A damp day led to very tricky conditions for UAC’s Knockagh Hillclimb and the 54 car entry struggled all day with lack of grip with several off road incidents, but the UAC team coped well in the circumstances.
The prospect of increased competition at the front has brought Graham Thompson back in 2019 and he swapped the lead with Seamus Morris and Ricky McGimpsey on the first two damp timed runs.
A drying road for the last run let Graham break clear of Ricky by almost a second but an error by Seamus meant he didn’t go quicker and Ryan McGimpsey set a great time to pip Seamus for third overall.
Andy Hawthorne was right in the mix for the overall win in the wet conditions but went off on the last run and was fortunate to escape unharmed. Alan Cassells ended a difficult day with a good time on the last run to pip Andy for fifth place overall.
In the Saloon Championships, Ivan McCullough used the 4WD of the Nissan GTR to good effect to be leading Modified Saloon and an excellent 7th overall ahead of Roger Gage and Daniel Campbell.
In the Roadgoing Saloons, Paul Montgomery used the power and traction of the Impreza to great effect to win the section and take a brilliant 8th overall. Michael McAllister and Andrew Robb completed the Roadgoing Saloon top three.
In the Classes, 2A was, as usual, mightily competitive with a tight battle between the Escorts of Michael McAllister and David Gibson and the BMW of Andrew Robb. The drying road on Run 3 was the decisive point and Michael McAllister pulled off another last ditch banzai run to win from the BMW with David Gibson third.
The other close battles were in 6A between Stephen Harvey and Gordon Fogarty and Class 7 where the Hawthorne twins were close as usual with Steven taking the honours this time.
The other Class winners were Denis Watson, Paul Magill, Paul Montgomery, Richard Munnis (with a new Class Record), Roger Gage, Neil Dugan, Alan Cassells, Daniel Campbell, Ivan McCullough, Ryan McGimpsey, Graham Thompson, Gerry McGarrity, Robert McGimpsey and Michael Clarke.
So, a long and difficult day for everyone and the UAC Team will be glad to get a rest after the heavy workload involved in running Craigantlet and Knockagh so close together. We are now at the mid-point of the season and move on to Omagh Motor Club’s Spamount event. This is a Bonus Point scoring event and competitors are encouraged to support the Club with an entry.
The Championship table show Ricky McGimpsey out front with Graham Thompson 2nd and Chris Houston and Alan Cassells tied for third. Early days yet though with lots of points to play for.
In the modified section of the Saloons, Roger Gage leads the way from Daniel Campbell with pre-season favourite Oliver Cormican struggling with reliability issues. Michael McAllister leads the Roadgoing Saloon table from Andrew Robb but Paul Montgomery is closing fast.
Words: ALAN CASSELLS #5 | Photos: Gary Craig Motorsport Photography
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2019 ANICC MILLERS OILS N.I. HILLCLIMB CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
13 April: Croft Hillclimb Holywood, Co. Down
27 April: Drumhorc Hillclimb Laurencetown near Banbridge
04 May: Craigantlet Hillclimb Craigantlet Hills above Belfast
18 May: Knockagh Hillclimb Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim
25 May: Spamount Hillclimb Castlederg , Co Tyrone
28 June & 29 June: Cairncastle Hillclimb Festival Larne, Co. Antrim
10 August: Garron Point Hillclimb Carnlough, Co. Antrim
24 August: Eagles Rock Hillclimb Magilligan, near Coleraine