Sunshine For Hillclimb Season Opener At Croft.
Last Saturday 18th April 2015 Croft Hillclimb, Holywood, Co Down again played host to Round 1 of the 2015 ANICC Millers Oils Hillclimb Championship, with Ulster’s hillclimbing fraternity again showing strong support for the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club NI run event, with a capacity entry of 70 cars, of which 67 took part on the day.
Clear blue skies and sunshine greeted the first practice runs which got underway around 10.30am with the 875metre course seeing plenty of spectacular action, courtesy of competitors taking advantage of the favourable weather and road conditions. The hill did see excursions by Rudy Gage, Maguire Mini and Graham Boyce in his Dax 52000 and unfortunately William Neil’s classic Mini succumbing to engine woes half way up the course on his second practice run, ending Neil’s event.
The sun continued to shine for the afternoons timed runs with competitors times tumbling, with their growing
confidence. Graham Thompson took FTD 33.53 and class 15 in his GTR Turbo with Seamus Morris 2nd, 34.13, Pilbeam MP62 and local honours and 3rd overall going to Newtownard’s Richard McGimpsey 34.77 in his RMG and providing the top 3 for class 15.
This years event has seen a resurgence in single seaters with nine examples on show over the two classes with Bangor’s Chris Houston winning class14, 35.01 in his OMS CF04 and 2nd John Donnelly’s Reynard SF80, 36.20 and 3rd Chris Kimm’s JedI MK4 37.65.
Top TSCC committee member for the second consecutive year was Bangor’s Nad Haghighi in his striking Vauxhall VX220, 43.22 and took 5th in the ultra competitive class 2, with Tony McLaughlin’s Ford Escort, 43.39 2nd and Dundonald’s Tony Hamilton’s Porsche 968 3rdnd, 44.17.
Some 43 years after his last regular appearance on an NI Championship Hillclimb and 27 years on the Croft Committee, Cultra Hillclimb Event Co-ordinator, TSCC President William Heaney from Bangor, took a break from preparations for this years’ 13th June event at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to debut his newly acquired Ford Puma, finishing second in class1 by just 0.08sec to the current leading lady in NI Hillclimbing, young Sheryl McBride from Newtownabbey. Sheryl’s father Colin kept it in the family by winning Class 4.
The event also saw the NI hillclimb debut of a supercharged MEV Rocket, which in the hands of Robert Davison won class 5 in 40.18 and 17 overall and multiple NI and Croft Saloon Title holder Rudi Gage, from Ballymoney, returned to the sport after 9 months of recovery from a cycling accident, to restore his position at the top of “Tin-Top” hillclimbing.
The Sport Libre 2WD class went to the ever committed Neil Dugan, 38.53, Peugeot 205, Thomas Purdy took 2nd 40.65 in his rapid Ford Escort and the ever spectacular Gary McWilliams rounding of the top 3 in his Toyota Starlet, 41.23.
The biggest and most varied class of the event was class 2 with David Gibson, 41.16 Ford Escort taking 1st, Adrian Mulholland, 41.20, Ford Escort and the ever consistent Comber septegenarian, Tom Lawther, 43.15, rounding off the top three in his rumbling big Rover SD1.
A touch of nostalgia was provided by a healthy vintage class with Michael Clarke’s Riley Special 49.39, 1st and Sheelagh Glover’s Riley Special 57.35 2nd and Alan Clarke’s Lancia Lambda 60.91 3rd.
After such a successful event TSCC, President William Heaney said, ” After such a successful day and great opener to the 2015 ANICC Miller Oils Hillclimb Championship, a big thanks must go to the competitors for their support, the marshals and club members for all their hard work in delivering such a slick event. The Club is especially grateful to the residents of Ballymenoch and Creightons Green Road, especially when being asked to host two motorsport events within the space of a month and the local PSNI for their continued support.”
Class winners were-
Class-1 Sheryl McBride Citroen Saxo
Class-2 Adrian Mullholland Ford Escort
Class-3 David Hunter Subaru Impreza
Class-4 Colin McBride Sylvia Leader
Class-5 Robert Davison MEV Rocket
Class-6 David McClurg Ford Fiesta
Class-6a Steven Gault Citroen Saxo
Class-7 Graham Boyce Dax 52000
Class-8 Rudi Gage Maguire Mini
Class-10 Alan Roddy Citroen Saxo
Class-1 Neil Dugan Peugeot 205
Class-12 Mark Lancashire Subaru Impreza
Class-14 Chris Houston OMS CF04
Class-15 Graham Thompson GTR Turbo
Class-16 Chris Wilson MG Midget
Class-17 Michael Taylor Riley Special
Main Image: W Brackenridge