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Byrne Battles to More Junior Podiums in Portimao

Updated: Jun 5

Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of the Year Jack Byrne enjoyed a successful weekend in the European Clio Cup Championship at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal.

Portimao was a new venue for the Clio Cup series so it was a blank sheet of paper for everyone and meant that the three practice sessions before the weekend would be crucial to learn the track ahead of the first qualifying session on Saturday morning.

With 36 cars on the grid, a good qualifying would be crucial to scoring points as there are no dropped scores during the season. Despite showing good pace during the session, Byrne was hampered by a lack of slipstream down the long main straight which cost him time and he would line up 15th for race one on Saturday evening.

Knowing he had work to do, Byrne got stuck in from the off in race one in what was a rather frenetic start to the race. Having gained 5 places on the opening lap, drama ensued at the start of lap two as Byrne was tagged exiting turn 4 and the chain reaction of avoidance seen two cars roll and a red flag was inevitably thrown. Byrne was lucky to escape the melee with just cosmetic damage and on the restart, the Wexford man was in a determined mood and gained three more places to run in 7th and was tagging onto the back of the lead train until contact from behind dropped him right back to 14th place with just one lap to go. Byrne started a last lap charge and picked off three cars in the space of a lap, snatching 11th in a drag race to the line. He also secured a podium in the European Junior Championship to add to his two Junior wins in Nogaro.

Qualifying for race two on Sunday morning seen the drivers faced with a damp track after a late shower of rain before the session. Faced with another tyre gamble, Byrne correctly chose slicks and had a much better run to qualify in 7th place for race two.

Lining up for race two alongside 17-time Clio champion Nicolas Milan, Byrne knew he had the pace to run at the front and duly tagged onto the back of the lead pack as the race got away. An early safety car intervention bunched the pack up and as racing resumed the battle for the lead was frantic as the slipstream played a huge role around the Portimao track. Byrne was holding steady in 7th but a major moment exiting the final corner dropped him off the lead train and into the next pack of cars.

A late race safety car seen a one lap shootout to decide the race and unfortunately for Byrne he suffered from contact three corners from the end dropping him back and he crossed the line in 10th place and third of the European Junior championship runners.

The series heads next to Hockenheim in Germany for Rounds 5 and 6 of the European Clio Cup.

Jack Byrne #86 GPA Racing:

“Overall we had a successful weekend in Portimao but we did suffer a little bit of bad luck in the races which dropped us back a bit. A huge thanks to GPA Racing for a great car all weekend and it was great to host a lot of my corporate partners this weekend. We will be working hard before the next weekend to continue to close the gap to the leaders but I am very pleased so far with how my season has started.”

Jack Byrne is supported by Motorsport Ireland | Sport Ireland | O’Brien Cement | West Wales Rally Spares | David Byrne Auto Repairs | Slaney View Motors | Ignite Training and Consultancy | James Bradley Car Repairs

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