Dungiven’s Gerard O’Connell won the Cultra Hillclimb feature “Escort Shoot-Out” last Saturday at the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club event in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra. In this 40th Anniversary year of the introduction of the iconic Ford Escort Mk2 the club organised this extra one-run finale to the Ards & North Down Borough Council supported, now annual competition.
Due to have contested this years’ Cultra, four-time Irish Hillclimb Champion Simon McKinley was tragically killed competing in his single-seater racing car in April. As a fitting tribute, the TSCC decided that The Shoot-Out winner should receive a trophy “In Memory of Simon McKinley”. Having already won his Class by 7/10ths of a second, earlier in the day with a time of 37.07secs, O’Connell was pushed much harder by Newtownards-man Thomas Purdy (35.19secs) in the Shoot-Out, but remained unbeaten by just 7/100ths with a time of 35.12secs.
The main competition had attracted a capacity entry of 110 drivers, reflecting the anniversary of its first running in 1905, making it the Oldest Active Hillclimb in the World, at present. Cultra 2015 crowned a new champion as Bangor’s Chris Houston (OMS) posted the only sub-32sec time of the day, his 31.93secs over-coming all day leader Jaye Nevin’s (Lotus Reynard) 32.05sec best, on the last run of the day. Young Richard McGimpsey (RMG Busa) from Newtownards held of Chris’s brother Russell (sharing the same car) for the final podium place.
A year after a nasty cycling accident that sidelined since, Ballymoney’s Rudi Gage returned to Cultra to finish fourth overall and take back his Saloon title in a new Outright Saloon Record time of 33.01sesc, with his Maguire Mini. Graham Boyce (DAX F20C) was next up and reclaimed the Cultra Sports Car title with a new Outright Sports Car Record of 33.70secs.
OTHER AWARD WINNERS
Vintage Handicap – John Galloway – Austin 7 – 62.93sesc
Vintage Class – Michael Taylor – MG TA – 43.31secs
Historic Sports Cars – Will Corry – Healey Sebring – 37.17secs
Historic Saloons – Philip McDowell – Escort Mk1 – 38.31secs
Class 2 Saloons – Jo Clarke – Honda Civic – 40.75secs
Class 3 Sports Cars – Mervyn Johnston – Porsche 911 – 37.39secs
Class 3 Saloons – Michael Adams – Golf GTi – 39.49secs
Class 4 Modified Sports Cars – Gordon Fogarty – Fiat X1/9 – 37.70secs
Class 4 Modified Saloons – Jonathan McAleer – Corsa – 39.43secs
Class 5 Modified Sports Cars – Robert Davidson – MEV Rocket – 35.81secs
Class 5 Modified Saloons – O’Connell
Class 6 Sports Cars – Boyce
Class 6 Saloons – Gage
Class 7 Racing Cars – C.Houston
Click Here for the full results.
Photos by Tom Maxwell