Kirkistown season opener supports Air Ambulance
The Northern Ireland motor racing season starts on Saturday and to kick it off the Kirkistown circuit owners, the 500 Club, are putting the spotlight on the Air Ambulance service.
They have dropped the usual admission fee for spectators, replacing it with a £10 per person donation — for over 15-year-olds — with all gate receipts going to Air Ambulance NI.
And, in a switch of emphasis, the saloon cars will take centre stage with the visit of the Irish Touring Car Championship, which will combine with the Kirkistown saloons to create a near capacity grid for the two races.
Andrew Armstrong from Downpatrick (BMW), Ulick Burke from Athlone (Honda) and Robert Savage from Kells (Honda) are expected to be the front runners, as is Jay O’Reilly from Navan with his Honda Civic.
Martin McDonnell, from Belfast, returns after an absence of a few years, this time with a Subaru Impreza, and Martin Duffy, from Shankill, who shadowed Armstrong last season is back with a re-built BMW complete with a more powerful engine.
The rest of the programme includes the Dawson-WAM Northern Ireland Formula Fords in the richest club championship in these islands, with £10,000 in prize money up for grabs.
England’s Matt Round-Garrido was the championship winner last season but he has moved on to fresh challenges, although his two closest rivals, Randalstown’s Alan Davidson and Ballymena’s David McCullough, are back along with Stephen O’Connor, Andrew Blair, Henry Campbell, David Nicholl, Jim Campbell and Allan McBurney.
Last year’s roadsports champion Mike Johnston has sold his car and is absent, but his biggest challenger, Jim Larkham, is entered with his Radical PRO6, as is Paul Conn, who made great strides in his Crosslé 47S in 2018.
Back too is Formula Vees, which often sees six or eight cars battling for the lead throughout the race. Anthony Cross should be at the sharp end in his Sheane FV94 along with Paul Heavy in his Leastone JH004.