04 of a sec! 


But overall the results were good enough to take the win and push the title fight onto the finale, also at Mondello on October 9. Thanks to my team and sponsors for another great weekend!


Points


1. #9 Paul O'Brien            3275

2. #6 James Holman       3162.5

3 #10 Jonathan Taylor      2575

4 #95 Niki Meredith          2552.5

5 #29 Ian Conroy              2345

6 #16 Gordon Brown         1550


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Interview after taking the win in round 4

Mondello Park International - Rounds 3 & 4


The Championship moved back to Mondello for one of its two double header events of the season, and it took place on the 2.3 mile International version of the circuit, a configuration which I hadn't run on before, so practice again was crucial ahead of the races later in the day. Practice went ok, ending up 4th quickest of the 13 cars on circuit.


The grid ball draw saw me line up on pole, and immediately the action saw me have some gear selection issues. I kept battling hard despite some hairy moments including when in 3rd which almost saw me visit the scenery. That dropped me to 4th behind #1 Paterson, #9 O'Brien and #95 Meredith. I closed back up to the group again heading onto the last lap, and another gear selection problem meant that is what I had to settle for. After the race the team diagnosed the problem, the chassis has broken where the gear lever is mounted and repairs were rapidly undertaken.


The reverse 2nd race saw me line up 10th on the grid, and after a good initial start where I had got up into 6th, a big crash happened in front of me two corners later meaning I had to take avoiding action. The race had to be red-flagged however, and as we sat in the pit lane, the heavens opened deluging the track meaning there was going to be an exciting race ahead of us! I got a great start - an even better one than the original race, moving into 4th, only to get promptly taken out by the #9 car, thankfully I just missed the gravel and there was no damage of note so I re-joined, albeit in 12th place. I carved my way through to 4th by the end, so a reasonable recovery drive there.


From the results of the two races, I lined up 7th for the final (races 1 & 2 combined then positions reversed) and had a steady start followed by one of my strongest opening laps in my career, and I overtook car after car culminating in taking the lead at the end of the opening lap. I built up a reasonable lead, around 1.5 seconds to the #95, and Niki was flying and caught me as we entered the final lap. I drove a great defensive lap only for the chassis to brake again and my gear selection issue to haunt me allowing Niki through with 4 corners left. Gutting way to end the day. I ended up finishing 3rd overall on the day, losing a little bit of ground to both my championship rivals.


Round 4 on the Sunday began with a damp practice, but the track was soon dry for racing. I drew 7th in the ball draw, and the initial start was a bit messy with some cars heading off road to bring out the red flags once again. Two of the cars in front were not to take the restart and the race would be shortened by 1 lap effectively. Starting from 5th, things got tight between myself and the #95 and #1. A great battle ensued over the opening lap, and I came out on top getting into 3rd. There was a gap ahead to the two leaders which I set about hunting down. On lap 3 I passed the #46 to get into 2nd. There was still a gap to the leader, #10 Jonny Taylor. I put a great lap in to catch him going on to the final lap and then put a great move around the outside in turn 1 to take the lead. Close behind was Niki, a little too close out of turn 2 as we briefly made contact. I had to drive defensively like in Saturday's final, but this time I wasn't to be denied by technical problems and I held on for a great win.

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A joint top step - you don't see that often in Motorsport!

Kirkistown - Round 2

Having never been to the Northern Irish venue before, practice was going to be reasonably important for a change to get up to speed for the upcoming races. The forecast was dry, however just as we headed onto circuit a sharp shower hit, meaning that no dry running was possible. 2nd fastest wasn't bad for a first attempt however.


Having pulled 4th in the grid draw, my main focus was learning the circuit in the dry as quickly as possible. It was a tricky start; I had to go wide to miss an incident in front in the first corner but i remained 4th. By lap 4 I had worked my way in to the lead, and then started to build a small gap. I lost that gap when the car developed a small gear selection issue, then I became embroiled in a 4 way battle for the win heading on to the last lap. I got baulked by Ivor (#37) after he had a moment, allowing #9 O'Brien past. All I could do was follow the #9 through in 2nd in the end, just missing out on victory by 0.17 of a sec.


