The Inaugural FIM Mini GP Ireland Series raced into Mondello Park on the weekend of August 28th and 29th and it was once again one of the highlights of a Masters Superbike Championship event. The three closely fought races produced three different winners, with Josh O’Brien taking maximum points from the weekend, ahead of Championship leader Brian Hamilton and newcomer Jack Burrows.
The 10 to 14 year old racers were faced with another new challenge on their return to County Kildare, as they were to race on a different track layout from their last visit to Mondello Park. O’Brien, Finnan Wherity and Burrows adapted best to the challenge to line up on the front row of the grid, while series leader Brian Hamilton had to start from the back following mechanical issues in qualifying.
With Hamilton having to work his way through the field it was Burrows and O’Brien who battled for the win throughout race one. The youngsters swapped the lead a number of times as they pulled clear of Wherity, who was dropping back into the hands of the recovering Hamilton. The points leader was up to third by half distance but was too far back from the leaders to progress any further. At the front Burrows and O’Brien were locked together throughout and it was the series newcomer who made the decisive move, on the last lap, to take a debut victory. O’Brien had to settle for second and the consolation of fastest lap and pole position for race two.
Race two saw the top riders from the first encounter line-up on the front row. Hamilton made the best of the start to lead the first couple of laps before O’Brien fought back to briefly take the lead. Lapping quicker than in the first race the top two pulled out a small advantage over Burrows with Hamilton once again taking over at the front. As the leaders tackled the final lap O’Brien managed to move ahead and looked set for the win until he slowed dramatically crossing the finish line, handing the win to Hamilton by less than a tenth of a second. Burrows came home third ahead of Matt Davidson and Wherity.
O’Brien and Hamilton went at it again in race three, knocking another second off the lap record as they battled for the lead. Burrows was unable to match their pace on this occasion as they pulled well clear of the field. O’Brien shadowed Hamilton all the way and made the decisive move half way around the penultimate lap to take his third race win of the season and overall victory. Hamilton’s second place put him second on aggregate with Burrows taking a magnificent podium on his first weekend in the FIM series. Finnan Wherity kept up his championship challenge by salvaging fourth place overall.
As the series moves into its second half, the riders will head for Athboy Karting Centre in County Meath in two weeks time. Hamilton will go there with a nine point advantage over Wherity with O’Brien just three points further back, despite having missed a round. With three races to go, the top three positions are still wide open with anyone of a dozen riders still in contention for a place at the FIM MiniGP World Final in Spain in October.