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It was a dream debut weekend for Warrenpoint’s JB Farrell as he claimed pole position and the race win in his class at the Irish Formula Vee season opener at Kirkistown.

It was expected that the conversion of a dominant qualifying session, where he was over 0.75 secs clear of his nearest challenger, to victory in the race would be a routine equation. However it proved anything but when a first lap spin left him in last position and more than ten seconds off the front runners.

“The first lap wasn’t ideal to say the least,” explained Farrell. “I had a decent start off the line, but braked for turn two just a couple of metres too late, as did the car alongside me, and it was enough to send us both onto the dirt and put me into a spin.”

JB Farrell takes the Podium in First Place. Photograph: Clare Rice
JB Farrell takes the Podium in First Place. Photograph: Clare Rice

At that moment it looked as if all was lost, with the Flowdaq Cicoda Racing driver only making fractional inroads into the large gap initially. However, once he settled into his groove, that gap closed rapidly as he carved his way back up the order and into third place with seven laps remaining. For many, a recovery drive from last to the podium would have represented a very solid start to the year, but with the bit between his teeth JB wasn’t content to settle.

Third place became second after a spin from Donegal’s Jordan Kelly – son of three-time champion Brian Kelly – which nearly collected Farrell, with the Warrenpoint racer narrowly avoiding a 105mph collision by taking to the grass yet managing to retain control.

“It was a hairy moment with Jordan,” JB admitted after the race. “His car ran just a fraction wide and slid back across the track into my path. There was nowhere left to go and although you don’t want to be launching over the grass at that speed, it was the only option and I just had to hope for the best.”

The excursion cost time to leader Philip Sheane, the latest challenger from the famous Sheane racing dynasty in Wicklow, but JB soon hunted him down and dramatically outbraked him into the turn eight hairpin to snatch the lead with just two laps remaining. Sheane tried gamely to fight back, but JB was able to withstand the pressure and take an exhilarating maiden victory. It was a stirring comeback that pleased Ron Healy, Team Principal of Flowdaq Cicoda Racing, who says he cannot wait for the next round at Mondello Park.

“After the first-lap incident, JB could have responded in one of two ways – drive angry or give up. When a driver is driving angry, that can also go two ways – pure focus or pure danger. In this race, we learnt a lot about JB as a driver.” He added, “Driving with determination and focus is the perfect combination. Couple that with a little bit of luck and a fair chunk of instinct, as was the case when JB went off-roading to avoid Kelly, and the weekend became a perfect induction into Formula Vee for him, as well as a perfect debut for him and for Cicoda Racing.”

JB Farrell with winning Flowdaq Cicoda Racing car - Credit: Clare Rice
JB Farrell with winning Flowdaq Cicoda Racing car. Photograph: Clare Rice

Farrell enjoyed another adrenaline-charged battle later in the day as he drove to an excellent sixth place in the overall National Championship race, holding off experienced racer David O’Loughlin in a tense wheel-to-wheel race where the pair were never more than a second apart. Having qualified just 1.5 secs off pole sitter and 2018 champion Anthony Cross, the conversion into a strong points-scoring finish capped off a near-perfect debut weekend for JB.

“This weekend was all about learning, becoming more comfortable in the car and trying to produce a solid finish across both races,” said Farrell. “To win in my own class and then finish in the top six overall is a great start and far more than we could have dreamt of, given it was the first ever race weekend for both me and the team. But we can’t get carried away because it is a long season and there is plenty more for us to work on and develop.”

Plenty to work on perhaps, but plenty of positives also as the championship swiftly rolls on to Round 2 at Mondello Park on Sunday 14 April.

Sponsorship packages for driver or car are available for the 2019 season. For more details, contact JB Farrell on 07840 240239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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