The 2nd heat saw me start 5th. After a solid start I got up to 4th at the end of the opening lap. I took advantage of Ivor and Niki battling to take them bothand move into P2, then set about catching O'Brien in the lead. Niki was pushing me hard and bump drafted us both past into the lead. He then slipped by on lap 6, then I got back through going on to the last lap in the tight hairpin - the final corner. I then drove defensively all lap, coming up to the the final corner I stayed on the inside defensive line. Niki then switched back on the exit and it was a drag race to the line. We took the flag together...in fact absolutely together as we recorded the circuits first ever dead heat in its 63 year history! A great race!


As the lead points scorer, I started 8th, and after a fraught couple of laps, a crash for the #37 brought out the red flags. A complete restart was required and I made good progress only to make a silly mistake and drop back down through the field. I quickly made my back through and got involved in a mighty scrap for 2nd between #8 Des Foley and Niki. After many changes in position I managed to get the better of the pair and recorded a 2nd place finish.


Overall, this meant 2nd for the day, and a lap record set in race 2. Up to 3rd in the championship as it shapes up to be a 3 way scrap between Paul, Niki and myself. The next event is back at Mondello on the international circuit with the Scottish series coming over to visit, the racing promises to be fantastic! Thanks to the team for a great job!




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James pipping Niki Meredith to the line!

Mondello Park - Round 1

Mondello Park was the venue as the Irish Legends Championship officially got underway for its inaugural season. After going quickest in practice, the grid draw saw me line up 2nd alongside Niki Meredith, not only one of my main championship competitors, but also my brother-in-law! So it should be an interesting season in the family! :)


After a good start where I slotted in P2, I got the lead at the beginning of lap 2, and despite heavy pressure from Niki I managed to control the race just keeping far enough infront at all times, enabling me to create a little of history by becoming Irish Legends first ever race winner.


The 2nd race I lined up 7th, and had a solid start moving into 5th. On the next lap I went for a slightly ambitious move around the outside of two cars in a fast 4th gear corner, and unfortunately disaster struck as there was contact which resulted in myself being put into the gravel and the end of the race. A disappointing early end to the race there. 


Due to my DNF I lined up 2nd for the final. I got unlucky going into the first corner as the #8 car of Des Foley, who was directly behind me on the grid, had a brake problem which forced me off the road in turn 1. So down to last and behind my championship rivals, I had a lot of work to do; by lap 3 I had got my way back into 2nd place from 9th and started to close on race leader Niki Meredith. What evolved over the next 7 laps of action was a classic defence vs attack duel. I just could not find a way through despite my best efforts until we headed towards the final lap where a small mistake out of the final corner gave me the chance I needed to make my move stick and I defended just enough to beat Niki by 0.017 secs!


With the DNF in race it put me 5th overall as the series heads to Kirkistown on April 23 - a new track for me to visit!




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James leading at Snetterton

Snetterton Rounds 14 & 15

Race 1 saw me finish 4th, race 2 5th and the final 4th to give me 470 points, and joint 2nd on points on the day. The tiebreaker went against me and I ended up the day 3rd overall.

Round 15 was a better day with finishes of 3rd, 3rd and 5th giving me a total of 500 points, and overall victory, which was crucial in terms of the championship, moving up to 2nd position and within striking distance of the leader heading into the final weekend at Brands Hatch in November. Round 15 is becoming a lucky one for me, having won in 2014 too!

Here are the standings ahead of the finale, with only the top 3 drivers now in the fight for the title.

1. John Mickel 7360
2. James Holman 6700
3. Ben Power 6485
4. Daniel McKay 5675
5. Matthew Pape 5285
6. John Paterson 5265

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Heading towards Copse

Silverstone Rounds 12 & 13

Truck racing returned to Silverstone for the first time in 30 years, and the Legends pack were in action for the first time since 2012, and the crowds were enormous all weekend.

