Niall Quinn has won the first ever SEAT Supercup Ireland race. The Dunboyne driver took victory in Round 1 of the championship at Bishopscourt Racing Circuit over James Turkington, the Northern Ireland driver having got the intial jump on the pole sitter off the start. While Quinn would take the chequered flag by a 6-second margin, the battle of the race was for second, with Turkington seeing off a challenge from John Farrelly. The gap at the end of the 10 laps just 0.470 of a second.
Quinn was delighted to open an exciting new chapter in Irish motorsport with a win. He posted the fastest lap of the race (1:31.181), beating his pole position time. Commenting on his race the former A1GP driver said, ‘James beat me off the line and kept me honest for the first few minutes’. Quinn took back first position around the outside on the first run through Turn 1. ‘After a few laps, I found my rhythm, I was ‘able to open a nice gap, and ‘focus on bringing it home’. With the grid for Race 2 a reverse of the Race 1 result, the 26-year-old said ‘its going to be interesting’ but he was ‘looking forward to it’.
James Turkington described his start as ‘cracking’, but felt he could have forced the issue more through Turn 1 with Quinn. James was also racing his Leon Supercopa in the NI Saloons today: ‘its a long day of racing so there was no point in throwing it away, as Niall has a lot more experience and is ultimately quicker this weekend’. With a trip across the grass allowing John Farrelly to catch him, the 21-year-old then had to focus his attentions on maintaining the gap, describing the fight as a ‘good sensible battle’. Asked about the reverse grid, James said it was ‘great to finish on the first race on the podium and we’ll see where we end (of Race 2) – I’ll be trying my best for another podium’.
Farrelly started fourth on the grid and benefited from Rod McGovern being slow off the line. He made significant set-up changes to his Sean Woods Racing Leon after qualifying and was a lot happier with the car, adding ‘the car improved as the race went on’. With his lap times coming down, he was able to get behind Turkington but ‘cautious not to cause any damage, I waited for an opportunity but it didn’t happen, so I was happy to finish a sensible third’. Describing the Supercopa as superb around the high speed Bishopscourt circuit, the Dublin driver said he would be ‘more aggressive in Race 2’.
‘When the red lights went out I stayed standing’, was how Rod McGovern described his slow start. Closest to Quinn’s pace in outright lap times, his fastest lap 2/10th off, McGovern said, ‘I just wanted to keep the race clean; I didn’t force it and there was no opportunity to pass but we showed we had good pace’. With the Medical Banks backed car set to start on the front row of the grid alongside Race 2 pole sitter, Michael Cullen, the MM Motorsport driver just replied with a large grin.
Finishing a distant fifth, Michael Cullen said, ‘I have never been 2-seconds off the pace in my life’. The multiple racing champion feels he has ‘just a confidence problem with the car’. Admitting he ‘couldn’t stay with the guys’, he continued ‘everytime I pushed the car it wanted to break away. I was on the limit and I was still 1.5 seconds off’. Starting Race 2 on pole position, he said it was going to be a tall order to keep everyone behind unless they could find a set-up for the Supervalu backed Leon. Unfortunately for Cullen’s Murray Motorsport team-mate, Barry English would have to pull into the pits after the warm-up lap as his Winthrop car suffered overheating, likely to be a result of his off in qualifying yesterday.