Top Three in Wexford (L-R): Simon McKinley (2), Sylvie Mullins (1), Paul O Connell (3) Photo: Patrick Doyle

Once again Hillclimb competitors from all over the country gathered in Wexford at a new venue in Ballyhouge for the 1st and 2nd rounds of the Connaught Competition Engines Hillclimb and Sprint Championship.

Saturday morning in Ballyhogue brought a dry, cold start when competitors were taking cars off their trailers, some for the first time wondering whether they would start or even move! With John Mahon only fitting new drive shafts the night before the hill that would test the top speed of all the machines in attendance.

The talk of the paddock was who would come out on top, with the returning Paul O Connell in his Pilbeam or Sylvie Mullins in his Gould Gr37, both ready to push reigning champion Simon McKinley all the way. The hard charging John Byrne was also ready to put the bigger machinery to shame.

Indeed, as the practice run ended and cars were queuing for Run 1, the talk around the paddock had turned to a new topic; how many plug leads could be pulled off Mullins car before he would notice!

Brendan Harpur in his Delta hit trouble early when he was left with 3 wheels on his wagon and a badly slipping clutch, but John Byrne was on hand quickly to sort the problem.

With Sylvie leading after Run 1, he went even quicker on Run 2 with Simon McKinley hitting gearbox trouble and Paul having electric trouble and John Byrne breaking a drive shaft.

On the 4th and final run of the day and Paul’s Pilbeam already in the trailer, John Byrne and Joe Courtney put manners on the big machinery with John finishing 3rd and Joe 4th shoving Paul to 5th, but no one could catch Sylvie with Simon finishing 2nd.

With class battles strong throughout the field on Saturday, Sunday was gearing up to be a great event. Sunday morning had a change to an old favourite hill in Barntown that had a spilt paddock with single seaters at the bottoms and salons at the top.

Paul O Connell hit trouble early when his car would not fire up but the hero of the weekend John Byrne swooped in to fix the wiring problem. At this stage, John’s free pint count is raising fast.

As the start dew near Simon McKinley was trying to sort out how he was going to beat Sylvie and with Paul trying to figure out where he was losing so much time.

Sylvie set the pace on Run 1 from Simon and then Paul. When the times came in John Byrne was roaming around the paddock with a snips looking to cut the wires he fixed in the morning to slow Paul down.

Run 2 saw troubles when, Killian Connole went off and was taken to hospital for precautionary a check-up. After the restart, Rory “Granddad” Stephens, the oldest swinger in town broke down bringing the red flag out again.
By the end of Run 2, it was Simon McKinley who was ahead by a nose from Sylvie.

On the last run of the weekend everyone wondered if Simon could do it, but it wasn’t to be and Sylvie pulled it back to take the win.

Again the class battles were fierce. The Hillclimb & Sprint circus moves to Ballyvaughan in 2 weeks to see if Mullins can be stopped on his local hills.

Article by: Brendan Harpur P.R.O.