VRA Christmas Fundraiser a resounding success

by NIall Maher

A stellar turnout of 35 drivers provided some brilliant entertainment on the evening of the 29th of December. Drivers from all over the world came together on iRacing to race around the tricky Brands Hatch Indy circuit in the Skip Barber Formula 2000 car and to raise some money for the Dublin Simon Community.

The fundraising campaign began in early December. Any driver who signed up to race was asked to donate €10 and feelers were put out asking for five local businesses to donate €100 to support the cause. In the end, six local businesses came onboard; Stone Motorsport, Event Group, Patch Tyre Equipment, Selco Hygiene Supplies Ireland, Drift Games, and Dan Ryan Truck Rental and we, of course, send our heartfelt thanks to them for their support.

The event got underway at 4pm last Sunday and was divided up into 3 heat races, where the top 3 went through, a consolation final, where the and the all important final to see who would be crowned the winner.

Heat race 1 went to Peter Dempsey who commanded the race from pole position. A great fight for 2nd place between Victor Gibson and Niki Meredith came down to the wire with the pair separated by just 0.040 of a second as they crossed the line. Gibson just about came out on top.Heat Race 2 saw an incredible 4 way fight for the win between Niall Murray, GTE Pro Champion Niall Quinn, Daniel Clarke, and Brian McManus. For the full 8 laps, the group swapped positions every single corner until Quinn managed to build a small gap over Murray as he fought with McManus. In the end, it was Quinn who managed to fend off the charge of Murray with McManus making a move up the inside of the last corner on Clarke to take third. 0.020 separated McManus from Clarke across the line. Chaos reigned in heat race three as Peter McCann and Tony Stack made contact heading into Druids which, unfortunately, also took Jordan Dempsey out of the running. Things settled down after that and Keith Dempsey cruised home to take the heat race win ahead of Jordan Kelly and Evan Walsh Then we came to the most chaotic race of the evening.

The consolation final. 20 cars started the race and by the end of lap 1, 10 were left running. A pile-up in Druids and Surtees left most drivers with nowhere to go and with iRacing’s new damage model, the smallest of contact can render your car undriveable. Thankfully, even with this chaos, we were treated to another titanic scrap for the win between Joseph Ottofaro, Adam Dowling, Olivier Vanherk, Peter McCann and Lukas Johnson. These five duked it out until the flag, with Ottofaro just pipping Dowling by just 0.050. Dowling, however, suffered an absolutely horrendous crash after the checkered flag which saw his Skip Barber flipping wildly through the air into the wall at Paddock Hill bend. Thankfully he was ok but just felt a bit sick as he experienced it while wearing a virtual reality headset!

Then it came to the final. It was a star-studded grid with Peter Dempsey lining up on pole. Niall Quinn lined up in P2 with Keith Dempsey next to him and Niall Murray in P4. All the top four got away cleanly as another big smash at Surtees took out half the field once again. At the end of lap one it was still Peter Dempsey leading from Niall Quinn and Keith Dempsey. On lap four, Keith Dempsey managed to slip up the inside of Quinn into Druids to take second place. Murray tried to follow him through but was just squeezed out by Quinn on the exit. Murray would try to pass Quinn on the next lap at the same place but technical issues meant that he disconnected from the session. A really unfortunate occurrence. But now, the battle was on. Dempsey vs Dempsey vs Quinn. Keith bided his time behind Peter and, on lap 7, took the lead away from Peter. Peter then sat behind Keith for 10 laps and then, with 4 laps to go, launched one up the inside of Paddock Hill to take the lead, but only for a moment as Keith went back up the inside of Druids to re-take the lead. The trio remained nose-to-tail for the final 3 laps but it was ultimately Keith Dempsey who crossed the line to win ahead of Peter Dempsey and Niall Quinn.

Overall, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was fantastic to see so many Irish drivers, both here and abroad, taking part in raising some money for those less fortunate. After all the donations were tallied up, a total of €1145 was raised for the Dublin Simon Community. VRA would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all the drivers, businesses, and everyone else who donated and also wish everyone a happy new year

Author: Jack Cunnane

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