Limerick's Paul O'Connell scores impressive Mondello Park win

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Limerick's Paul O'Connell scores impressive Mondello Park win

Limerick man Paul O'Connell, from Crecora, grabbed a win in the Finnstown Castle Hotel Formula BOSS championship at Mondello Park Picture: Cregor Elliot

LIMERICK'S Paul O'Connell and Cian Carey from Meath took a win apiece as the Finnstown Castle Hotel Formula BOSS championship finally got underway after lockdown at Mondello Park

Carey grabbed pole for both races in qualifying but a poor getaway in race one saw him drop to fourth place as Crecora man O'Connell, Eamon Matheson and Barry Rabbitt all got the better of the Dallara F3 into the first corner.

Matheson almost grabbed the lead as he rocketed down the inside off the line but was held off by O'Connell. The midfield battle was led by Galways Joe Courtney from Silvie Mullins from Clare and Peter Dwyer. Derek Daly, another Clareman, picked up several places passing Michael Roche and Fergus Faherty who both dropped to the back on the opening lap.

O'Connell was quick to build while Rabbitt and Carey spent a lap behind Matheson who was super fast on the straights but not as quick through the corners. The pair got past together before Carey moved up to second by with a good move on Rabbitt a lap later.

Roche and Faherty were soon making their way back through the field. Matheson started to struggle and he was soon passed by Courtney. Gary Graham, John Stewart, and Mark Dempsey were all running together and swapping places lap after lap.

Carey started to close in on the lead and he was soon on the gearbox of the Dallara World Series. The pace was such at the front they were soon lapping cars down the back.

O'Connell’s rear tyres were well past their best at this stage allowing Carey to close up and a great defensive battle ensued. The safety car was deployed due to a car stopped in a dangerous position and the race was stopped with the win going to O'Connell. Rabbitt finished 3rd while Courtney kept ahead of Matheson to finish in 4th.

Roche held off Faherty and Peter Dwyer to get a 6th place, his best result in a long time. Daly and Graham rounded out the top ten with the result declared after only 8 laps.

There was drama at the start of race 2 as O'Connell stalled when the lights went out, thankfully the grid of cars behind all avoided the Limerick man as he sat helpless on the grid.

An electrical issue meant the car would not restart until 3 minutes into the race. Pole sitter Carey again was slow away and Matheson led into the first corner, he kept the lead for 2 laps.

Rabbitt slotted in behind Carey and even led briefly when he got in front as the pair passed Matheson at Southside corner but Carey took the lead on the run to turn 3.

Faherty changed his set up for race 2 and the car was much more to his liking. He held his position at the start before he passed Courtney a few laps in with Mullins in tow.

Roche and Michael Connolly were next on the road Tom Gaughan had missed the opening race with a broken drive shaft and was soon making progress in the Radical, he jumped 3 places on the opening lap and showed good pace before the car let him down again and he was forced to retire.

Shane Rabbitt also missed the opener with a brake problem but a good start saw him pass Dwyer. He drove a steady race and was under pressure from Gaughan but holding him off before his retirement.

Michael Connolly was another who only made the grid for race two after issues with the Radical early in the day.

The team of O'Connell got the car started but he joined the action three laps down, he put in some great lap times that would have been almost good enough to beat the class lap record but was well out of contention due to not being able to restart immediately.

Carey concentrated on building his lead which was extended lap by lap and Rabbitt in the Formula Renault just didn't have the pace to stay with him and was now seeing Faherty getting closer in the mirrors.

Mullins, Courtney, and Roche had breathing space around them and drove their own race. Further back Graham, Daly and Stewart were running in close order and swapped places in an entertaining battle.

Matheson was struggling with the car and going back down the order.
Carey took the flag to win after 17 laps with a lead of 12 seconds over Rabbitt with Faherty filling the podium.

Mullins was 4th from Courtney and Roche. Shane Rabbbitt finished 7th with Connolly, Matheson and Dwyer rounding out the top ten.

Credit Cregor Elliot for the photo.