The Connaught Competition Engines 2010 Hillclimb championship has really started to erupt! Like our Icelandic friends and their volcano it shows no signs of stopping at least until September anyway! After the dust has settled on a record breaking weekend there is quite a story to tell.
Saturday in Ballyryan threatened rain but never really delivered on that promise. The early pace setters were Simon McKinley in the Lant rt2, Sylvie Mullins in his Gould Judd and slightly further back Paul O’Connell in his newly acquired Pilbeam Hart. Mullins and McKinley battled hard all day and eventually ended the day separated by the smallest of margins with Mullins posting a time of 43.40 seconds a new hill record and a mere hundredth of a second ahead of McKinley who finished on 43.41. O’Connell battled all day but never recovered from his slow start and despite improving on every run finished 0.5 seconds behind the leader. Was he ruing the decision to leave his trusty Delta at home?
Seamus Morris is really getting to grips with driving his new Pilbeam and again improved his time to finish 4th overall.
5th overall and probably the surprise result of the weekend was Galway’s Eanna Carroll in his giant killing Turbo Civic. The little blue Honda was absolutely flying all day and shamed a lot of single seaters! Brendan Keane survived some handling problems and despite a broken diffuser finished just 0.02 behind Carroll. Joe Courtney in his OMS Hornet was buzzing up through the field and finished a highly credible 7th Overall on his first visit to Ballyryan in a single seater. Rory “Granddad” Stephens started a weekend to forget with a puncture halfway up the hill and also gear selection problems that saw him restricted to just one run all day. Trevor Cullen in the Vauxhall engined G3 escort put in his now customary flawless drive to drift his way to 9th overall. Dermot “swollen” Nolan rounded out the top ten in his Reynard Gm 873 on a 54.66.
Class winners for the day were as follows.
Ray Cunningham (Mini) 55.52s, John Bradley (Corsa) 63.46s,
Stephen Gillis (Westfield SEI-GM) 55.15s, Eanna Carroll, Matt Dunne (MG
Midget) 48.02s (net), Enda Byrne (Leastone FV) 56.95s, Joe Courtney, Simon
McKinley, Shane Donohue (Escort) 64.29s, Sam Smyth (Escort) 55.98s.
Sunday and the much anticipated annual pilgrimage to Ballyallaban started explosively. Simon McKinley set out on his first run and blew away the established Hill record of 96.17 seconds, with an amazing opening high 95 second run. Sylvie Mullins who had decided to sit the morning out with clutch problems suddenly found himself in a battle to get his car ready to uphold local honor and missed the practice and first runs. O’Connell put in a personal best of 97 seconds, 4 seconds quicker than his fastest time last year in his Delta. The battle continued with McKinley keeping the pressure on with another faster low 95 second run, O’Connell responded with a low 96 second run. On the third and last run of the day McKinley again went quicker putting in a time of 95.02 seconds. Mullins charged up the hill in the 600hp Judd but failed to improve his time from last year at 98.20 seconds. O’Connell put in one final effort and managed to knock over a second off his time again to finish on 95.03 seconds. He had been victorious in these situations before but just could not do enough. Once again the victory went down to the smallest of margins in this epic encounter.
Seamus Morris once again got valuable mileage in his Pilbeam Mp62 and showed steady improvement to finish 4th overall.Next was Dublin’s Brendan Keane in his Swallow single seater celebrating his first return to Ballyallaban in 5 years with 5th overall. Rory Stephens compounded his problems on Saturday with an off on his 2nd run. Despite the car sustaining some damage Rory emerged relatively unscathed and was sent to Ennis Hospital as a precaution. From talking to him last night he is home in Dublin and in good spirits. Thanks to the Medical staff and marshals on the day. Eanna Carroll was again mixing it with the big boys in his Turbo Honda Civic and put in a fantastic time of 133.36 to finish just one hundredth ahead of Alan Kessie in his Gryphon. Thomas Corey in the Coogar rover v8 got the better of Dermot Nolan in his Reynard to round out the top ten.
Ray Cunningham (Mini) 119.28s, Tommy Murphy (Civic) 122.36s,
Stephen Gillis (Westfield SEI-GM) 118.63s, Rory Stephens, Matt Dunne (MG
Midget) 101.80s (net), Enda Byrne (Leastone FV) 124.74s, Siobhan McCann
(Ray ZX11) 121.02s, Paul O’Connell, Patrick Horan (Nova) 120.96s, Peter
Cummins (Darrian T90) 117.90s.
Full results are available here: Calendar and Results
Video by: Vantage Point Video
All photos supplied by caoradubha.com