I drew 7th place for the opening race, and after a great opening lap I took the lead. The nature of Silverstone with it being so fast and wide means that leading isn't necessarily the best place to be as it nigh on impossible to break the tow, and I duly lost the lead on the next lap. I then grabbed the lead back for the next couple of laps. Mickel and Paterson worked together to get past me, and we all swapped places many times, in the end I had to settle for 2nd, 0.09 off the winner.

The reverse grid 2nd heat saw me line up 10th, and a good opening lap meant I progressed up to 5th by the end of lap 1. It was a 5 way scrap between the top 5 runners in the championship, and it was a classic Legends drafting race once again, this time I came to the flag in 3rd position. I also set a new lap record at that point of the meeting, clocking a 1:08.716 at an average speed of 85.94 mph.

As the 2nd highest qualifier I lined up 16th, and had a great opening lap, getting up to 9th. Progress was tough in this race, as the top 14 cars jostled for position throughout the race, and I had to draw on all my experience to make further progress. By the flag I managed to climb into 4th position, which gave me a great haul of 515 points from a possible 600, meaning I finished the day 2nd overall. A good opening day!

I drew 13th for the opening race of round 13, which I hoped wasn't to be a bad omen! The start was tricky, getting boxed in, and progress was slow initially. Progress was quick mid race, shooting up to 5th, however the safety car was brought out when a massive incident for John Paterson occurred, rolling at well in excess of a 100mph. Thankfully Pat was fine and two laps later racing recommenced with me in 4th. As my bumper was damaged I was left friendless in the bump draft battle and had to hang on best I could to finish 5th.

I lined up 6th for heat two and after a great start I led the opening lap. I then fell into a three way battle between Mickel and Norwegian Tommy Ostgaard. With Mickel being faster on the long straights, I settled for 2nd spot in the hope of launching a late attack. On the last lap I had a look, but John defended well and I had to settle for 2nd once again this weekend.

After the two heats I was 3rd highest scorer and lined up 14th. Progress was tricky in the opening phase of the race; every decision I made seemed to be the wrong one and no places were made. After that I did start to come through the pack a little, and it was on lap 4 where I'd make my mark, as cars in front duelled feverishly I spotted a gap on the inside of Brooklands and passed 4 in one go. Then I teamed up with the #91 of Daniel McKay and we pushed out way through to 2nd and 3rd next time around. We then worked together to try and catch the leader in the remaining laps but it wasn't to be, we came up 0.1 of a second short and I had to settle for 3rd. That result though was good enough to elevate me into 2nd overall on the day with a 505 points haul. A good weekend all in all. With just Snetterton and Brands to go this is how the points stand:

1 John Mickel - - 6355
2 Ben Power - 55- 5745
3James Holman - 6- 5730
4 Daniel McKay - 91- 4930
5 John Paterson - 3- 4515
6 Euan McKay - 91- 4400

Thanks to the team for their hard work and continued support throughout the season thus far!




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Post race at Donington

Donington Rounds 10 & 11

I drew 15th for the opening race, and after a quiet opening lap, progress was swift in the next three laps moving up into the top 6. I set about closing the gap to the lead group, and having moved up to 5th on lap 6, disaster struck and I had an electrical failure which put me out of the race.


Eager to make amends for race 1, I started 6th, and made swift progress up to 3rd at the end of the opening lap. By lap 3 I was leading and a fierce battle was on! Positions swapping with the McKay brothers and Mickel ensued, but after a great move worked in my favour I took the lead heading into the last lap, but with the nature of Donington being so fast, I couldn't prevent the group behind working to catch me and would have to settle for 2nd at the flag.


