Clare & Galway Hillclimb weekend review.
Round 3 & 4 of the Naylor Engineering Hillclimb and Sprint Championship 2014decended on the picturesque village of Ballyvaughan, Co Clare last weekend. The scenery alone is enough should have been enough to entice the drivers back to this amazing part of the country.
Day 1 brought the drivers to the famous Corkscrew Hill with its twists and turns would test the most seasoned of drivers and it didn’t disappoint. Last years Champion Simon McKinley and local hero Sylvie Mullins battled it out all day for top honors. McKinley raced his Lant Rt2 and Mullins had his impeccably prepared Gould GR 37 and both drivers swapped top spot all day but McKinley took top spot in the last run by a mere 0.88 of a second. Although the weather turned bad near the end of the day all drivers got some great runs in on a very challenging hill. A special thank you must go to Dermot Kelleher and his amazing team who made sure they got 5 timed runs in and very little delays all day.
Gary Cunningham in his bright and loud (as in colour not noise) Punto raced to victory on Saturday but even with changing from wet to slick tyres could not catch his good (and older) friend Mick O’Shea. Ray O’Neill raced into 2nd place in Class 1 with his Fiat Uno, 3rd place and first Cinquecento home was Damien Walsh followed very closely by Senan O’Connor, Joe Courtney, Gary Egan, Ivalo Linder and Adan Craughan who took the Novice award for the day also.
Brian Ledwith with a Twincam Corolla took top points from Class 2 on Saturday but had to work hard as Gary Graham in his Peugeot 205 was less than half a second behind him. 3rd in Class 2 was Ger Longeran in a Peugeot 205 also.
Local youngster Rob Dwane was in flying form all day and even at one stage had himself up to 4th overall but as other times improved Rob dropped back to 5th overall but took full Class points for Saturday. Brendan O’Mahoney in his Red Alfa took 2nd in Class 3a.
Eanna Carroll’s Turbo’d Civic was on tune all day and powered to Class honors on Saturday and 6th Overall. Hillclimb Newcomer Mick Walsh had a spectacular drive on Saturday and finished 2nd in Class and 8th Overall. Eddie Lyons in his Escort wasn’t far behind in 3rd.
David Miller with his Jaguar XK140 came home in 1st place in Class 4 just ahead of Sean Murray’s Lotus Elan +2s. Not far behind in 3rd place Hillclimb veteran Donal Griffin in a borrowed Avenger. Ken McAvoy in his Riley 1.5 12/4 came home in 4th, Mick O’Shea and his MGB GT got 5th (still faster than Gary Cunningham) Detlef Heyer’s BMW 328 in 6th, Ed Cassidy and his Iona Special 6 Cyl. In 7th and finally Donal Morrissey in his Ford Nota Special was 8th.
You really have to get out on the hill and watch these fantastic cars in action. The cars maybe as old as 1930’s but the drivers make sure they give it there all.
Philip O’Connor broke the golden rule on Saturday and double drove his relation Ger O’Connor’s Vee and bet him! So Philip grabbed first place, Ger O’Connor came in 2nd followed closely by John Whitley in his Laser in 3rd.
John Donnelly grabbed 1st place in his Reynard SF80 on Saturday but breathing down his neck all day was Robert Bell in 2nd place only 0.92 behind him. Emmet Dunne finished 3rd followed closely by Thomas Corey in 4th and Catherine Donnelly in 5th in a Delta T91
Simon McKinley took his time choosing his runs carefully and maximizing grip to blast his way up the hill and claimed fastest time of the day with a 51.69 to earn 1st in Class and Fastest over all. Local man Sylvie Mullins tried his best but could only get to 0.88 behind McKinley. Rory Stephens Radicle SR8 finished 3rd in Class and 3rd Overall. Padraig Forde’s Scottclimber grabbed 4th and Serial Car Breaker Dermot Nolan finished 5th and damaged the clutch in the car again!
Johnny Cunningham took 1st place followed into 2nd with Martin Casey, 3rd was Conor Nash, 4th John Kennedy and 5th was John Crossle.
Kieran Burke took top points in Class 9 followed closely home by Philip Callanan in 2nd.
