Niall Murray believes he was the quickest car-driver combination at Avon Tyres National FF1600 Championship’s opening race at Knockhill, and expects wins to follow in today’s pair of races.
Team Dolan driver Murray suffered a loss of power late in qualifying on Saturday morning, ruining his last attempts to secure pole position and consigning him to a fifth place start for race one.
However, he worked his way methodically up the field, picking off Cliff Dempsey Racing pair Jamie Thorburn and Nico Gruber early on, before a titanic scrap for second place with Neil Maclennan went Murray’s way.
“It was really good, started fifth as we had a bad qualifying but I was fairly confident going into the race, and I think I proved I was probably the quickest car out there,” said Murray.
“We were one hundredth off fastest lap and theoretically I was the fastest as well, so it felt really good.
“[I] was kind of backed up behind Matt [Round-Garrido] and Neil [Maclennan] for most of the race, so again [was] delighted to finish second from starting fifth and starting second tomorrow, where we hope to get two more podiums.
“I was quickest on Friday and obviously had some problems in qualifying, and the pace was back in the race, so we hope to pick up a win or two.”
Murray shares the front row for race two with Dolan team-mate Matt-Round Garrido, who scored victory in Saturday’s first race.
Round-Garrido hails Murray impact
Yesterday’s race one win was Round-Garrido’s first in the Avon Tyres National FF1600 Championship, having already joined team-mate Murray on the podium during the season opener at Silverstone.
Round-Garrido has received driver coaching from both team owner Bernard Dolan, the 1989 Esso Formula Ford champion, along with Murray. He hailed Murray’s input as a driver coach this season, a role he has taken on for both Round-Garrido and fellow young Dolan team-mate Jack Wolfenden.
“I’m team-mates with him [Murray] in National, and he’s been to my Northern Irish rounds as well,” explained Round-Garrido at last Sunday’s SMRC event, which he used as a warm-up for this weekend’s National round.
“In case he sees this, I don’t want to [big] him up too much! But he really is great, especially as a team-mate.
“I was really shocked by it at Silverstone. He’s the first one on the data, straight away sat down analysing it. You walk in and you’re like ‘right, let’s have a look at this then’.
“Not only is he looking and asking for your tips, which is what most team-mates would do, he’s also helping you, and I’m sure Jack would say the same.
Despite Murray’s position as a consistent front-runner suggesting he has several tricks up his sleeve, Round-Garrido indicated Murray has not been keeping secrets to himself, allowing everyone in the Dolan camp to go faster as a result.
“To work with, he’s absolutely great. It’s not like a self-act, he’s the one pushing everyone forwards, and that’s why he’s so complete as a driver.
He’s always going for it, no matter who or what or how, he’s pushing the boundaries trying to get quicker as a driver. That’s why he’s such a great success.”