The Leastone team were back in action at Bishopscourt last weekend for rounds 2 and 3 of the Irish Formula Vee championship. Following a tough opening weekend, Brendan O’Brien and Kevin Cahill were out to make amends and were joined by Mark Reade who had a handful of impressive outings during the 2015 season. Qualifying was held in torrential rain, making it difficult for Cahill and Reade to learn the 1.8 mile Northern Irish circuit, a task made all the more difficult with a lack of testing prior to race day. Despite this, Reade was fastest of the Crowne Plaza runners, with teammate O’Brien lining up 8th. Kevin managed a time good enough for 3rd in the Finol Star of Tomorrow class, putting him in good position to attack for the class win.
The first of the two rounds say similar conditions to qualifying, and Reade, who qualified 3rd overall, had a strong opening lap, jumping up to 2nd and breaking away with the lead group. Kevin and Brendan had similarly good opening laps from deep in the pack, while showing caution in the difficult conditions. Brendan’s poor luck for 2016 continued, with a misfire developing close to half way point. It progressively got worse eventually forcing him into the pits to retire.
Things were going smoother for his teammates, although Mark had dropped to 3rd overall, Kevin had moved himself into the lead of the Finol Star of Tomorrow group. The remainder of the race was uneventful for both drivers, Reade settling into a steady rhythm and bringing the Total Leastone home for not only his first class win but also his first Formula Vee podium. Kevin continued his strong early pace to take his own class win by just over 1.5 seconds.
Race 2 conditions could not have been any different, with glorious sunshine soaking the former Northern Irish airfield, putting Cahill and Reade on the backfoot, having no previous dry running to draw on. Unfortunately Brendan O’Brien had even bigger problems, despite the teams efforts in the break between races. His misfire recurred at the end of lap two, forcing him to park the car once again. Mark got a decent start to run third, but a red flag forced a restart prior to the end of the first lap and on the second time of asking, he dropped to 6th. Kevin managed two decent starts, and was embroiled in a hard fought battle with the Finol Star of Tomorrow runners before the class leaders made a break.
Reade managed to elevate himself to 5th overall, but the lead pack had already pulled away. Despite a furious ongoing battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, Mark was unable to gain any ground as the Bishopscourt’s fast and flowing layout lends itself to Kirkistown slipstreaming battles, meaning the group were not tripping over themselves too much. Kevin had a somewhat lonely run to the flag in his LiftLock Engineering JH004, adding a 3rd place in the Star of Tomorrow class to his earlier win, a vast contrast in fortune compared to the opening round.
Mark had a similarly lonely run to the flag, doubling up on his earlier Crowne Plaza win and thrusting himself into championship contention, despite missing the opening round at Kirkistown. The team now regroup before heading to home to Mondello Park, when the Vees make their sole appearance on the international circuit on June 11/12th. Both Cahill and Reade will look to build on this strong weekend, while Brendan O’Brien’s luck has to change, due to the law of averages at least!