By John Kenny
Meath’s Barry Rabbitt, in the P1/Golden Pages-sponsored Formula Sheane, added his name to an illustrious list of past winners when he took his car to victory in the Leinster Trophy motor races at Mondello Park.
The likes of Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, John Watson and Eddie Jordan have all won the prestigious trophy in previous years when the county Kildare circuit hosted some of the world’s top junior formula.
However, spectators at Mondello haven’t seen an International circuit racing class in the past few seasons, forcing the Leinster Motor Club to give the honour of racing for the trophy to domestic clubman series in the recent past.
Formula Sheane, a series constructed by David Sheane in County Wicklow, has been selected to race for the trophy for the past two years.
Rabbit qualified his car in fourth position in wet conditions but was up to second place overall by the end of lap one on the drying track after an audacious overtaking manoeuvre.
He moved past pole sitter Tristan Quinn through turn three on lap one of the 15-minute race on the International circuit at Mondello.
Rabbit, a former Irish Touring Car racer, competing in his first season in the single-seater Formula Sheane, then overtook Kevin Sheane by the end of the second lap to jump into the lead.
Rabbit held onto that lead from Kevin Sheane and veteran Brian Hearty, winner of nine Irish championships over the years, until Sheane out-broke himself going into turn one while lying in second place on the penultimate lap ending his interest in overall victory.
The last two laps were a battle royal between Rabbitt and Hearty with the Dundalk man harrying a hassling Rabbit right to the chequered flag but he held on to take a famous win.
Hearty had to be content with second place with Rabbitt winning by just two hundredths of a second with Enda O’Connor finishing on the third step of the podium, over two second behind the front two.
Other winners at the two-day festival included Erik Holstein, the former Irish International show jumper, who won both races in Touring cars in his BMW, while Johnny McMullen won yesterday’s Formula Ford race in his Mondiale.