2014 Hillclimb Masters Report
Now that the Hillclimb Masters is completed, it gives us an opportunity to thank the people who helped us to make it to the event.
With a long list of expenses involved in a trip like this, sponsors are vital. Expenses include: Preparations to tow vehicles and trailers, Significant amounts of Diesel, Ferry costs, Tolls, Race Fuel, Tyres, Upgrades, Spares, overhaul and full checks for all cars, gearbox rebuild for most (plus parts). There are also costs involved in upgrading licenses to international grade, and time taken off work has also to be taken into consideration – although most competitors were not complaining about this. The total cost for each competitor is estimated at €4,000.
Once again the Irish reputation for being generous was proven.
Regular supporters of Irish Hillclimbing, Championship Sponsor Naylor Engineering were one of the first to commit support. Part of the Naylor Engineering’s support included the Team Uniforms, which we were all most proud to wear, and would particularly like to extend our gratitude for. From there on, the support continued… Hillbilly’s Restaurant in Galway were very generous and for anyone who has not heard of them we recommend you check them out on their open day on Friday 31st of October, Eyre square is bound to be buzzing.
Frank Keane BMW have a long history of supporting Hillclimbing. Indeed, the winner of our National Championship each year is presented with the Frank Keane Trophy! And again on this occasion, Frank Keane has stepped in to help the team along their way.
Motorsport Ireland has been extremely helpful in organizing this team and have also very kindly supported financially.
Pamlube – one of Irelands biggest oil distributors and wholesalers, were an important part of getting the team to Europe. PFJ motorsport, Cleary Engineering and Memory Makers were also vital in sending the team on their way.
A special thanks to Alex Wilsdon who supplied race fuel to the team. This was especially supportive coming from a fellow competitor. We are also grateful for the continued support of Connaught Competition Engines, Steroplast, Burnfree and Radical.
All of this huge support helped us to travel to show Europe what we’ve got! We hope we have done them proud.
Results & Review!
To be gridded with Fagglioli (ITA), Schatz (FRA), Petit (FRA), Moran(UK) made this weekend fairly special. To be competing alongside 750bhp F1 Engined single seaters, 850bhp Audi Quattro’s and LeMans prototype cars. The International mixture of drivers and cars made for an exciting weekend’s competition!
In the Nations Cup, Ireland are happy to report that they finished 6th of the 12 Nations entered. The Team consisted of 4 drivers, Rory Stephens, Eanna Carroll, Deirdre McKinley, Simon McKinley and the Captain, Tommy Murphy. This event is based on consistency and the rules are worded well to ensure a great element of competition. To qualify for a ranking in the Nations Cup, a driver had to achieve a time under 130% of their Group’s winner. As Simon, Deirdre and Rory were in the same Group as Scott Moran, this was a slight challenge. Moran finished second overall and set a time of 48.587sec so these 3 drivers had to achieve times under 63.163sec. As such, the team were delighted to be eligible when the results were published.
Nations Cup Results:
5th Czech Republic
7th United Kingdom
The Overall winner was Nicolas Schatz (FRA) with a new outright record of 48.344sec in his 550bhp Norma, with average speed of 132.9kmph. However, he was closely followed by 5 times British Champion Scot Moran in his 700bhp Gould with a difference of just 0.243 sec. In fact the top 10 showed 4 British drivers and 6 from continental Europe (France, Czech Republic, Italy, Luxembourg & Switzerland) showing that there could be excellent competition between these cars.
Ireland’s Simon McKinley took full advantage of the damp conditions on the first timed run, resulting in his leading the event for a (very) short while. His final time was a 53.839sec with an average speed of 123.70kmph. He placed 25th overall. He also had the honour of having the oldest single seater at the event. His driving style, as usual, pleased the crowds, which were estimated at 20,000 people. He included his traditional wave at the top hairpin on every run, to the delight of the thousands of spectators.
Rory Stephens earned himself a few replays on the big screen involving both his back ends being out of shape after a high speed slide on his first timed run. His second timed run brought an improvement of 5 seconds in the dryer conditions, resulting in a very happy Grandad! He achieved a 57.997sec with an average speed of 114kmph, finishing 49th Overall.
Deirdre McKinley achieved a final time of 60.65sec with an average speed of 109.81kmph. She placed 68th overall and was delighted to finish half way up the timesheet. Her Group consisted of the 5 UK gents (Scott Moran, Will Hall, Trevor Willis, Darren Warwick & Tom New) and teammate / husband Simon McKinley. It’s safe to say it was a challenging group. She finished 3rd of the 8 ladies in the overall competition, with the lovely Martine Hubert (circa 400bhp Norma) and Cecile Cante (circa 210bhp F3) from the French Championship taking 1st and 2nd.
Loughrea’s Eanna Carroll had great times in practice, being 4th in Class by practice times in his group OpTCGT. He recorded a 63.246sec in competition finishing 89th Overall. After the first run, Eanna was chasing the S1 850bhp Audi Quattro of Keith Edwards, with just 2 hundredths of a second difference.
Joe Courtney had the honour of being the lowest powered car at the event. We have little doubt that the usual Cento Commitment he showed will have convinced spectators that Centos are the way forward… Spectators noted that Joe had exceptional cornering speed – just wait for the video footage!
There were 163 drivers on the entry list. Just 138 of these made it to the first timed run, due to various reasons such as damaging their car at an event just prior to this weekend or suffering mechanical / incident damage during the practice day. A member of the Irish delegation, Robert Dwane, was one such driver. On his first practice run, he suffered gearbox failure and he was unable to continue past turn 3. After such a long journey and being the youngest driver on the entry list, it was most unfortunate that he could not set a competitive time. However, in true Irish Hillclimb style, Robert helped and supported his fellow competitors for the rest of the weekend.
The Team would like to thank the lovely Paula Stephens and her assistants Michelle O’Shea and Rupert Bell for looking after little Rory McKinley, allowing both of his parents to compete. They even brought him for a visit to the pre-grid during a delay, where he had a look at the fastest cars in Europe up close. The Team would also like to thank the wonderful members of the Irish Hillclimb gang who travelled over to spectate and cheer on the Team! It nearly felt like an Irish paddock with so many Irish having travelled.
To chat with drivers whom you would usually watch on YouTube was somewhat surreal but they were all friendly and willing to chat. The paddock was a who’s who of Hill Climbing, with owners of large motorsport industry businesses all present and also willing to chat, including Connaught Competition Engines, DTA, DJ Racecars, Wolff Racecars etc. The Maltese team must take a special mention as they were, along with the Irish, the last cars queuing to compete on slicks when the heavy rain fell on Sunday. They were great craic and we hope to see them at an Irish Hill Climb in the coming year.
The Irish Hillclimb fraternity often refers to their sport as one big family. This event demonstrated that the worldwide Hillclimb community is just one even bigger family, with that unique spirit of comradery and craic extending naturally to this International Event.
Words: Fr. Joe Courtney and Grandad
IT Infrastructure: Deirdre and Simon McKinley