Andrew HerronNorthern Ireland’s Andrew Herron recorded his maiden SEAT Cupra Championship podium finish at Donington Park in Leicestershire yesterday, Sunday, 4th May, to truly kick-start his 2008 campaign.

The 19-year-old Brian Herron Contracts backed ace, who only has one season of saloon car race experience under his belt, fought well to achieve a terrific third place finish during round six – the result only going to validate the pace he has shown throughout official testing.

Coupled with a fourth place finish in the earlier fifth round yesterday, where he missed out on climbing the rostrum by just 1.5 seconds, Andrew has risen to seventh place overall in the championship standings with 49 points.

Lining up third on the grid for the first of the weekend’s races, Andrew consolidated his position well and by lap four he was within just four 10ths of a second of Carl Breeze.

As round five entered its final third, the Dromore-based racer continued to press Breeze but he also came under pressure himself from 2007 ELF Renault Clio Cup Champion Martin Byford. Running nose-to-tail into the penultimate lap, Andrew defended the inside line into Redgate.

But Byford, with more grip at his disposal, managed to cut back from the outside on the exit of the turn and make the pass for third on the run through Hollywood. Forced to settle for fourth position, Andrew was disappointed but nonetheless pleased to record a highly creditable result.

Starting from second on the grid for round six, Andrew slipped behind Breeze into Redgate for the fist time and on the opening lap came under some pressure from the reigning SEAT Cupra Champion Jonathan Adam.

Andrew soon found his rhythm though, lapping quickly and consistently to close to within three 10ths of a second of Breeze into lap four. Into Goddards at the end of the lap, he then produced an outstanding piece of late-braking and overtaking to seize second place.

Immediately beginning to pull away from his rival, the JHR Developments racer opened up a 1.5 second gap inside two laps but as the race entered its closing stages, Andrew started to come under attack once again as he began to lose grip.

The outcome was decided at the final corner, Goddards Chicane, on the last lap. Having to defend from Breeze at Coppice meant Andrew made a slower exit from the turn and as the cars ran along the straight under the Dunlop Bridge, Breeze pulled alongside.

Under braking for the corner, contact occurred between the two which allowed Byford to sneak through and take second but Andrew did manage to hold on to claim third ahead of Breeze who straight-lined the chicane.

Commenting on round six, the Northern Irishman said: “I was fast at the start and I was really disappointed that Carl (Breeze) pipped me to the first corner as I knew I would be quicker than him during the early laps and I knew I had to try and build a gap.

“I need to work on my driving style a little bit to get the most out of my front tyres but to come away from this weekend with my first podium in SEAT is great. My first podium last year in the Clio Cup kick-started a good run for me so I hope this can do the same.”

Although afflicted by bad luck during the first two race meetings of the year at Brands Hatch and Rockingham, Andrew’s season now appears to be turning a corner and he’s hopeful of continued podium success during the next SEAT Cupra Championship event a fortnight from now at Thruxton in Hampshire.

“During Thruxton testing, my lap-by-lap race pace was as quick as anyone else out there so I’m feeling really confident for the next two rounds”, said Andrew, “I hope this success at Donington will be the first of many podium finishes in 2008.”

The SEAT Cupra Championship will resume in two weeks on 17th/18th May at Thruxton for the seventh and eighth rounds of the season.

Photo by SEAT Sport UK.