Saturday 10 October saw the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship return to Kirkistown for the TT Bistro, North Down House, Kirkistown Sprint which was hosted by the Ulster Automobile Club.
This event was always going to be popular and saw the 100 entries, plus reserves taken within 1hour and 47 minutes of entries going live on Rallyscore.
Unfortunately due to some last minute car problems and the increasing Covid 19 restrictions in the ROI, only 95 competitors started the event on Saturday morning. This is testament to how popular the sprint scene has become this season when you think back to entry levels of previous years.
With the weather forecast to be dry until later afternoon, the practice was completed sharply and then it was straight into the timed runs with Alan Cassells setting the early overall pace. However Oliver Cormican, who is still getting the hang of his new VW Polo, showed just how fast this polo is as he set a 137mph speed through the speed trap.
This proved to be the fastest speed trap time of the day as no one was able to equal, or beat it, despite their best attempts. Alan Cassells was the closest in his turbo Charged OMS with a 136mph speed trap time. Sadly Oliver only managed one run on Saturday as a small seal let go on his car and he decided not to compete further.
This proved to be a good decision, although Oliver did spend the remainder of the day on a knife edge as he watched everyone’s speed trap times to make sure no one took his fastest speed claim from him.
As the day went on there was a mammoth 4-way battle at the top of the table between eventual winner Alan Cassells, 2-time NI sprint Champion Adrian Pollock, multiple class winner Steven Gault and 3-time NI sprint champion Simon Woodside, all in their big class 15 single seaters.
Alan Cassells lead from the start, however defending Champion Adrian Pollock managed to reduce the gap to 0.89 secs after the second timed run before Alan set a whopping third timed run to take the fastest time of the day with a 90.73sec run. Out of interest Adrian’s third timed run was only 0.01 of a second slower than his second timed run which shows just how close to the limit and how consistent Adrian was. His fastest run was 93.27secs.
Steven Gault set a blinding third run time to take third with a 97.86 sec run, a mere 0.04 secs ahead of forth placed Simon Woodside who set a 94.90sec run for 4th overall. This is only Simons second event in this car this season and only his third sprint in several years so it’s good to see Simon back out again and being so close to the top of the time sheets.
A special mention goes to fifth placed Ryan McGimpsey who pedaled his little Jedi MK1 to 5th overall with a final run of 99.43secs which was a mere 0.21secs ahead of 6th placed Trevor Roberts in his newer Jedi Mk4. Trevor and Ryan had a tremendous battle all day between themselves and the larger capacity, class 15 cars.
When you consider that Trevor and Ryan are both under 1400cc and give away at least 600cc to the larger capacity class 15 cars it shows just how quickly these 2 guys are driving. If either of them could pick up a class 15 car I’m sure that they would both be in the middle of the dual for outright wins.
On a personal note I cannot remember the last time there were so many top class drivers, in top class cars, together at the top of the time-sheets, all with the potential to take overall honors. It is just fabulous to watch as a spectator.
As usual there were some superb battles amongst the classes as well, with Adam Brogan taking the class 2b win, a mere 0.25 secs ahead of Paul Magill in their Mazda MX5`s, class 6a saw a mere 0.47 secs separate third placed Stephen Harvey, fourth Placed Karl Johnston and fifth placed David Evans. These are just 2 examples from the time-sheets
In terms of the categories, Andrew Robb took road-going honors again in his BMW M3 with a healthy 2.39 sec advantage over his father, Alfred Robb, with Conor Hamill third in his BMW M3. This was Andrew`s 5th road going category win of the year and he now has one hand firmly planted on the road going championship title.
In the Modified category, Oliver Cormican again took top honors in his Polo with Daniel Campbell second, just ahead of his father Garry Campbell who was third. Once again Daniel proved to be the fastest from that particular Campbell family. Oliver also now has one hand on the modified championship however it’s not over yet.
Jim Hutchinson again took the honors in the Specialist Category with Gerard O`Connell second and David Hawthorne third. This award will go down to the wire as the season concludes. Gerard O`Connell currently leads this category championship on 20 points with 4 scores. David Hawthorne is second on 19 points from 5 scores and Jim Hutchinson third on 18 points from 3 scores! There are still 10 points to be won, and dropped scores to be considered, so this really will go down to the wire.
The Heaslip Ladies Challenge Trophy sees a new leader after this event as Sheryl McBride now goes 1-point ahead of Emma Campbell after chasing Emma all season. Olivia Coulter is tied in third with Catherine Donnelly and Kathy McDade. Again the Ladies Challenge Trophy will go down to the wire with dropped scores to be considered.
The unofficial category for fastest mini in the West goes about as far west as it could go as Karl Johnston takes that honor after an outstanding drive in his newly built mini. Gerry McGarrity was second and Gary Milligan was third. Has anyone heard wee Gerry’s excuses yet??
The next event is scheduled for Kirkistown on 31 October and will be the 500MRCI`S Halloween sprint. Hopefully Covid-19 restrictions do not step in and effect this event as there are too many exciting battles still to be had.
Words: DAVID EVANS #154 | Photos: Gary Craig Motorsport Photography
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