David McCullough left the first weekend of the Northern Irish FF1600 season with the championship lead, although it was Team Dolan’s Matt Round-Garrido who set the pace around Kirkistown.
Round-Garrido, coached by reigning Northern Irish champion Niall Murray, set the fastest time in qualifying in his Medina Sport JL17, but a transponder issue meant he was only down in fifth on second fastest times, which set the race two grid.
His better result actually came in the second race, as a result of a mistake in the first race that took the 17-year-old from the lead down to the back of the field.
He fought back up to fourth and, when Will Herron was excluded for a technical infringement on his Van Diemen RF00, he was promoted to third.
McCullough, in his second year back in FF1600, won the race in his Van Diemen RF01 ahead of Heron, who was struggling with low oil pressure towards the end. His exclusion meant Ray GR14 driver Jake Byrne inherited second.
Reynard 89FF and 87FF drivers Mike Todd and Andrew Blair completed the top five.
Alan Davidson was initially part of the lead battle in his Mondiale M89S but faded to sixth place.
In the second race, it only took a few laps for Round-Garrido to make it into the lead from fourth, a place higher than he would’ve been thanks to Herron’s exclusion, and he pulled out a lead of over seven seconds before the chequered flag fell after 21 laps.
“I got up to speed, had a few tips [from Murray]. The car was mint, the engine was great all weekend. It was great,” explained the winner.
McCullough finished second, guaranteeing him the championship lead by one point, and had an even larger margin of 12 seconds over third-placed man Byrne.
Todd and Blair once again completed the top five, with sixth place for Henry Campbell giving him that position in the standings.
Ashley McCulla finished seventh and was the last of the drivers to finish on the lead lap, with eighth to 10th all being lapped by the winner.
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 David McCullough Van Diemen RF01 16m47.734s
2 Jake Byrne Ray GR14 +3.683s
3 Matt Round-Garrido Medina Sport n +10.365s
4 Mike Todd Reynard 89FF +14.806s
5 Andrew Blair Reynard 87FF +19.627s
6 Alan Davidson Mondiale M89S +19.697s
7 Henry Campbell Reynard 89FF +33.868s
8 Nicky Gibson Crossle 40F +34.210s
9 Ashley McCulla Mondiale M89S +34.544s
10 Ian McCulla Reynard 83FF +37.044s
Pole: Round-Garrido, 1m01.544s
Fastest Lap: Round-Garrido, 1m01.863s
Race 2 (21 laps)
1 Round-Garrido 21m54.312s
2 McCullough +7.643s
3 Byrne +19.909s
4 Todd +26.885
5 Blair +32.666s
6 Campbell +54.156s
7 A McCulla +58.187s
8 Ryan Templeton Crossle 32F +1 lap
9 Davidson +1 lap
10 Gibson +1 lap
P: McCullough, 1m01.810s
FL: Round-Garrido, 1m01.655s
1 McCullough 35 2 Round-Garrido 34 3 Byrne 27 4 Todd 20 5 Blair 16 6 Campbell 10 7 Davidson 8 8 A McCulla 6 9 Gibson 4 10 Templeton 3