Naylor Engineering National Hillclimb & Sprint Championship 2015 Opener Preview- with Derek Power

Preparations are well under way for Rounds One & Two of the “Naylor Engineering National Hillclimb & Sprint Championship 2015” which will take place on Saturday April 25th. and Sunday April 26th. among the fabulous Burren Landscape of Ballyvaughan, in North County Clare. This year’s 12 round Championship will run over six weekends taking in some of the most scenic parts of Clare, Galway, Wexford, Carlow, Limerick, Wicklow and Donegal and the events bring a much needed boost to the local economy with demand for accommodation, food and entertainment. Once again it will be a competitors best 8 results from 12 rounds that will count.

The Events are as follows –

25/26 April Galway / Clare Hillclimb (co-promoted)

30/31 May Carlow Sprint / Hillclimb

4/5 July Wexford Sprint (provisional)

1/2 August Limerick Hillclimb / Sprint

15/16 August MEC Hillclimb Weekend

5/6 September Donegal Hillclimb

The Clare Motor Club have teamed up with the Galway Motor Club to co-promote the Hillclimb Weekend which is based in Ballyvaughan. The Clare Club will run the Scalp Hill near Carron Village on Saturday under Clerk of the Course Dermot Kelleher. This 1.7km very fast challenging hill starts just above Michael Cusack’s Football Pitch and climbs between two
cliff faces followed by a series of fast sweeping bends as it heads towards Carron Village in the Heart of the Beautiful Burren Countryside and will pose a challenging test for all competitors in the various classes.This version of the Scalp Hill was last run back in 2009 as part of the Clare Club’s Hillclimb Weekend and the record which stands at the moment for the hill is 43.96 seconds which was set by Limerick’s Paul O’Connell driving his Delta T79 Warrior. 2nd. Overall that year was Galway’s Frank Byrnes who set a time of 44.60 seconds in his Pilbeam MP 45 Rover V8 while local ace Sylvie Mullins from Ballyvaughan finished 3rd overall with a time of 46.05 in his Gould GR 37 Judd. Incidentally Sylvie burst a tyre when he clipped a rock as he climbed between the two cliff faces after the start but he still managed to complete his run and crossed the finish line with the tyre completely flat. John McNamara from Lisdoonvarna finished fourth with a time of 47.49s in his Coogar V8 while Simon McKinley finished fifth on 47.64s in his Warrior MK2 Escort.

On Sunday the Galway Motor Club will run the short version of the famous Ballyallaban Hill. The 2Km. Climb starts above the entrance to Ballyallaban House. The hill is extremely fast with a number of long straights interspersed with tight bends. One of the advantages of the shorter hill is that it guarantees drivers extra mileage for their money. Aiden Connolly from Ballyvaughan is Clerk of the Course for the Galway Motor Club run event. This will give competitors a great opportunity to compete on two of the best and most challenging hills in the Hillclimb Championship Series. Both Clubs are keen to attract a strong rally car entry as well as racing cars and with a large paddock area at the bottom of both hills the Clare & Galway Clubs are assuring competitors that both hills will guarantee all competitors a fantastic family weekend of motorsport. HQ for the weekend is Logue’s Lodge, Ballyvaughan and there will be a special weekend menu available each night over the weekend including prizegiving, video footage of each day’s action and music till late.

The standard of competition promises to be as high as ever in 2015. Simon McKinley the reigning multiple champion will be out to defend his run of victories in his 2.4 litre Warrior engined Lant single seater. This car has been at the forefront of Irish Hillclimbing for 15 years now and due to constant development it continues there today. It even has an F1 style Drag Reduction System to allow the alloy blocked 2.4 Warrior engine perform to its best. Other championship contenders like Rory Stephens in his beautifully prepared SR8 Radical Sportscar, Robert Bell in his motorcycle engined Crossle and Joe Courtney in his ex Dermot Nolan F3 based Reynard mi16 are all expected to compete in this years championship. Clare’s Sylvie Mullins will also compete in the first two rounds in his stunning Judd engined Gould GR37 and will certainly provide a strong challenge to the current champion McKinley. Others like Deirdre McKinley (Simon’s wife), Galway’s Enna Carrol who became the first ever front wheel drive winner of the fastest overall saloon award in 2014 in his very quick front wheel drive Honda Civic Turbo are all expected to compete in Ballyvaughan. Clare’s young gun Robert Dwane who finished fifth overall in the 2014 championship in his dad’s spaceframed falcon mini will not compete on the opening rounds of the championship as he is studying for his exams, hopefully we will see him competing later in the year.

Event secretary for the Clare / Galway event is Catherine Connolly and Catherine can be contacted on 086-0714564 between 6.00pm and 9.00pm Only. Entry fee is 220 euro for both day’s or 130 euro for a single day with drivers getting a practice run followed by a minimum of three timed runs each day.

Marshalls are also required for both days and anybody interested in helping out should contact the marshall co-ordinators – Clare’s David Murphy on 087- 4187868 of Galway’s Patsy Finnerty on 087-2870702.

Regulations & Entry forms are now available to download from both club websites – www.claremotorclub.com or www.galwaymotorclub.ie or www.irishhillclimb.com

Image from Dermot Kelleher