Once again the crowds and cars descended on Ballyvaughan for the 3rd and 4th round of the Connaught Competition Engine Hillclimb and Sprint Championship for two of the most famous hills in Ireland.
Saturday morning saw blue skies over the corkscrew Hillclimb the main point of conversation in the paddock was about who might be able to beat Sylvie Mullins in his Gould GR37. It was clear that Mullins was going to have a fight on his hands with Simon McKinley in the Lant quickest out of the box on run 1 after Mullins made a mistake, with Joe “The Greek” Courtney, a close third in his OMS hornet. Run 2 saw a big upset when Mullins’ gearbox let go, which would see him side lined for the remainder of the day, leaving McKinley as the man to catch.
As the cars lined up for the last blast, times were getting quicker and quicker but Simon McKinley was a clear winner. A brilliant drive on the last run saw Joe Courtney in his OMS hornet finish in second and Paul O’Connell in third in his Pilbeam, just edging out Mullins despite having electrical problems all day. Sylvie Mullins finished in fourth position with his first and only time of the day. In 5th position was Carnew man John C Byrne in his Jedi and Rory “Granddad” Stephens brought his Radical home in 6th place. Despite a troubled day, Dermot Nolan finished in 7th in his Reynard, followed in a close 8th was John Mahon in his DJ, with the championship sponsor Phil Price in 9th who was double driving Dermot Nolan’s Reynard. Derek Daly in his Formula Renault finished in 10th position.
Class winners on Saturday were Ray Cunningham in his lighting quick Mini in Class 1, Declan Cundelan in his MKII Escort took Class 2, Class 3a went to Ian Quinn in his Mini Busa. The winner of Class 3b was Rory Stephens, Class 4 went to Frank Nutall in his Graham 1955, Class 5 went to Wexford man Enda Kennedy, Class 6 was taken by Joe Courtney, Class 7 was handed to Sylvie Mullins, Class 8 was won by John O Sullivan in his Citroen C2, Class 9 was taken by Ger Hodgins in his lovely Opel Manta and Class 10 went to Tommy Flanagan in his MKII Escort.
Sunday morning brought the blue sky out again for the 2.2 mile Ballyallaban Hillclimb. With Mullins back in action thanks to help from Simon McKinley’s vast collection of spares, it promised to be an interesting day.
It was Sylvie Mullins who set quickest time on run 1 from Simon McKinley, with Paul O Connell a distant 3rd. But Mullins’ lead was short lived as Simon got his head down and went quickest on run 2 by nearly 2 seconds from Sylvie with Paul still suffering from his electrical gremlins in 3rd.
On the last run Sylvie could not manage to get the better of Simon. Mullins, who finished second, could just not get the power down on the bumpy road. Paul O Connell bagged third place with his only time of the day. This left him scratching his head on what he had to do to get his Pilbeam running right. Fourth position went to Adrian McCallion in his Suzuki Normandale, 5th went to Rory Stephens and 6th went to John C. Byrne in his Jedi. 7th place went to Denis Hogan Jnr in his pristine BMW M3 which is nice to see him back on the pace after his layoff, 8th went to Ray Cunningham in his Mini, 9th went to Dean Laffey in his Reynard SF 81. But the drive of the day had to go to 10th placed man, Eanna Carroll, who broke a CV joint in his Civic Turbo and was kindly given a run in Hogan’s BMW M3. He went on to make full use of its power, even if Denis had his eyes closed every time he saw his car roar off the start line!
But the bad luck story of the weekend had to go to Dermot Nolan and Phil Price with Dermot breaking 2nd gear in his gearbox on Saturday Phil Price had to go one better by breaking 4th gear in Dermot’s gearbox on Sunday.
Class winners on Sunday: Class 1 was Ray Cunningham in his Mini, Class 2 went to Kieran Curran in his Corsa, Class 3a went to Ian Quinn in his Mini Busa, Class 3b went to Rory Stephens, Class 4 went to Barry Smith in his MK1 Escort, Class 5 went to Enda Kennedy, Class 6 went to Adrian McCallion, Class 7 was Sylvie Mullins again, Class 8 went to John O Sullivan in his C2, Class 9 went to Ger Hodgins before the engine in his Manta cried enough and Class 10 went to Tommy Flanagan.
The next round the Connaught Competition Championship heads to McKinley’s territory where Mullins will be hoping to get back on top and Paul hoping to have left his electric gremlins at home.
Article by: Brendan Harpur P.R.O.
Photos by: Caora Dubha