David McCullough triumphed in a thrilling three-way battle for the Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown.
McCullough, brother Ivor and Noel Robinson were inseparable through the 21-lap race, and finished it split by just 0.515 seconds.
Team Dolan’s Matt Round-Garrido had taken pole, but repair work from the preceding Northern Ireland FF1600 race meant he missed the start.
Robinson inherited pole, ahead of Kevin O’Hara, who topped NI FF1600 qualifying but skipped the races, and David McCullough.
A lap one scuffle dropped O’Hara, the previous holder of the trophy, straight down to last of the 20 starters, with NI FF1600 runner-up Alan Davidson moving into third behind eventual winner McCullough. It wasn’t long before the second McCullough was through, and the top three pack was formed.
Most often it was Ivor McCullough who was quickest, assisted by the slipstream, but he could not find a way through and took the third place.
David McCullough and Robinson were practically neck and neck on lap times, and it took a third of the race before McCullough could find a way into the lead. He held onto it for the rest of the race, just, and secured his first major FF1600 win.
Will Herron moved from seventh to fifth at the start, and gained one more spot to take a distant fourth.
Scott Finlay was fifth, meaning Van Diemen chassis locked out the top five positions, way ahead of the battle for sixth place between Davidson and Colm Blackburn. After losing third, Davidson looked odds on to take fourth until losing a significant amount of time in the closing laps.
Andrew Blair beat Nicky Gibson to eighth on the line by 0.024s, with Neville Anderson completing the top 10.
O’Hara must have been frustrated his lap one downfall, but he fought back and was eighth by one-quarter distance. Unfortunately his early drama had taken its toll though, and he retired out of sixth place with just a few laps to go.
|1||David McCullough||Van Diemen||21 laps|
|2||Noel Robinson||Van Diemen||+0.152|
|3||Ivor McCullough||Van Diemen||+0.515|
|4||Will Herron||Van Diemen||+6.606|
|5||Scott Finlay||Van Diemen||+19.516|
|7||Colm Blackburn||Van Diemen||+28.792|
|Pole: Matt Round-Garrido, 1:01.064 Fastest lap: I McCullough, 1:01.339|