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Round-Garrido sets sights on more Kirkistown joy

 

By Sammy Hamill

Fresh from his first UK National Formula Ford victory in Scotland last weekend, Matt Round-Garrido is back at Kirkistown tomorrow intent on building on his impressive start in the Northern Ireland series.

The Anglo-Spanish teenager, from Birmingham, has won three out of the four rounds so far in the Dawson-WAM NI FF1600 Championship and leads Ballymena driver David McCullough by five points. He has qualified on pole position twice and set two fastest laps along the way.

A former karting champion, Round-Garrido is only in his third season in cars but has already made a significant impact in his Team Dolan-run Medina Sport, not least with his first UK National win at Knockhill last Sunday where he held off his 'coach', the reigning NI champion Niall Murray, in a blanket finish.

Round-Garrido is using the NI Championship in his quest to qualify for the lucrative Mazda Road to Indy shoot-out later in the year and possibly follow in the footsteps of another Kirkistown race winner, Keith Donegan, who took the $200,000 prize in 2017 and is currently racing in the US FF2000 Championship.

He was out on the Kirkistown track yesterday preparing for tomorrow's two races in which he will face McCullough as well as Alan Davidson, winner of the only round the 18-year-old hasn't won so far.

Tomorrow's meeting will also see two other dominant drivers in action in the Roadsport Championship. Jim Larkin won the first two rounds in his Radical but has been pegged back over the last two races by Mike Johnson in his Opel Tigra to leave them just two points apart.

James Turkington, younger brother of two-time British Touring Car champion Colin, is the runaway leader of the Kirkistown Saloon Championship having won all four rounds so far in his Seat Leon. Mark Stewart is the leader of the Fiesta Zetec series.

The 500 Club meeting starts with qualifying at 10am.

Meanwhile, the rally action this weekend centres on Cavan and round three of the Triton Showers Irish National Championship on Sunday.

Declan Boyle, a former two-time champion, heads an all WRC-car top 10, with Roy White at two ahead of Garry Jennings, who is using the event in his build-up to next month's Donegal International.

Josh Moffett, current leader of the premier Tarmac Championship, is at No.4 followed by Donagh Kelly, Peadar Hurson, Joe McGonigle, Niall Maguire and Darren Gass, who is returning after more than a two-year absence.

Gass, the 2012 Tarmac champion, is also using the Cavan Rally to acclimatise to the Derek McGarrity S14 Subaru he will drive in Donegal.

Details of the June 15-17 event will be unveiled at the official launch in Letterkenny this evening where local man Manus Kelly, winner for the past two years, will again top the capacity entry list in the same Melvyn Evans WRC Subaru he has steered to success in 2016 and '17.

He and his fellow WRC drivers are not eligible for overall Tarmac Championship points which is restricted to the R5s and sees Josh Moffett, brother Sam, the current champion, and Robert Barrable covered by just two points.

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