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25/09/2021

Limerick driver Paul O'Connell just fails in his bid to retain Leinster Trophy

Limerick

Paul O’Connell at the Crosslé Chicane. PIC: Graham Ballam-Curry

LIMERICK driver Paul O'Connell just fell short in his quest to retain the famed Leinster Trophy.

Saturday’s meeting took place at Kirkistown Circuit in County Down.

Just before lunch was the first BOSS Ireland race. These Big Open Single Seater racing cars were what many of the extra spectators had come to see and hear.  Thirteen of these rocket ships took to the grid. 

Pole setter, Paul O’Connell, from Crecora and driving a Dallara GP2, initially fell behind Ballyvaughan driver, Sylvie Mullins, in his Gould GR37 but by the end of the first lap he was in the lead and pulling away.

Dungiven’s Gerard O’Connell, driving a Dallara World Series, initially dropped behind Michael Roche, from New Ross, driving a Dallara F306, but retook fourth place on lap 3, which became third when Mullins retired.

On lap 7 he passed Gaughran for second before he, too, retired. From that point onwards the race became an exciting speed and noise spectacle with little further passing moves.

At the end Paul O’Connell won by 32 seconds from Aaron Gaughran. Michael Roche was a further 13 seconds behind. These were the only three on the same lap.

Later in the day came the second BOSS Ireland encounter and this time The Leinster Trophy was the prize!

Once again, thirteen of these rocket ships took the start.

Sylvie Mullins initially took the lead from Paul O’Connell. Aaron Gaughran slotted into third position.

On lap 3, O’Connell passed Mullins and began to pull away at around one second per lap. By lap 6, Fildes had got his Lola up to fourth place. On lap 11 he was disputing third place with Aaron Gaughran. This battle continued until lap 16, when he finally made the pass stick and he was now third.  

Meanwhile O’Connell had increased his lead to around 15 seconds but he was still pushing hard. It was probably too hot a day for it but the lap record was, at least, a long shot. On lap 20, O’Connell accelerated slightly too hard on the exit of Maguire’s Hairpin and the car spun, not hitting anything but finishing its pirouette parked in the centre of the track, at right angles to oncoming traffic, with the engine stalled. Double waved yellow flags were shown on the entrance and mid-corner but cars were still having to make some frightening moves to avoid the stricken Dallara. One lap later, the red flags were out and the race was over.

The winner of The Leinster Trophy was a delighted Sylvie Mullins in his Gould GR37. This was probably the first time anywhere in the World, and most definitely in Ireland, that a Hill Climb car has won a motor race! Second place, after an amazing recovery drive, was Jonathan Fildes in his Lola T96/50. Third place went to Aaron Gaughran in his Dallara F317.

When asked after the race what had happened, Paul O’Connell was totally magnanimous in defeat. He said that he just pushed too hard and made a mistake. However, he was massively pleased that Sylvie had won, saying that because the amount of work that Sylvie and his team had put into the Gould to make it a racing car, they deserved every ounce of their success.

The next event at Kirkistown will be another gem, with The Martin Donnelly Trophy for Formula Ford 1600s and the Emerson Fittipaldy Trophy for Formula Vees being awarded. It all takes place on Saturday September 25.  

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