Alex Denning sealed the 2020 Coffee 2 Go Fiesta ST Championship at Mondello Park last week, staying out of trouble and using his blinding pace to streak away to a dominant win in race one.
For the last race of the year, the champion-elect from Dublin was relegated to second on the grid in qualifying for the first time in this year’s championship by the hugely experienced Michael Cullen.
Kevin Doran, one of only two other drivers to taste victory apart from Denning this year, was third, just seven thousandths of a second away., He was joined on the second row of the race one grid by Graham McDonnell, whose team had done trojan work in the preceding weeks to rebuild the Coffee 2 Go car, which had been badly damaged at the previous race meeting.
Using all his experience, multiple champion Cullen led away. Unsurprisingly Doran was on the attack immediately, and it was three abreast through turn two for the first time, with Denning needing all of his car control to hold on to a massive sideways moment.
Somehow they emerged out the far side, still running in grid order but it was clear that this was going to be an action packed race. Doran displaced Denning almost immediately and began to attack Cullen for the lead. “I knew to stay out of trouble”, said Denning later, “So I let the boys at it!”
And at it they went, as Doran continued his attack on the leader. When they finally made contact at turn one, Denning didn’t need to be asked twice, and simply drove around the outside of them both to take the lead.
After that, it was business as usual for the former karter as he got the head down and eased away for a strong win, also assuring himself of the title in the process.
Reflecting on the win, Denning said: “I’m over the moon! My first championship in thirteen years racing. I’ve come close on four occasions before but today was my day.
“A massive thanks to all my sponsors who got me here, it wouldn’t have happened without them- and also to Murray Motorsport who did a great job all year long!”
All eyes were on the grid for race two, for two reasons. The new champion, courtesy of the top six being reversed, was in sixth place with, for the first time this season, nothing to lose.
To add more spice, Doran had been excluded from race one for his part in the incidents with Cullen and was starting right at the back, determined to redress the balance.
The new champion was out of luck though, as he somehow picked up a puncture on the warm up lap, sending him rushing to the pits for a wheel change as the rest lined up to do battle.
Graham McDonnell has been one of Denning’s closest challengers in 2020 and it was he who took up pole position for the final race of the season, with Cullen alongside.
When the lights went out, McDonnell made a great start to fend off Cullen down into turn one. From then on, he drove a perfect race and crossing the line for a superb win, just over two seconds ahead of Cullen.
As for Doran, he had typically thrown caution to the wind, crossing the line ahead of half the pack at the end of the opening lap. His charge didn’t stop there however and he somehow crossed the line in third place, having smashed Denning’s recently set lap record in the process.