Saturday 6th April saw the North Ulster Car Club host the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship at Nutts Corner for the second time this season. With lots of heavy rain on the Friday, everyone thought that a re-run of the extremely wet first round was on the agenda, however thankfully this wasn’t the case.
With the Northern Ireland Hill climb season seeing its opening round next Saturday at Croft Hillclimb and the upcoming Easter Stages Rally it was great to see several competitors using this sprint event as a test session ahead of both of these events. Indeed the event attracted 68 starters.
With the sun splitting the trees at Nutts corner , practice got underway and defending Champion Adrian Pollock started where he left off from the last round and powered to the top of the time sheets, a mere 0.16 seconds ahead of 7 time (in a row!!) Northern Ireland Hillclimb Champion Graham Thompson in his GTR Turbo with Gerard O`Connell third in his Radical SR8.
From a personal point of view I was delighted to see the return of 3 time Northern Ireland Sprint Champion Simon Woodside as well as well known local competitor Ken Colbert. Simon who last won the championship in 2008 hadn’t sat in his 2008 Sprint Championship winning Pilbeam since the last round of the 2008 championship so it was great to see him going so well all day.
For someone who said he felt a bit rusty in the car, it didn’t appear to be the case from a spectator’s perspective. Many of you will remember Ken Colbert in his venerable rear engine Peugeot 205 which he had numerous successes in rallying, sprints and indeed hilclimbs over the years.
Alan Jardine – Photo courtesy of Gary Craig
Ken purchased a Lotus Sunbeam last year which he has now decided to sprint in. He did advise that his good friend Alan Jardine had been a major force in encouraging his return. To show his appreciation of this Ken beat him by a mere 1.08secs. I predict a few more close tussles between these 2 Dungannon men before the season is out.
As temperatures increased so did the action on the track. Adrian Pollock set the fastest time in run 1 which put him a mere 0.31 sec ahead of hard charging Graham Thompson with Gerard O`Connell third. Adrian then went faster again in the second run before setting FTD in run 3 with a stunning run of 90.65 secs. Graham Thompsons whopping first run time was sufficient for him to retain second overall with Simon Woodside taking third with a blinding third run time of 93.4 seconds, a mere 1.15 secs ahead of championship leader Joe Courtney.
The 3 class 14 drivers all had fabulous results with George Stevenson taking eighth overall with lewis Wilson 9th overall a mere 0.15 seconds ahead of Catherine Donnelly who was tenth overall. This was a stunning result for Catherine who seems to get faster every event she does in her Delta. Catherine was also the fastest female competitor.
Some other notable results amongst the runners were Tom Devaney who took the class 7 win and 12th overall after an epic battle with Paul Hamill all day. David Strain continued his giant killing season and placed his little 205gti 19th overall. You may recall that at the wet first round here David was 6th overall!! David is now third in the Modified Category standings. Dermot O`Hagan placed his little civic 20th overall after a brilliant first run and Rally man Nicky Caughy put his mark 2 Escort 22nd overall.
Dennis Watson – Photo courtesy of Gary Craig
In the battle for road going honours Richard Munnis was the fastest roadgoing competitor in his westfield whilst Andrew Robb continued his winning ways and took the honour of fastest roadgoing saloon in his BMW M3 with Michael Clarke next.
In the modified Battle Roger Gage was fastest modified driver in the family Maguire Mini with Oliver Cormican second and Alan Roddy third modified saloon. Sadly for us Roger is focusing on the Hillclimb Championship this year, as his giant killing, flat out driving style and hugely impressive onboard footage is currently missed by all the sprint competitors and spectators.
In the historic battle Alan Jardine took the historic honours from Arthur Ovens and Mervyn Getty.
In the much anticipated battle for the Fastest Mini in the West Karl Johnston took a last gasp last run go at the title and managed to pip Gary to the title, despite all of Garys efforts including fitting new slicks to try to keep Karl at bay.
Lastly the overall championship is currently lead by Joe Courtney whose consistent start to the championship (a second and two thirds) sees him 5 points ahead of runner up Adrian Pollock. Adrian has won 2 of the 3 rounds to date but missed the first round. Third overall is currently held by Gerard O`Connell who ties on points with Adrian Pollock. Again Gerard`s consistency has helped him no end this year and first round winner Steven Gault is fourth.
Words: DAVID EVANS #154 | Photos: Gary Craig Motorsport Photography
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