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Nostalgic Donnelly Trophy day will keep it in the family


Stefan Donnelly

This weekend Martin Donnelly will make a nostalgic trip back to Kirkistown, the race circuit where his career began back in the early Eighties.

He won't be racing, of course, as he is still recovering from the nasty broken leg he sustained in a charity scooter ride in Ireland, but the former Lotus grand prix driver, whose F1 career was ended by a horrific crash at Jerez in 1991, will be here to attend what is very much a Donnelly Day.

It is the end-of-season Martin Donnelly Trophy day at the Co Down track, the event named after his late father who was a 500 Club stalwart, and on this occasion Martin's son Stefan will take part in the Formula Ford race dedicated to his grandfather.

Indeed, 25-year-old Stefan will drive the car, a Crossle 32F, a young Martin used to race at Kirkistown and Mondello back in the day and it will even be decked out in the same Donnelly For Spuds livery.

Although Stefan is no stranger to the track, having raced alongside his dad in the UK Lotus Elise series, he will find himself at a big disadvantage on Saturday when he lines up in the elderly Crossle on a grid which contains Northern Ireland champions and past Donnelly Trophy winners like Ivor McCullough, Noel Robinson and Alan Davidson.

In the field, too, will be David McCullough, the 2019 Dawson-WAM champion-elect who leads the NI series by 36 points from Davidson and needs only a top four finish in either of the final two championships rounds - the Donnelly Trophy is not included - to secure the title for the first time.

David's brother Ivor has been the man in form in recent races and, despite family ties, he will not make it easy for his younger sibling as he chases his first NI championship.

Saturday's packed programme also includes the Irish Formula Vee series and although it has already been won by Anthony Cross, the southern brigade will be battling for the prestigious Emerson Fittipaldi Trophy which was originally presented by the former F1 World champion for the winner of the Formula Vee race at Phoenix Park.

With the park races no longer taking place it has been shifted north to Kirkistown to run alongside the Donnelly Trophy.

Dan Polley, who won last year, is back to defend the trophy in a line-up which also includes UK Formula Vee champion Ben Miloudi who will be making his Irish debut.

The local roadsports championship will be decided at the final meeting with Ivor Greenwood leading Jim Larkham by 10 points, however there are still 44 available points over the last two rounds so a tight finish is looking likely.

Ford Fiestas, MX5 Mazdas, Saloons and Legends are also on Saturday's programme which starts with qualifying at 9am. First race is scheduled for 11am.

Belfast Telegraph