Monoposto Rds 11, 12 & 13 - Donington Park - 18/19th September
The Leastone team rounded out the 2021 Monoposto regular season at Donington Park, with 3 races over a jammed pack weekend. Testing was held on Thursday, allowing Karl O’Brien to experience the Grand Prix circuit for the first time, but an unfortunate head gasket issue early in the running meant he only completed a handful of laps at the end of the day.
This frustration would roll over into qualifying, where a battery failure limited him to a single lap and left him languishing in 31st place on a packed Monoposto grid for Race 1. Morgan McCourt enjoyed a better session, logging a time good enough for the 8th row overall and 5th in the Monomoto 1000 class. Race 1 Rolling starts were the order of the day, given the volume of cars on track but this would limit Karls ability to gain some spots on the opening lap. He made a steady jump all the same, slotting into 22nd by end of lap 1. Morgan held station in 16th as the mid field developed into a tight battle among multiple cars. This would continue for the duration of the race, with Morgan shuffling up and down the order. By the mid point, Karl had caught up with his teammate and navigated that battle to pull himself up to 14th overall. At that point of the race, the field ahead was a bit more strung out and further progress was going to be a challenge. This turned out to be a moot point however, when a suspension issue struck 2 laps from home and forced him to retire. Morgan continued to enjoy a hectic battle to the flag, slipping down the overall order to 19th, but snatching a class top 5 in the process.
Race 2 Karl was hoping that the rule of 3 applied to his bad luck for the weekend but the silver lining was that the grid for Race 2 was decided on Race 1 fastest laps, meaning he would line up 13th overall, with Morgan in 19th. Conditions we tricky, with a wet but drying track greeting the drivers on Sunday morning. Morgan and Karl split tyre strategy, with Morgan preferring the safer option of wets and Karl taking a punt on slicks, in the hope the track would dry out.
It was roughly a 50/50 split for the grid as to who took wets or slicks and Karl had to be extremely careful in the opening laps, when the track was at its most treacherous. Morgan reaped the benefits of the wet set up to snatch a few places in the opening laps but shortly after the midway point of the race, the advantage turned to the slick shod runners. As Morgan began to slip back, Karl put on a charge and scythed his way up to 4th overall and 2nd in class. The class leader was struggling badly on wets right at race end but Karl ran out of laps to ever mount any proper challenge. Morgan unfortunately continued to slip down the order, eventually crossing the line 9th in class and 21st overall.
Race 3 Tyre choice was no issue for the final race of the season, with the track now fully dry. The grid for this race was decided also by the previous races fastest lap so Karl would line up 3rd with Morgan back in 21st. Morgans lowly grid slot would contribute to his downfall, when he was caught up in a multi car shunt at the Melbourne hairpin on the opening lap.
It was going to be tough for Karl to fend of some of the more powerful machinery, given his giant killing performance in Race 2, but he held firm in 4th for the opening laps, helped by the safety car being deployed to clear up the incident that Morgan was tangled up in. When the race got going proper, Karl settled himself into a good rhythm and held his own for much of the race. Naturally he slipped down the order to 7th overall, but was still on course for his second class podium for the weekend.
He would bring his Global Service Centre Leastone 1000 home in 3rd place on the road but was later promoted to 2nd when a competitor was given a time penalty for a yellow flag infringement.
‘It was looking like a frustrating weekend early on, as we had multiple gremlins hiding in the car. But it was great to see the turnaround in Race 2. Tyre selection was spot on and I really enjoyed making progress through the field. I knew race 3 would be tough, given that we were essentially out of position but again, it was very enjoyable to chip away at my fastest lap and end up with more silverware!’ said a delighted O’Brien at the end of the weekend.
That wraps the regular Monoposto championship but the team will now turn their attention to the Tiedeman Trophy, with is a 6 round Autumn series for Monoposto cars which will see the team visit Snetterton 300, Oulton Park International and Silverstone National circuits. Karl will contend all events for the trophy, which will even see a special return by team boss Paul Heavey in a second 1000!
Monoposto Tiedeman Trophy Calendar
Snetterton 300 – 3rd October
Oulton Park International – 23rd October
Silverstone National – 7th November