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O’Connell will be keen to retain coveted title



Winner: Paul O’Connell who won the Leinster Trophy in 2020

Winner: Paul O’Connell who won the Leinster Trophy in 2020

Winner: Paul O’Connell who won the Leinster Trophy in 2020

It is one of the oldest and most prestigious trophies in Irish motorsport racing with a history dating back to 1934.

And the Leinster Trophy is also inscribed with the names of world champions like Mike Hawthorn, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen as well as home heroes such as Desmond Titterington, Eddie Jordan and John Watson.

Staged over the years at road circuits like Skerries and Dunboyne, the permanent Mondello track near Naas has been its home since 1968.

But this year for the first time it is coming north to the 500 Club’s Kirkistown circuit in Co Down in a two-day meeting on August 27-28, only the second time it has been held on this side of the border. Bishopscourt hosted the race in 1967.

However, the days of up-and-coming Formula One stars taking part, such as Rubens Barrichello, Maurício Gugelmin and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, have long gone and the Trophy has largely become a domestic competition, albeit still the most sought-after in Irish racing.

Notable among the Ulster winners, competing in a variety of different categories down the years, have been John Pollock, Jay Pollock, Patsy McGarrity, Brian Nelson, Tommy Reid and Trevor Templeton.

Last year at Mondello it was won by the reigning BOSS category champion Paul O’Connell and it is the Limerick driver and his rivals in their big open single seater cars, the fastest currently competing in Ireland, who will contest the Kirkistown race.

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Meanwhile, Daniel Harper and his BMW Junior team-mates return to the Nurburgring circuit this weekend for two endurance races in their GT3 BMW M6.

Two weeks ago, Harper and team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen became the youngest winners in the German endurance series around the full 14-mile Nurburgring/Nordschleife road course, the 19-year-old Hillsborough driver withstanding sustained pressure over the final 90 minutes.

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