Mark Reade and the Leastone team kicked their title defence off at Donington Park last weekend with a win and runner up result tempered by a retirement in Race 1 due to a mechanical issue. Reade was joined by his first full time team mate in the form of Morgan McCourt, contesting the full Monoposto championship following sporadic outings over the past few years. McCourt opened his campaign with a trio of top 10 results, including a 6th place in the weekend’s final race, in tough conditions.
Reade lined up 3rd in the MonoMoto class for Race 1, with Morgan slotting into the 5th row of the bumper Monoposto grid. Both drivers had a decent opening lap, with Mark grabbing the lead in the opening few corners before being shuffled down to 3rd, while Morgan held station, settling into a 4 car battle to break into the top 10 overall.
Once the race settled down, Reade enjoyed a somewhat lonely middle period of the race, enjoying a comfortable gap over 4th place. Morgan worked his way through the tight mid field battle to slot into 8th place in class, still keeping a watching brief on the battle behind. All looked set for a solid opening haul of points for both drivers, when Mark had a driveshaft fail with 3 laps to go, robbing him of a sure podium. Morgan brought some consolation to the results sheet by securing a 7th place finish, albeit at the expense of his teammate.
Luckily, grid positions for Race 2 were decided on Race 1 fastest laps so Reade lined up 4th overall and 3rd in class for Sunday mornings event. Morgan lined up 12th overall, jumping up to 11th off the line before the safety car was deployed during the opening lap. At the head of the field, Mark vaulted to second only beaten off the line by the pole sitter who was judged to have jumped the start.
With the field neutralised, Reade was essentially in the lead following the 10 second penalty that was applied to the erstwhile leader. The lead two broke free of the pack once the safety car peeled off and knowing that the penalty had already been applied, Reade tracked the lead car by less than a second for the remainder of the race, not willing to take unnecessary risks but bagging maximum points in the process.
Morgan had elevated himself to 10th overall but had his mirrors full for the entire race, defending hard to hold onto the final top ten slot. He prevailed following an enjoyable battle, crossing the finish line just over 1 second ahead and with it, securing another 7th in class
Again, the grid was decided on fastest laps from the previous race meaning that Mark would take overall pole, with Morgan sitting on the inside of row 6. At this late stage of the day, the heavens had opened and to make matters worse, the circuit was coated in oil from an engine failure in the preceding race. A substantial clean up by the track team saw the drivers sitting on the dummy grid for over half an hour and despite a heroic effort by the circuit crew, treacherous conditions greeted the drivers once they did get rolling.
Reade was the lucky guinea pig as he converted his pole to an early lead and was left to feel his way through the oil/water mix. He was cautious in the opening stages and surrendered the lead on lap 3, pegging the leader at around 5 seconds for the balance of the race, focusing mostly on bringing the car home in the tricky conditions. Morgan made a cautious start but despite this approach he had a quick spin mid-way through the race, but still managed to secure a top 6 result to round out the weekend.
The Monoposto championship next rolls into Snetterton on the weekend of May 12/13th, on the Snetterton 300 layout.
Mark Reade – Leastone 1000 No.45 - R1 DNF/R2 P1/R3 P2
‘Great to have two strong results after the race 1 disappointment. Good to see that the car is strong again this year and the results were a just reward for Paul Heavey’s hard work in travelling across with a new driveshaft on Saturday night! Big thanks also to Ken Elliott for the use of his van for the weekend and of course to Finol Oils, Global Service Centres and P&T Hydraulics, who again have helped make this weekend possible’
Morgan McCourt – Leastone 1000 No.48 - R1 P7/R2 P7/R3 P6
'It was a really enjoyable weekend for me, getting myself back up to speed with the Leastone 1000. I had some tough battles over the weekend and was happy with all 3 races. Apart from the spin of course! I am looking forward to building on this solid start at Snetterton next time out’