Matt Round-Garrido heads into the Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 season finale with a reduced championship lead after failing to win any of the last four races.
The Team Dolan driver won four of the first six races, but has not been on the top of the podium since and has seen his gap at the top of the standings shrink from the equivalent of over two victories to less than one.
A hailstorm struck the fifth round of the season in July, with many cars internals literally being drowned, and it was Noel Robinson and Round-Garrido’s title rival Alan Davidson who came out on top.
Robinson took his second win of the season from pole in the opening race, with Round-Garrido holding on in the spray to take second. Davidson finished third, with Will Herron and former championship leader David McCullough completing a very distant top five.
Conditions didn’t improve for the second race, and with a car problem putting Round-Garrido off the pace it became a straight battle between Davidson and McCullough. Davidson just hung on for victory over McCullough, with Robinson continuing his 2018 podium run in third.
A one month break took place before the penultimate round of the season, which had a slightly more varied grid than usual. This time there were no hailstorms, allowing for closer racing throughout.
McCullough took his first win since the opening race of the season in the first race, then did it again in the second. Round-Garrido took a point for pole, but found himself behind McCullough brothers David and Ivor in the opening race. He was unable to recover his lost positions, as a collision with Ivor McCullough forced him into retirement.
“I was behind Ivor and he missed a gear, I went down the right hand side but the closing speed was too quick so I went flying in the air and the landing bent a wishbone so much it snapped,” Round-Garrido told FF1600website of his non-finish.
A fair distance behind winner David McCullough was Davidson, taking a significant chunk out of Round-Garrido’s points lead. Third for Ivor meant both McCulloughs were on the podium. Herron was fourth, with Scott Finlay taking his best finish of the season in fifth.
Round-Garrido was a far more potent threat in the second race, although still succumbed the lead to David McCullough from pole position. He kept on his rear, and they finished less than a quarter of a second apart. Ivor McCullough narrowly beat Herron to the final podium place, while Davidson finished a costly fifth.
Gislain Genecand made a surprise championship appearance, and finished ninth in the first race.
David McCullough’s double victory means he remains in title contention, although it will be difficult to resolutely outscore Round-Garrido and Davidson at the season closing Martin Donnelly Trophy.
1 Noel Robinson Van Diemen 14 laps
2 Matt Round-Garrido Medina +2.086
3 Alan Davidson Mondiale +20.244
4 Will Herron Van Diemen +23.008
5 David McCullough Van Diemen +32.475
6 Ryan Campbell Reynard +32.864
7 Andrew Blair Reynard +44.465
8 Henry Campbell Reynard +46.118
9 Cameron Fenton Mondiale +52.335
10 Nicky Gibson Crossle +53.231
Pole: Robinson, 1:01.312
Fastest Lap: Davidson, 1:09.271
1 Davidson 14 laps
2 D McCullough +0.764
3 Robinson +3.178
4 Herron +12.409
5 Round-Garrido +23.619
6 R Campbell +28.880
7 Blair +57.627
8 Ian McCulla Reynard +1:09.113
9 Fenton +1:11.737
10 H Campbell +1 lap
FL: D McCullough, 1:08.929
1 D McCullough 13 laps
2 Davidson +5.022
3 Ivor McCullough Van Diemen +7.437
4 Herron +12.776s
5 Scott Finlay Van Diemen +14.652
6 R Campbell +18.112
7 Jamesy Hagan Reynard +29.072
8 David Nicholl Reynard +33.214
9 Gislain Genecand Crossle +33.438
10 H Campbell +38.368
P: Round-Garrido, 1:01.220
FL: Davidson, 1:01.532
1 D McCullough 13 laps
2 Round-Garrido +0.212
3 I McCullough +4.690
4 Herron +4.755
5 Davidson +11.160
6 Finlay +11.882
7 R Campbell +18.635
8 Hagan +23.414
9 Nicholl +28.042
10 H Campbell +33.695
FL: Round-Garrido, 1:01.195
1 Round-Garrido 177 2 Davidson 159 3 D McCullough 146 4 Herron 100 5 Robinson 71 6 Blair 64 7 Mike Todd 58 8 Finlay 36 9 H Campbell 29 10 Jake Byrne 27