Last Saturday the 16th April, Croft Hillclimb, Holywood, Co Down played host to Round 1 of the 2016 Millers Oils ANICC Hillclimb Championship, with Ulster’s hillclimbing fraternity producing a wide ranging entry of 69 cars of which 64 completed the course and posted a time.
This popular Thoroughbred Sports Car Club NI run event was again rewarded with fine weather and a local winner in the form of Bangor’s Christopher Houston, who also convincingly took his OMS CF04 to its maiden Championship counting win.
As the first practice runs which got underway at around 10.30am, the public road course witnessed action straight away with various competitors suffering mechanical woes and trips into the scenery and even the finishing line’s timing equipment didn’t escape an excursion.
Practice two was just as busy with first time competitor Eldoras Eglerius clipping a bank in his Ford Focus, Gary Milligan’s mini suffered with a loose bonnet and Gordon Fogarty’s Fiat X19 rolled to a halt after his throttle cable came loose, but after a quick fix went on to a class win later in the day. Newtownard’s Robert McGimpsey survived a heart stopping tank-slipper at the top of the hill in his newly acquired VW Bettle and the Harvey’s Escort was hampered by a loose exhaust pipe.
Continued good weather and growing crowds of spectators greeted the afternoon’s timed runs, but unfortunately it also brought the longest hold-up of the day. From class 14 Brendan Flynn’s OMS PR00 suffered a catastrophic engine failure and dropped a large quantity of oil on the start-line.
After the oil was dressed the Croft hillclimb featured some great battles throughout the field, the Gage’s in their respective Maguire Mini’s particularly stood out, with son just piping father. Also the dual entry of Ian and Mark Lancashire provided plenty of spectacular and crowd pleasing moments, in their highly modified Subaru Impreza,
This year’s Top 3 TSCC committee members were Tony McLaughlin’s who also took his Ford Escort to 2nd in class 16a, 43.63. Bangor’s William Heaney clocked 44.94 and took his Ford Puma to a class1 win and local farmer Wallace McKee’s MX5 clocked 45.11 in a very crowded class 2.
As in previous years the province’s Ford Escort brigade provided lots of fast sideways action and it was Adrian Mullholland’s RS example that took the class 2 win, setting a very competitive time of 40.20. Mervyn Johnson’s 911 and the fastest Porsche took 2nd, 40.90 with another Escort taking 3rd in the hands of David Gibson, 40.92, missing second by two hundreds of a second. A fitting result for the best supported and most varied class of the event.
Even though class 14, was hugely depleted throughout the day, its single-seater exponents still provided the top 2 times overall. Christopher Houston’s times improved on every run so it was no surprise that he set FTD on his fourth run clocking 34.50. George Stevenson used his Jedi MK6 to great effect in keeping Houston honest and set the 2nd overall time of 35.65 and 2nd class 14 and It was class 15 competitor Newtownard’s Richard McGimpsey who rounded off the top 3 overall, clocking 35.98 in his RMG.
A touch of nostalgia was provided by the four strong UVCC vintage class with Magherafelt’s John Keatly taking the class win in his splendidly prepared Invicta 55.21, with Holywood resident’s Dermot Johnson, Samson 2nd 56.76 and Sheelagh Glover’s Riley Special 57.96 3rd
After such a successful Croft Hillclimb event TSCC, President William Heaney said, ” After such a successful day and great opener to the 2016 ANICC Miller Oils Hillclimb Championship, a big thanks must go to the competitors for their support, the marshals and club members for all their hard work in delivering an event that still managed to offer competitors a fourth timed run, despite various delays. The Club is especially grateful to the residents of Ballymenoch and Creightons Green Road and the local PSNI for their continued support.”
FTD- Christopher Houston OMS CF04 34.50
The Croft Hillclimb Class winners
Class-1 William Heaney Ford Puma 44.94
Class-2 Adrian Mullholland Ford Escort RS 40.20
Class-3 Conor Hamill Toyota Celica GT4 43.40
Class-4 Gardiner McIIwaine Westfield SEI 39.94
Class-5 Robert Davison MEV 39.09
Class-6a Gordon Fogarty Fiat X19 40.14
Class-6b Steven Gault Citroen Saxo 39.06
Class-8 Roger Gage Maguire Mini 36.46
Class-9 Gary McWilliams Toyota Starlet 41.55
Class-10 Alan Roddy Citroen Saxo 40.77
Class-11 Conor Lavery BMW M3 39.07
Class-12 Ian Lancashire Subaru Impreza 38.07
Class-14 Chris Houston OMS CF04 34.50
Class-15 Richard McGimpsey RMG 35.98
Class-16a Gordon Buckley Ford Escort 42.64
Class-16b Robert McGimpsey VW Bettle 46.33
UVCC Class-17 John Keatley Invicta 56.37
Photos by Gary Craig and Stuart Woods