My Return to the Park

[This article was written by Noel for]

The last time I raced was in a Coupe de France Formula Renault round at Albi, Southern France in March 2007, and haven’t raced due to no sponsorship like a lot of other drivers.

I managed to do a late deal to race Delta Motorsports Delta T79 at the Phoenix Park Motor Races, with no chance to test I only drove the car in qualifying on Saturday morning for the first time. An engine problem left me down the grid order for both races, with the engine problem fixed I started Saturday’s race from 8th on the grid, I managed to make a great start and I was leading the race by lap 2, and started to pull out a gap until the safety car came out. Now at this stage my brakes were giving me serious problems (which my engineer found out was the brake balance adjuster hitting the throttle pedal when I braked causing the fronts to lock and power on). Then on the last lap there was yellow flags out before the chicane leading to the last corner, so not to risk loosing the win I slowed only for Stuart Boyer to go flying past me, now this confused the finish but I knew I had won the race. To say I was over the moon with the win and fastest lap was an understatement, and I was really pleased for my race engineer Chris Smith who engineered the winning car of the Dublin Grand Prix in 1972.

For Sunday’s race (The Dublin Grand Prix) I started 7th, but straight away I had a clutch problem and made a bad start, which made changing gears a problem and as the problem got worse as the race went on, and I had problems shifting down and stopping. Despite this problem I pushed hard and worked my way into 2nd place, and started to close on the leader. But I carried to much speed out of the last corner spun and dropped to 5th. So now the charge started again and I pushed ever harder and got up to 2nd and got beside the leader coming out of Dublin corner on the penultimate lap, but I couldn’t get it into gear and had to try and challenge again. But unfortunately the problem was major at this stage and on the last lap while in 2nd position I lost all drive and had to stop.

Disappointing as it was not to win the Dublin Grand Prix, I knew I tried my best, and I had a Park Win and two fastest laps, which was possibly not to bad after over 5 years away from racing.

This will be a weekend I will cherish for all my life, and hopefully I can make a full-time return to racing as a result of this weekend.

A Big THANKS to Iain Rowely, Chris Smith & Michael McEneaney who looked after my car all weekend. My Sponsors The Dress Outlet, National Tile, Whiteriver Karting, Millers Oils and of course I can’t forget