Matt Round-Garrido has explained his absence from the Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown, for which the Team Dolan driver took pole.
Having won the Northern Ireland FF1600 title earlier in the weekend, Team Dolan boss Bernard Dolan had requested Round-Garrido start the final race of the season from the pitlane to ensure the car was undamaged for the Trophy.
“Because the Trophy is like the Irish [FFord] Festival equivalent, I well wanted to win it so I really wanted to push the set-up a bit more so I tried it in race two,” Round-Garrido explained to FF1600website.
“Bernard and my dad were like: ‘you’re going to start from the pitlane because you’ve won the championship’. But I love winning too much, and a bit stupidly just went for the win in what was the craziest race of my life.”
A wheel-to-wheel battle with David McCullough included heavy contact, and cracked the bellhousing on Round-Garrido’s Medina Sport JL17.
“I could hear something but still carried on for the win, then in a separate incident a few laps later David hit me again and it basically just took my driveshaft clean out. To be fair he apologised straight after.
“Then the [Team Dolan] lads did what would’ve taken an hour in about 15 minutes to get me out for Trophy qualifying and with that extra pace from the set-up we poled it.”
Round-Garrido beat Noel Robinson to pole by just 0.023 seconds. NI FF1600 poleman Kevin O’Hara was third fastest, with Round-Garrido’s title rivals McCullough and Alan Davidson fourth and fifth.
“I still felt like something was wrong because I could hear this really subtle sound under the engine and by the end of qualifying my gear changes were really hard to do.
“Luckily they found the crack in the bellhousing, and to not damage my engine we put another one on. Again normally like a two hour job, they did it in 45 minutes.
“Just as it was done the first lap of the Trophy was finishing. It’s a shame because we asked the Clerk of the Course to wait 10 minutes for the car to be ready and really we only needed five but he didn’t wait at all and I think it’s a shame as I was the poleman. But it’s one of them I guess.”
Photo by Taylor Walsh, Team Dolan PR