The 2023 SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship was celebrated at Edenmore Golf & Country Club in Magheralin on Saturday 20th January 2024.

Around 120 guests filled the room, and these comprised of award winners, their family, and friends, as well as members of the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs. The meal was well received, and presentations were made between courses.

The awards started with the ladies, as follows:

The Heaslip Ladies Challenge Trophy was introduced around three years ago, and sponsor, Jimmy Heaslip was called upon to present the awards.

Taking her maiden win was Amy Hawthorne, who has challenged for the ladies’ sprint trophy since she passed her driving test, which was around the time this award was launched.

Second overall went to Emma Campbell, whilst novice to the sport, Jenny Pollock had a fantastic year by finishing in third. Jenny was also awarded the Newcomers Award later in the night, such was her progression during the season.

In the classes:

CLASS 1              2WD Roadgoing cars up to 1700cc

2nd        Paul Forsythe
1st         Alan Wallace

CLASS 2A           2WD Roadgoing cars over 1700cc

2nd        Ian Thompson
1st         Crawford Ewing Jnr

CLASS 2B           Mazda MX5 Challenge

3rd         Wayne Clyde
2nd        Barry McCann
1st         Craig Ewing

CLASS 3              4WD Roadgoing Series Production cars

2nd        Paul Grady
1st         Tony Grady

CLASS 5              All other Roadgoing Specialist Production cars

1st         Gardiner McIlwaine

CLASS 6A           2WD Modified Series Production cars 2V per cylinder

2nd        Gary Milligan
1st         Karl Johnston

CLASS 6B           2WD Modified Series Production cars 16V

3rd         Dessie Martin
2nd        Ken Colbert
1st         James Lightbody

CLASS 7              2WD Modified Specialist Production

2nd        Andy Hawthorne
1st         David Hawthorne

CLASS 8              2WD Sports Libre Special Saloons Inc Spaceframe Chassis

1st         Richard O’Mahoney

CLASS 9A           2WD Sports Libre Saloon and Sports GT cars

3rd         Garry Campbell
2nd        Daniel Campbell
1st         Emma Campbell

CLASS 10           2WD Sports Libre Rally Cars up to 1650cc

2nd        Alan Roddy
1st         Raymond Johnston

CLASS 11           2WD Sports Libre Rally Cars over 1650 cc

2nd        Derek Robinson
1st         Ian Getty

CLASS 12           All other 4WD Sports Libre Cars

2nd        Ryan Murray
1st         Adrian Kelt

CLASS 13           FF1600 and Formula VW

3rd         Adrian Pollock
2nd        Stephen Wishart
1st         Henry Campbell

CLASS 14           Racing cars up to 2000cc

3rd         Ryan McGimpsey
2nd        Scott McMullan
1st         Ethan Faulkner

CLASS 15           All other Racing cars

3rd         Robert McGimpsey
2nd        Gerard O’Connell
1st         Alan Cassells

CLASS 16A        Historic Roadgoing Saloons and Sportscars

3rd         Ian Paget
2nd        Mervyn Getty
1st         Gerry McGarrity

CLASS 16B        All other Historic Saloons and Sportscars

1st         Stephen Harvey

In the hotly contested categories:

David Hawthorne won the Specialist Category from Andy Hawthorne. Crawford Ewing Jnr was crowned Roadgoing Saloon Champion, from Gerry McGarrity. Finally, receiving the Burrows Memorial Trophy was Modified Saloon Champion, Daniel Campbell who took the win from Raymond Johnston.

Overall honours:

Lifting the K D Kars Trophy for winning the championship was Alan Cassells, with Gerard O’Connell finishing just two points behind in second. Rounding off the podium was Lisburn driver, Ethan Faulkner who, despite being a relative newbie, held off Scott McMullan in a great season-long battle to claim his heist overall finish to date.

“I am delighted to have won the 2023 championship in my newly acquired Force single seater, which has been totally overhauled with a new engine package. It is being further developed for 2024, which will be another exciting year for the sport and I look forward to defending the championship.” Stated winner, Alan Cassells.

Having sponsored this series for thirty years, Bill Adair of SW Adair Tyres paid tribute to the clubs, officials and the army of volunteers required for the events to run, in order to have a championship. Congratulating the winners, he thanked each and every competitor as well as his many customers.

Secretary of the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs, Grace King stated, “2023 was another tremendous year for motorsport in Northern Ireland. Our speed championships continued to produce some exceptional driving, with many of our talented competitors reaching personal goals and some fantastic new talent joining both disciplines.

“At the heart of each event here in NI are an outstanding number of volunteers performing various different roles to ensure our events run safely and seamlessly, to extremely high standards. These volunteers are the backbone of our sport, and we are eternally grateful for all their hard-work and dedication.”

Continuing, “On behalf of ANICC, can I congratulate all who have received awards in both the Motorsport Supplies Northern Ireland Hill Climb Championship and the S.W. Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship. I wish everyone a safe and successful year’s motorsport in 2024, and look forward to seeing our clubs, events and championships continue to go from strength to strength.”

Chairman of the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs, Wilson Carson said, “As we celebrate the success of our 2023 Motorsport Supplies Northern Ireland Hill Climb Championship and the S.W. Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship award winners, we take time to reflect on a highly successful season for both championships.

“Event entries continue to remain steady, even in these difficult economic times, and we continue to see new talent coming through in both championships. I would like to commend all those who put so much effort into making our championships so successful and the clubs who put so much time and effort into planning and running the events.

“Our championship would fail to be viable without the generous support of our sponsors, Motorsport Supplies and S.W. Adair Tyres, and we look forward to working with them again in the new season. We are now looking forward to the 2024 season, where it is hoped that the standard of events and competition will continue to rise here in Northern Ireland.”

In closing, “Best of luck to all competing in the 2024 championships, and we at ANICC hope they have a safe and enjoyable season.”

The 2024 Sprint Calendar:

  • 02nd March – NUCC, Nutts Corner
  • 16th March – 500 MRCI, Kirkistown
  • 06th April – NUCC, Nutts Corner
  • 01st June – Enniskillen MC, St Angelo
  • 03rd August – 500 MRCI, Kirkistown
  • 04th August – 500 MRCI, Kirkistown
  • 14th September – Larne MC, Kirkistown
  • 28th September 2023 – NUCC, Nutts Corner
  • 05th October – UAC, Kirkistown
  • 26th October – 500 MRCI, Kirkistown

Graham is a photojournalist and motoring writer with over 20 varied years of coverage from manufacturer press launches to international motorsport and motoring events throughout the world. Graham is a full member of the Guild of Motoring Writers and Ulster Motor Writers Association.