Monoposto Rd 1/2/3 - Snetterton 300 - April 23/24th
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the 2022 Monoposto championship got underway at Snetterton last weekend, where the Leastone team fielded a full time 3 car team for the first time in their Monoposto history. Karl O’Brien returned to the series looking to build on his solid debut season, while championship stalwart Morgan McCourt returned for his 4th full time campaign. They were joined by David Heavey, who was making a full time return for the first time since 2006, when he last raced in Ireland.
Testing went well for the trio, with good pace on show, however Heavey was struggling with an electrical gremlin which would cause his 1000 to shut off after 3 laps. The issue would continue in qualifying, but not before he set a time good enough to join Karl on the front row, with Karl logging a spectacular pole lap. Morgan carried over his testing form to grab himself a slot on the inside of row 3.
Both Karl and Dave managed good getaways and held station over the opening couple of laps. Similarly, Morgan had a solid start and was focused on a battle for 4th, which became a battle for 3rd by lap 3, when the gremlin climbed into Heaveys engine bay again and forced him to park on the exit of Palmer. At the head of the field, Karl was battling to hold onto his lead but eventually surrendered shortly after the half way point of the race. He kept the pressure on however, and even managed to launch an outside attempt at Brundle late in the race, but he ultimately fell short and had to settle for 2nd. As always, traffic was an issue late in the race and Morgan took a conservative approach to tackling the backmarkers which meant his podium challenge faded and he would open his 2022 account with a solid 4th place.
With grid positions decided by race fastest lap, Karl, David and Morgan lined up 2nd, 3rd and 4th for Race 2 and despite a rogue sensor being the cause of Heaveys earlier troubles, he was put on the back foot during the warm up lap when the gear selector malfunctioned and left him stuck in 2nd gear.
While the team saw to his dramas in the pitlane, Karl got a great launch from second to snatch the lead on the run into Montreal. He enjoyed a good fight over the opening laps but dropped into second and began to lose touch with the leader, signaling that all was not well within his Global Tyre Centre 1000. A misfire, which got progressively worse, saw him slump to 5th overall by the mid point of the race. He switched to preservation mode and focused on getting the car home to ensure some valuable championship points.
Morgan resumed his race 1 podium battle, which lasted the majority of the race until his competitor suffered a clash with a backmarker. This meant that Morgan was left alone for a comfortable run to 2nd at the flag. Despite Karls issues, he managed to hold onto 5th and crucially, 3rd in class. A handful of trips to the pits for Heavey saw the team come up with an intermediary fix, which was critical to his Race 3 grid position, as it allowed him a couple of flying laps to set a time which would see him on the front row for the weekends final event.
Karls weekend unfortunately ended on a sour note, as it was apparent on the warm-up lap that the teams efforts between races did not cure his engine problem. He was forced to pit at the end of the warm-up lap while the team investigated further. Heavey got a decent start but was not in a position to challenge for the lead, so he settled into second place and focused on seeing the chequered flag. He was able to maintain a good buffer back to 3rd place, somewhat thanks to Morgan again attacking from 4th place during the opening laps.
His challenge fell away in the mid-point and both he and Heavey had a somewhat lonely remainder of the race, managing the gaps around them. Morgan would manage to take the final podium slot in the latter stages of the race when the 3rd placed car hit engine trouble and he was able to sweep by.
With many podiums between the 3 cars, the team left Snetterton somewhat frustrated by what could have been but still happy with the solid start to the 2022 season. They now have 4 weeks to get on top of the issues prior to the next double header at the historic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on May 20/21st.