Dublin, Ireland – Wednesday 19th March 2014: Current Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year Niall Murray got his 2014 season off to a strong start in the Bernard Dolan prepared Van Dieman Formula Ford in the opening two rounds of the Champion of Mondello Park Formula Ford series finishing second overall in race one followed by third overall in race two.
Sunday morning’s wet qualifying proved highly successful for Murray earning pole position for both of the afternoon’s races. Niall endured a difficult start during the first part of race one. Slipping down the order during lap two, Murray quickly set about working his way back up. However contact between Sean Doyle and Noel Dunne brought out the red flags after four laps.
As the race was about to be restarted, Niall had been handed a ten second jump start penalty from his start before the red flag so got his head down to try and make up for the disadvantage. Neville Smyth got away into the lead during the opening laps but a clearly determined Murray closed the gap on every lap with a string of fastest laps including a 57.9 as the eventual best, just .2 off the lap record. As the chequered flag fell Niall had done enough to secure second position even with his 10 second penalty behind race winner Smyth.
Again starting from pole position, Niall lost two places as the pack headed down to Duckhams on lap one. Some contact from behind caused Murray to drop a few more places down to 6th as they crossed the line to begin lap 2. Now up to fifth, Murray was back in battle with race one winner Neville Smyth. Once again the hard charging Niall in the Motorsport Ireland supported Van Dieman was rapidly closing the gap and began setting a string of fastest laps from the sixth lap onwards. With Noel Dunne now firmly in his sights, a superb move on lap seven at Dunlop corner briefly promoted him to fourth before Dunne took the place back in a similar move a lap later. However Niall took advantage of an ambitious dive by Sean Doyle to follow him past Dunne. On lap 11, Niall set himself up with a fantastic run out of Dunlop corner to pass Doyle in a drag race down the main straight promoting him to third where he would remain to take the chequered flag some five laps later with yet another fastest lap.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Murray reflected on a positive weekend: “This weekend was a good solid start to the year. We showed we had the pace in the wet qualifying with a comfortable pole for both races and also in the dry with fastest lap in both races, but the races just didn’t go our way unfortunately. We still got two podiums which is good for the championship and I’m looking forward to getting back out in the Motorsport Ireland, Irish Sports Council and Dunlop supported car in Kirkistown in two weeks time for the start of the All Ireland and Northern Irish Championship.”
Photo: James Foley