McGreal’s got that winning feeling

Winner's circle: James McGreal and clerk of the course Brendan Walsh after McGreal's victory last week.

Winner's circle: James McGreal and clerk of the course Brendan Walsh after McGreal's victory last week.

They say in sport getting the first win is the hardest, that once that elusive initial victory has been achieved, subsequent success is easier to come by.

James McGreal might not agree about the easy bit, but what is without argument is the fact that having waited nearly 15 years to achieve success on his local autocross, the Foxford man has now made it two wins from two in quick succession.

Just three weeks ago, McGreal dominated Mayo and District Motorsport Club’s loose surface Autocross at Harrington’s Quarry near Swinford, setting fastest time on each of the three runs. On Sunday however, on the third Autocross event of the season he had to work much harder, clinching victory in his Subaru Impreza only on the final run of the day.

Making him work hard for that win was another Mayo competitor, Gerry Ronan from Bekan. The Mitsubishi driver was flying on the early runs, holding a lead of over six seconds ahead of the field going into the final timed test, a lifetime in motorsport terms. McGreal meantime was struggling, failing to set a time on the first run when his car lapsed onto three cylinders, and not happy with his performance on the second test which saw him down in fifth position, over eight seconds off the pace.

On the final run Gerry Ronan took another 1.5 seconds off his previous best time but it was not to be enough for the Bekan driver. Feeling that his chance of victory had gone, McGreal decided to adopt a smooth and tidy approach, eschewing his normal flamboyant style. It proved remarkably effective, the red Impreza scorching to victory by over two seconds.

Fermanagh visitor Gerard Farmer took third in another Mitsubishi, another competitor to put in a strong last run, finishing just 0.13 of a second behind Gerry Ronan, while in fourth was Adrian Donnelly, the Escort driver taking the award for class four into the bargain. In fifth was Wexford’s Mark Kennedy in a Kartcross Buggy, the first time for one of these purpose-built specials to compete on a Mayo Autocross.

Conor Kelly from Tyrone took sixth and the class three award, while a trio of local competitors was next up. Sean McHugh from Bekan slipped down the order after holding second in his Impreza following the first run, while Williamstown’s Walter Burke took over that position after run two, but the Escort driver was unable to improve sufficiently on the final test. In ninth position, Castlebar’s Brendan Corcoran put in one of the drives of the day, not only bringing his Honda Civic into the top 10, but winning the hard fought class 2 in the process. The top 10 was rounded out by the Mitsubishi of James Lannon from Boyle, while Noel Lappin scooped the class one award despite only recording one time for the day, the Cavan man beating Foxford’s Alan Moran for the prize.

Five local competitors in the top 10 despite competition from all corners of the country, and many more local drivers competing throughout the field, the popularity of Mayo and District Motorsport Club’s Loose Surface Autocross continues to grow. With two further rounds to run in 2009, and James McGreal the man to beat following his brace of victories, hopes will be high that for the first time since its inception, a Mayo driver can claim the prestigious Frank Harrington Award for overall Autocross series champion.

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