Rain puts paid to Matt Griffin’s challenge at Imola

Cork driver Matt Griffin and his AF Corse team-mates Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott had to be content with sixth spot in the LMGTE category of yesterday’s 4 Hours of Imola, the second round of the European Le Mans Series that ended under the safety car due to incessant rain.

Qualifying fifth of the LMGTE contenders Cameron drove the opening stint and held position even though his Ferrari 458 Italia was hit by a fellow competitor, the incident costing him about 10 seconds.

Fellow Briton Aaron Scott took to the wheel for the second stint and at one time brought the car up to third before eventually handing over to Griffin in fourth spot.

The AF Corse team decided to go out on slicks but Griffin had to return to the pits almost immediately as the Imola circuit was hit by a deluge of rain. Indeed, by the time the Ballincollig-based driver got back on track the race was under a “FCY” — full course yellow with no overtaking allowed.

For well over an hour the situation prevailed and the race finished behind the safety car when heavy rain made racing impossible. Griffin never managed to turn the wheel in competitive mode.

The Murphy Prototype team of Newtownabbey racer Patrick McClughan, Wicklow’s Seán Doyle and Norfolk’s Garry Findlay finished 10th overall in their Oreca 03R Nissan.

Meanwhile, the Vauxhall International North-West 200 motorcycle races were abandoned on Saturday following the tragic death of Malachi Mitchell-Thomas as a result of a crash on the third lap of the Supertwin race.

The 20-year-old from Lancashire crashed his Kawasaki on the approach to Black Hill on the Portstewart/Portrush/Coleraine circuit.

The race was immediately red flagged. Malachi was treated by medicals but succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

On Thursday the Supertwin race was red flagged on the third lap of four after Ryan Farquhar and Dan Cooper crashed on the approach to Black Hill. Farquhar (40) was hospitalised and continues his recovery.

Alastair Seeley (Kawasaki) became the most successful North West 200 racer of all-time when he won the Supersport race on Thursday and on Saturday took another win — his 17th win at the venue.

Elsewhere, a new course record was set by Michael Dunlop (BMW) on his way to victory in the Superbike race at an average speed of 123.207mph.

During the race Bruce Anstey (Honda) was clocked at 209.8 mph.

In the Birr and District Motor Club’s double header Autotest in Borris in Ossory, there were wins for Carlow’s John McAssey (Toyota Starlet) and Cork’s Liam Cashman, also in a Toyota Starlet.


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