This is the now annual, two-day British Sprint Championship event, which sees rounds 10 and 11 of the SBD Motorsport, MSA British Sprint Championship also taking place, with round 11 being held on 05 August.
So far, a strong entry of top British contenders has been received for this event as well as the cream of the Local and Irish competitors, who always make the British Sprint competitors work for their points.
This years British Championship is (after 7 rounds) topped by Scotlands Heather Calder who is tied in the lead with her father, Colin Calder, in their 680 BHP Gould GR55. Heather was the 2017 British Sprint Champion after pipping her father to the title which he has won 4 times previously.
Third place is held by John Graham who is only 1 point behind the Calders whilst Stuart Robb has made a return to the British Sprint Championship this year in the car which was previously, and successfully campaigned in Northern Ireland by the late John Leinster.
With both Calders and Robb all being previous winners at this event, the action is set to be hotter than our recent heat wave!
That is before you include the local drivers who will be looking to upset the apple-cart, such as NI championship leader Adrian Pollock in his dalarra, John Morgan in the family Pilbeam, Sylvie Mullans in his Gould, Steven Gault in his Reynard, and Gerard O’Connell in his mighty Radical.
Action is set to start on Saturday at 9am for practice with first timed runs pencilled in for 1230. Sunday will see practice commence at 1200.
In terms of the the SW Adair tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship, a quick glance shows that it’s still all to play for in nearly all the classes, as well as the overall title chase which is now firmly between Adrian Pollock and John Morgan.
The roadgoing category is tight once you remove the leader Gerry MCGarrity from the equation with five different drivers tied on points in 2nd place with 3 different people taking max points In the category so far, and Gerry has never finished better than 3rd – proof that consistency wins!
The modified class is a little less open with Daniel Campbell having a 4 point lead over Oliver Cormican, however I’ve seen Oliver at three hillclimbs this year and only a fool would discount him in that title race, especially with five points-scoring rounds remaining.
This WILL be interesting to watch as the season draws in, Oliver likes to find the limit and then drive past it, giving it a wave on the way past.
In terms of the classes, Gary Mcclurg must be an early favourite for class 1 honours with a 7-point lead, however closer inspection shows that he is the only driver to score on all 3 rounds. Stephen Morrisey is 2nd and Dennis Watson third.
Class 2 is currently in the hands of Michael Clarke, but Tom lawther has a “round in hand” having only scored in two rounds and with only being 4 points behind Michael, “Big Tom” could pull a rabbit out of a hat and prove once again that experience counts and the Rover SD1 is still the car to have.
The 4wd roadgoing boys in class 3 like to share. With the class having three drivers tied on 5 points after all taking a win a piece. So far, Phil Cardy has the lead over Paul Montgomery, from Kenny Wylie but that’s simply down to the order in which they won their rounds.
Class 4 seems to be going Gardiner McIlwaines way as he has a 10 point lead over himself, Gardiner is going superbly well this season in the Westfield, putting it further up the time sheets than it’s been before, despite no class rivals.
Classes 6a and 6b are both going the way of Ards Penninsula men as David Evans has the nod by 4 points over Phil Robinsonin in class 6a with Gary Milligan tied in 3rd with Adam Brogan. Sadly Adam has sold his Peugeot, so won’t be out again in that this year, but Scott Walker, who made his debut in Nutts Corner in June seems, based on what’s been seen so far, as if he may be able to take the fight to the rest of the class.
David Evans is well known to go well at Kirkistown so this will be a good class to watch as the year pans out.
Class 6b is going the direction of Brian Fitzmaurice who has a 4 point lead over Dermot O’Hagan in his civic. Dermot and Brian have had a great tussle so far this season with each beating the other, once so far. Dermot has a round in hand having only done 2 sprints against Brian’s 3. This will be a fight to the last and will be a civic battle all the way.
Class 7 is a very tight affair with 2 points separating Clive Latimer and Graham Boyce. Whilst Clive has proven to be very very fast in his Sylva Riot, Graham’s experience and confidence in his Dax will prove invaluable now that all the remaining rounds are to be held at the fast, flowing circuits which Clive hasn’t yet visited in his pocket rocket.
Lewis Dunlop so far has the upper hand over Ian Howard in class 8 in the mini battle. Will Lewis’s steel mini be able to hold off Ian’s spaceframed flying machine at the end of the year?? Lewis certainly seems to think so.
Class 9 this year should be renamed the “Radical class” as Gerard O’Connell has a 7-point lead over Lee Kirkwoods Radical. Gordon Buckley takes third in his radical. However this class finishes out at the end of the season, it’s guaranteed to have a Radical winner!
Alan Cassels has had a sprint season to forget this year so far, with only one result In class 10. However in his only finish he finished first and is 9 points behind class leader Alan Roddy. With five scoring rounds left, and Alan intending to win them all, this will be a very very close class to call at the end of the year as drop scores and bonus points come into play. Watch this space.
Daniel Campbell has the nod in class 11 with a 7-point lead over Norman Armstrong. Daniel is the only person to take three scores in this class so far, and both Norman Armstrong and Seamous Morris (third in class) will be looking to decrease this gap over the remaining rounds.
Class 12 sees Oliver Cormican leading the class by 10-points over Ivan McCullough. These two have been inseparable in the hills this season ,with Oliver having the nod over Ivan there too. It will be interesting to see how they fair out now that the championship moves to the longer faster circuits where Ivan can stretch the legs of the GTR and Oliver doesn’t have as many corners to hurtle around, way too fast.
Then of course Michael White may well appear in his insanely fast legacy and completely upset the efforts of both men thus far.
Henry Campbell has stamped his authority on class 13 and has a 6-point lead over Basil Barnes, with Mike Todd third. Mike Todd managed to take the class win last time out at Nutts Corner from Henry, so if Mike continues to sprint, he may well give Henry some competition which would be great for the class.
George Stevenson has had three wins from three starts in class 14 and has a healthy 4 point lead over Thomas Corey in 2nd with Lewis Wilson third. The more nimble Jedi of George Stevenson is hard to beat but both Thomas and Lewis are known to go well at Kirkistown and let’s not forget John Donnelly, who is fourth currently.
Class 15 has been superb to watch this season with Adrian Pollock piping John Morgan by 1 point. Steven Gault is third in his Reynard, 7-points off the leader. This is Stevens first year in the car and he’s still getting used to it, but I wouldn’t bet against him taking an outright win before the season is over as he builds up seat time and experience in the car.
Class 16a has Gerry McGarrity written all over it. As he leads the class from Mervin Johnston and Karl Johnston. I strongly suggest that you leave whatever your doing and watch Gerry as he thrashes the life out of his little mini at every opportunity. He’s a pleasure to watch – if your nerves can take it.
Class 16b is so far lead by Steven Strain in his escort, from Iain Morgan and Karl Johnston. So far Steven has won the class at the two rounds he has competed on, and usually goes extremely well at Kirkistown. Work commitments mean that Steven may not be out as much as he would like to be but when he is out he throws the little escort about like a rag doll!
So there you go. A brief synopsis of he 2018 SW Adair Northern Ireland Sprint Championship to date – now get the next round, the two-day event hosting the British Series, into your diary!
Words: David Evans – #154