The races were held on July 21/22 this year and there were two heats (6 laps)on Saturday and then a qualifier (8) and final on Sunday(10).Twenty nine vees entered this year with defending park and Irish National Champion 'Ray Moore' making his first appearance on Irish soil with the number 1 plate on his Leastone this year.
Moore took pole in the early morning qualifying session, but there was no luck for our driver 'Keno Elliott'. He had a combination of engine and carburetion problems, which only allowed him to do the minimum laps to qualify into the race and two green flag laps over the whole weekend despite him working on the car night and day. John Mc Loughlin was another to have problems in qualifying and he was alongside Ken near the rear of the grid for the first heat.
Gerard Callaghan had pole for the first heat and led on the first lap from Joe Close, and Pat Cassidy. There was an incident in the first corner when Michael Hoban launched his car into the air but continued on.. Coming through the field after avoiding the carnage was the Leastone of Mc Loughlin and he was up to third by the end of lap1. The order- Callaghan, Close, Mc Loughlin, Cassidy, and Conway. Mc Loughlin set the fastest lap on lap 2 as he took the lead from Callaghan and Bob Parkes moved up into 5th when Conway went off. Joe Close moved up to 2nd on lap 3 and the order was- Mc Loughlin, Close, Callaghan, Cassidy, and Parkes. Cassidy retired with a lap to go and Mc Loughlin won his first race by 11 seconds.
The second heat on Saturday was also 6 laps and brought out the big guns. Ray Moore was on pole from Brian Hearty with Enda O Connor and Paul Heavey on the second row.
The start was tight with Moore getting the jump from Hearty and led around Dublin corner. Finbarr Murray had the best start and arrived at the corner 3rd but went off and O Connor was up to third. Lap 2 saw Moore still lead but this time from Heavey who had passed Hearty and O Connor. Brian Melia was in 5th ahead of Stephen Kershaw and Murray but both of these were off at Dublin to give him a gap behind.
Paul Heavey took the lead on lap 4 from Moore. O Connor moved past Hearty for third also on lap 4 and on the following lap headed Moore down the straight but ran wide at Dublin. Moore and Hearty nipped through and later on the lap Moore took the lead back from Heavey. The leading 4 were running tight together on the last lap and as they all tried to win the race down the straight O Connor went off and hit a lamp post. Moore took the flag from Heavey, Hearty, Melia. and Kershaw. Kershaw had been as low as 10th after going off on lap 2 and did well to get back through the field.
The people who were up the park early on Sunday were treated to a classic race. It was 8 laps and had Robbie Parkes on pole from David Cassidy with Stephen Kershaw and Declan Quigley on the 2nd row. The 3rd row was occupied by Finbarr Murray,and Mark Dunleavy. The pole sitter had the best start and out of Dublin it was Parkes from Kershaw, Murray and John Mc Loughlin with Cassidy and Quigley the losers in 5th and 6th. Murray moved into 2nd on 2 but Mc Loughlin went off at Dublin to lose places and ground on the leaders. The first change in the lead was on 3 when Murray crossed the line ahead of Parkes with Kershaw, Cassidy, Quigley, Dunleavy, and Mc Loughlin behind, but that didn't last as the next lap when they appeared from Mountjoy Cassidy led from Quigley. They were at half distance and as Quigley put Cassidy under pressure they both went wide and off at Dublin and Murray moved back into the lead with Kershaw moving up to second. Mc Loughlin was 5th.
Murray and Kershaw held their places for over a lap and with 5 laps complete the order was Murray, Kershaw, Mc Loughlin, Cassidy, Quigley with Kevin Gillespie in 6th. The following time around Kershaw became the 4th man to lead getting past Murray but Mc Loughlin was reeling in the pair after his early spin. The lead changed again at the Furry Glen as Kershaw went off to let Murray and Mc Loughlin through and it seemed that no one wanted to win the race. The drivers started the last lap in the order Murray, Mc Loughlin, Quigley, Kershaw, Gillespie and Cassidy and the only change in that order was for the lead as Mc Loughlin got past Murray to take his second win of the meeting in a tight finish. All finishers won their way into the afternoon final.
The final was 10 laps and with Mc Loughlin fifth on the grid after his earlier win the four drivers who had a lie on were Ray Moore, Paul Heavey, Brian Hearty , and Brian Melia. The first race was red flagged which was lucky for Heavey as he had problems in the holding area and started some way behind the field. He made the most of his good fortune however on the restart and led the field around Dublin corner on the first lap from Moore, Mc Loughlin, Melia and Hearty. Moore took the lead from Heavey on lap 2 and Hearty got past Mc Loughlin to lie 3rd and they raced in this order until lap 4 when as they were braking for Dublin corner Heavey hit and went over Moore and was out of the race. Melia made the most of the situation and passed Mc Loughlin for 4th. This left the order Moore, Hearty, Melia Mc Loughlin, Stephen Kershaw, and Mark Dunleavy. Kershaw was driving well and had been as low as 9th.Moore and Hearty were pulling way from the rest at the front as the field stretched out in the closing laps.
Brian Hearty took the lead on the last lap in the run from Dublin corner to the chicane and took the flag for the race win but there was controversy after when Moore claimed he was overtaken in the no passing zone that preceded the chicane. Brian Melia was 3rd from Mc Loughlin, Kershaw, and Dunleavy. The race stewards who met following an objection to the result declared that the result should stand. We understand that an appeal has been lodged with Motorsport Ireland.
All that was left for the drivers and crew to do was pack up and leave the magic of the Phoenix Park for another year.
Brian Hearty was disqualified by a Motorsport Ireland Court Of Inquiry and the Race was awarded to Ray Moore for the overtaking manouvre in the 'No Passing Zone' before the chicane. This was Moore's third win in a row in the Phoenix Park and He gets to keep the 'Emmerson Fitipaldi' Trophy as a consequence. Kevin Gillespie was promoted to Sixth and the top five moved up a place. This left Leastone Racing owner Paul Heavey with a win in every Formula Vee Race at this years Phoenix park races (2001).We understand an appeal to this decision has been lodged with Motorsport Ireland. Well keep you posted!
Mr Moore was philosophical when asked about the win by Cregornews saying "It wasn't me that floated on a cloud". We didn't have a clue what he was on about. Any ideas? email us.
The final appeal by Brian Hearty has been rejected by Motorsport Ireland and the win for Ray Moore stands leaving him a 3 times Phoenix Park Winner. He will defend his title later this summer in what already looks like it could be the race of the year.