Day 2 and all drivers headed for the spectacular Ballyalban Hill. Although this year the Hill had to be shortened but it still had 2 kilometres all the straights and turns it has been made famous for. Local man Sylvie Mullins became the Hero of the Day by powering his Gould GR 37 to fastest time of the day. Simon McKinley opted for his Famous Mk2 but on his 3rd run suffered a mechanical fault and let Rory Stephens into 2nd overall. Some say the fault was actually caused by Stephens but an insider has told me it was just a faulty fuel pump. Clerk of the Course for Sunday was Aidan Connelly who proved even though it was his first hill in charge he was a natural at it. Congrats to Aidan and his team for another fantastically run event.
A little quieter after Saturday nights antics Gary Cunningham powered his brightly coloured Punto into top spot again on Sunday with a fantastic time of 77.38 ahead of 2nd placed Joe Courtney who took the title of first Cinquecento home. 3rd place went to Senan O’Connor who stayed ahead of Damien Walsh in 4th all day. Gary Egan in a borrowed Nolan Motorsport Cinquecento believed he could fly on the 4th run and ended up with a fantastic view of the Burren upside for his troubles but was very fortunate to walk away for his spectacular accident came 5th, Ray O’Neill in the Uno grabbed 6th spot followed home by Adan Craughan, Ivalo Linder and Dean Laffey.
Brian Ledwith was the sole competitor in Class 2 on Sunday and gained maximum Class points and Championship points also with a time of 73.37.
Local lad Rob Dwane yet again dominated Class 3a in 1st place ahead of 2nd placed John Laffey in his Vauxhall Chevette.
The Escort is back, Simon McKinley grabbed 1st in Class and 3rd overall in his Mk2 Escort, 2nd in Class was Eanna Carroll in the Civic, 3rd went to Mick Walsh who was getting more experience with the hills and 4th went to Galway man Michael Melia in his Nisworth.
David Miller took Class honors on Sunday also in his Jaguar XK140, 2nd place went to Detlef Heyer, 3rd was Ken McAvoy who drove onto the Burren for a closer look on Run 2 but escaped without any damage, Mick O’Shea was 4th in the MGB GT, 5th went to Sean Murray in the Lotus Elan +2s, 6th in Class was Ed Cassidy’s Iona Special 6 Cyl., 7th was Tony Canny and his TT Sprite, 8th Kieran White and his TRS and 9th place in Class 4 went to Donal Morrissey in his Ford Nota Special.
Philip O’Connor grabbed top spot again on Sunday but was fortunate he drove first on the weekend as his driving partner Ger O’Connor decided he wanted a closer look at how the walls were built on the Burren and forgot to stop before the wall. John Whitley grabbed second spot in his Formula Ford Laser.
Rupert Bell was on form on Sunday and powered the Crossle 30F home for 1st in Class and 4th overall. 2nd in Class went to John Donnelly, 3rd was Thomas Corey, 4th went to Emmet Dunne and 5th to Brian McMahon in his gorgeous Renault Migale. 6th in Class was Catherine Donnelly in her Delta T91
Sylvie Mullins was a sight to behold and a real crowd pleaser driving his Gould GR37 to top spot in Class 7 and 1st overall. Rory Stephens grabbed 2nd in Class after sabotaging Simon McKinley’s run. Padraig Forde raced into 3rd place in Class and finally after fixing yet another clutch Dermot Nolan grabbed 4th in Class.
A great turn out of 11 cars in this Class on Sunday. 1st in Class went to Johnny Cunningham, 2nd Frank Byrnes with his first ever hill in a saloon car, 3rd went to Martin Casey, 4th to Conor Nash, 5th was Philip Walsh, 6th went to John Walsh, 7th Eoin Melia, 8th Eoghain McMahon, 9th Brian Hassett, 10th James Kissane and 11th went to John Kennedy
Niall O’Sullivan took the top spot flowed closely home by John O’Sullivan in 2nd, next home was Pat Barry in 3rd and just behind him was Philip Callanan. 5th place went to Kieran Burke.
Two great days of racing in Clare. Next up for the Championship is a Sprint in Wexford on 5th and 6th of July so loads of time to get your cars together for then. Again a special mention to both Clare and Galway Motorclub’s for 2 greats days.