A day of extremes and high drama and gain an early start for all, writes Robbie Davison, yet a stunning late Spring morning had everyone in great form. The day remained dry and quite warm until late afternoon when it became much cooler and light rain dented the confidence of the last of the runners in T3.
Congratulations to Ricky McGimpsey on his second consecutive win. He was hard pressed all day by John Donnelly who used all his experience and guile but he remained a close second. John is a formidable competitor having won the event last year despite the appearance of a fullhouse WRC Subaru. Brendan Flynn continued to improve his pace despite his lightweight OMS not enjoying the bumpy road. Andy Hawthorne was next on the list a great result for a first visit.
A marvellous entry of 60 cars and as usual for Drumhorc, a large entry of rally cars both 2 and 4 wheel drive versions showing tremendous form all day.
The star of the group being Oliver Cormican in his Evo 8 who finished first in class and remarkable third overall and just .3 of a second away from Kenny McKinstrys record.
The talk of the event was Andy’s two twin sons David and Stephen who are the most competitive brothers you could ever meet. They traded times all day both incredibly ending up in 58.68 seconds a new record. A new record which Stephen was quick to claim as he was running first, that debate might continue for some time. Some going for a first visit. They are all heading to Spamount, I’m sure they will continue to punch above their weight and I believe them to be well and truly hooked on The Hills.
David Francis made a welcome return to the sport after a lay off in order to further develop his car. A chat at the top of the hill revealed an extra 100 bhp over the previous engine and wheel spin on demand in fourth gear. A car which demands full concentration. David won class 9.with Rudi a strong second.
Class 9 had substantial difficulties with Roger having a problem with the bumps at the second junction leading to him cashing and rolling through the hedge, the Maguire has sustained considerable damage. Roger reports that he is fine with no injuries but will be out for the rest of the season to facilitate repairs.
Gerard O Connell finished his three runs, his last being his fastest. Unfortunately it is reported that he hit the hedge heavily near the finish line and crossed the line on his roof. Dramatic and expensive finish. The Ascona 400 which had been much admired all day was badly damaged. Thankfully Gerard escaped uninjured. Good luck with the repairs and hopefully the bruises fade soon.
Alan Cassells again dominated class 10 taking a mighty 1.2 sec out of his own previous record.
In class 16a Gerry McGarrity was again uncatchable while in 16b Alan Jardine in his Mk1 Escort, although unchallenged took 1.5 seconds out of Stephen Strains previous best. Alan has just fitted a BDA to the car he has owned for 25 years and says the car is transformed.
Special mention must go to the huge class 2 entry but first I have to say Tom Lawther you and the big Rover were badly missed from the line up. Despite the best efforts of Conor Hamill in the M3, Adrian and Michael in the Escorts and Chris in the Renault. Chris only managed one run and was forced to retire with suspension problems. David Gibson drove the wheels off MDB delighting the photographers and spectators with his antics, winning Class 2 and was 0.5 of a second from the record.
Just a quick word about those who missed the event. Current champion Chris Houston was celebrating a birthday and still trying to pinpoint a persistent misfire. Graham Thompson love to see you do a few more this season I believe he was suffering from electrical maladies at Croft hope that’s sorted, David McKimm hopes to appear later in the season.
All in all a memorable day thanks to Newry Motor Club, Trailertek, who were the sponsors for the event , many thanks to Clive Latimer who was present with some staff and I believe enjoyed the day, the marshals, first aid staff timekeepers and everyone else who played a part in the running of the event. Special mention to Robert McGimpsey who volunteered as pit manager and adviser to those parked some distance from the start line. Who found it difficult to get the necessary information required to appear at the right time. His good work ensured everyone got three timed runs.
Everyone who was involved in the day deserves a mention here, unfortunately that’s just not possible so those who did well, scared themselves, clipped a ditch had a misfire or broke a clutch cable, I’m sure you will all be back for more so see you at Craigantlet, the pay is damned bad so that’s all folks.
2018 ANICC MILLERS OILS N.I. HILLCLIMB CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
14 April: Croft Hillclimb (Holywood, Co. Down) 28 April: Drumhorc Hillclimb (Laurencetown near Banbridge)
05 May: Craigantlet Hillclimb (Craigantlet Hills above Belfast)
26 May: Spamount Hillclimb (Castlederg, Co. Tyrone)
29 June + 30 June: Cairncastle Hillclimb Festival (Larne, Co. Antrim)
11 August: Garron Point Hillclimb (Carnlough, Co. Antrim)
25 August: Eagles Rock Hillclimb (Magilligan, near Coleraine)
15 Sept: Knockagh Hillclimb (nr. Carrickfergus)
Words: Robbie Davison #73 | Photos: William Neill – http://www.neillpics.co.uk
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