I lined up 11th for the final, and after a reasonable initial start where I made a few places, contact was made between another driver and myself, dropping me down the order but able to continue, albeit with bent steering. On my comeback however, there was an unfortunate incident at 120 mph which sent me spearing into the barriers. I managed to get going again much to amazement of the crowd, and finished 19th for some valuable points. Not the best day overall then!


Sunday dawned, and a change of weather was in the air as the cars were lining up. Rain fell whilst in assembly, a couple of drivers gambled on wets, but we elected to stay on drys. It was clear on the out lap that the gamblers would be successful as rain fell further, but as the action began, starting 15th, I made a strong start ending up the opening lap 8th. Next lap round would see me up into 5th after some daring overtakes in the Craner Curves, and from therein progress was thwarted, eventually ending up 4th.


The rain intensified between races, and the track resembled a swimming pool out there! Starting 6th I made a solid start, climbing into 2nd. I had a great race long battle with former Scottish Champion Ben Mason, which I was successful in, however current Scottish Champion John Paterson slipped past on lap 6, and I had to settle for 3rd at the flag.


As 3rd highest qualifier I lined up 17th, and conditions seemed impossibly worse than before. I decided on a cautious approach as visibility was near zero. I worked my way steadily through the field, and with help of a mid race safety car, my pace was strong at the end, and 5th would be the final result, giving me 3rd overall on the day, a nice way to bounce back after an unlucky Saturday. Donington never had been the kindest place to myself or the team over the years, and it was great to break the hoodoo a little! 


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Anglesey Rounds 8 & 9

For the first race I drew plum last on the grid out of the championship runners putting me in 20th. I made a good start and was up to 12th by the end of the opening lap. Progress was pretty good thereafter, getting upto 4th on to the last lap. On the last lap I got boxed in the lead group and just lost a spot, but 20th to 5th was a good result nonetheless.


The reverse grid meant I lined up pole. And from there I was relatively untroubled in the opening laps, building up a nice lead of around 2 secs. Daniel McKay in the #91 began to catch up to me as my lack of top speed began to cause problems. As a result I was powerless to defend, but a 9 sec gap behind meañt I had a comfortable ride to 2nd position.


I qualified the final as 2nd highest qualifier and therefore lined up 19th. The conditions had also changed as the rain had moved in. I decided that with the change of conditions, to take things steady. I was up to 14th at the end of the opening lap and I kept on picking up positions lap after lap, until I was up to 6th on 8th tour. Then I became embroiled in a great scrap with #3 Paterson and #24 Pape. Eventually I squeezed past both of them on lap 10, and with the gap in front too large to my brother in law Niki Meredith who had driven fantastically, I settled for 4th (3rd place points with Niki not scoring as a guest).


This meant we'd done enough to take overall victory for the day, a great day's racing! 


The sunshine returned for round 9, and in the grid draw I pulled 17th. The video of the opening 5 laps is in the top left of this race report, but I can safely say they were probably the best laps in Legends I'd had, carving my way through the pack to take the lead. Afterwards the race became tricky with the McKay brothers working together bump drafting past me on the straights. I had to pull a courageous move to split them and then next time round took the lead. On the last lap however the tow was just too much and I succumbed to end up finishing 2nd. I also broke the lap record by half a second, and in the process being the first man into the 1:18's at Anglesey with a time of 1:18.642.


Starting from 6th on the grid for race 2, I made a reasonable start, the pace was high on the front as all the championship contenders were at the sharp end. It was a great fight between the top 5 cars in the championship, and after a frantic race I ended up in 2nd position once again.


As highest qualifier I lined up 20th. On the opening lap another driver lost control hit Niki who hit me. I managed to hold on and after having to miss another couple of crashes along the way around the opening tour, I ended up towards the back. I then charged my way through the pack ending up at P7 at the flag. However the contact earlier had left my bumper broken and as such I was harshly disqualified from the results. It cost us a historic double, but we move onto Donington next with car and driver in good form and still in P2 in the championship. 


Thanks to all my team and sponsors for their continuing support! 

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