Rounds three and four of the Irish Auto Parts.ie Future Classics Championship brought the drivers to Bishopscourt race circuit in county Down.
The series, which caters for Production Saloons, Hatchbacks, Coupes, Estates and GT cars up to the year 2004, brought a strong grid of competitors for the weekend.
Rounds one and two which were in Kirkistown, saw Gareth Thompson and Aidan Byrne in their Toyota Celicas share the spoils in the Super Future Classics. In the Future Classics class saw a dominant performance from Gary Duggan in his Fiat Punto. So these were the men to beat going into qualifying for rounds 3 and 4 in Bishopscourt.
Anthony Kelly did just that by taking pole position in his Honda Civic from series newcomer Brian Sexton in hid Toyota Celica to lock out the front row of the Super Future Classics.
Kevin Cahill in his Peugeot 205 and Stephen Martin in his Fiat Punto headed the front row of the Future Classics grid.
In Super Future Classics race one Anthony Kelly in his Honda Civic and Brian Sexton in his ex- Ken Byrne Toyota Celica broke away from the field early on. Championship leader Gareth Thompson in his Toyota Celica found himself in a race long, four car battle with Aidan Byrne, Ger Byrne and Mike Dermody in their Toyota Celica, BMW 323i and Vauxhall Vectra respectively.
Sexton led for the majority of the race until Kelly made a move with four laps to go. All to no avail for both however, as they both broke the barrier time, giving themselves time penalties. This insured both would drop down the field ending in fourth and fifth respectively and giving another win to Gareth Thompson. Thompson took the win with Aidan Byrne second and Ger Byrne third.
In the Future Classics Gary Duggan added another win to his tally this year but it was not as easy as that as he had to start from the back of the field, having broken the barrier time in qualifiyng. Having got to the lead he had to fend off Paul Flansgan also in his Fiat Punto and only 0.3 seconds coverd both men crossing the line. Brent Hughes in his Mazda MX5 finished in third.
For race two of the Super Future Classics Thompson got his Toyota Celica off the line best and led the field into turn one. A daring move at the start of lap two though, by Brian Sexton passing both Thompson and Kelly, around the outside as they went into turn one saw the Kildare man take the lead. A repeat of race one evolved as Sexton and Kelly pulled clear again of the field. In this race however Thompson pulled a gap of 3.248 seconds on Byrne and held it to the chequered flag. Again and not surprisingly Sexton and Kelly broke the barrier time again dropping them down the field, with sexton finishing in 10th place and Kelly in 8th.
In the Future Classics race two Gary Duggan added to his earlier win. This time though he had to fend off Jimmy Kilbride in his Peugeot 106 but pulled a gap of 2.021 seconds by the finish. Paul Flanagan had to settle for third this time finishing a further 4.5 seconds behind Kilbride.
The two races were some of the best of the weekend if the penalties were taken out of the equation, but Gareth Thompson has now started to build a healthy championship lead for himself, which could grow even more if the opposition are not careful.
Words and image’s by Barry Cregg.