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On Saturday 6th May, Larne Motor club hosted round 3of the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship at Kirkistown. As usual Larne run a fabulous event for us, but todays just seemed to be extra good. Paddy Haveron stepped up to the clerk’s role and he ran a super tight ship and all the hard work by the rest of Larne Motor Clubs members was abundantly apparent as the day went like clockwork.

For once the weather was superb and for most of the day you could even say it was warm which has been unusual for this season and indeed with such good weather everyone was in superb form making the entire atmosphere around the paddock one of the best we have seen in many years – and that’s saying something.

From the offset Gerard O`Connell was the man to beat in his World Series Dallara which is an unreal sound as it leaves the line at maximum revs, whilst trying to stay ahead of Tim Woodside, Tony Greenan and the rest of the competitors. Indeed, Gerard was unbeaten all day and his second run was only a mere 2 tenths of a second faster than his first timed run which shows just how hard he was pushing. Graham Baalham- Curry has a superb photo of Gerard in the back chicane full of the rack with a superb slide as he eeks the maximum speed and grip out of his slicks. Tony Greenan was also on a charge and fought hard in his Mercedes Powered F317 Dallara. Tony can more regularly be seen in the Boss Ireland championship where he has had huge success of late and watching his smooth and committed style through the chicanes showed just how quick he is. Indeed, all our drivers should watch Tonys commitment and cornering style. He is the ultimate example of fast and smooth entry and super-fast exit. We could all learn from him and indeed some of us need to lol.  Tony finished second a mere 0.38secs behind Gerard after a superbly close battle all day. Third, 1.87 secs behind Tony Greenan and 2.25secs behind winner Gerard O`Connell went to Alan Cassells who debuted his new Force HRC in the championship.

Scott McMullan definitely wins the driver of the day award after pulling a blinder of a last run in his little Jedi Mk4 which he debuted today. Young Scott is well known in the championship for his giant killing performances in the family Westfield before he upgraded to a reis Aero in which he dominated class 7 last year before stepping up to a class 14 Jedi for this season. This car is no stranger to the paddock as it is the ex-Tom Devaney car. Scott purchased this car after Tom sadly passed away and has decided to run in Toms livery and using Toms race number as a tribute to Tom who is still sadly missed around the paddock. Scott paid the ultimate tribute to Tom by taking 4th overall and a class win on his debut with the car and Tom is sure to have been super proud of this result today as is Scott’s father David who was over the moon to see Scott pull off such a superb run. Indeed, Scott was second in class going into his last run but pulled out a massive 1.71 secs out of his last run to overtake Brian Fitzmaurice to take his maiden class 14 win. I predict that this will not be his last class win of the year and I can’t wait to see Scott, Ethan, George, Ryan and Brian all head-to-head at an event. Not even I could predict a winner there!

Another superb drive on Saturday which cannot go un-mentioned was that of Richie O`Mahoney Senior (and Jnr was going well too). Richie Snr has now finally got to grips with his beautiful SHP RSR Escort and after some tyre tips from his friend and mentor for this season Jim Hutchinson Richie was flying. Indeed, he was going so well that one cheeky sod opened the door to ensure that it really was Richie driving as he thought it was a stand in stig!! Its great to see someone finally feeling comfortable in their car and Richie certainly is now. Richie was delighted to finish top of class 8 and 16th overall as it means he now has a 15-point buffer built up before Jim Hutchinson returns and these 2 guys go head-to-head.

Mentioning Richie Snr above I cannot fail to mention Richie Jnr who debuted his newly engine Escort Mk2 this season. Jnr was also flying and was superb to watch as he tried harder and harder to make it through each chicane backwards without losing it. This was superb to watch, and Richie was smiling so hard at the end of the day that he burst open his helmet as it wasn’t big enough to contain his smile! I wouldn’t fancy his tyre bill for the day though. Its safe to say that both the O`Mahoney boys had a belter of a day and Richie snr was delighted to beat Richie Jnr overall!!

We also had the pleasure of 2 Speed cars running as well in class 9b. David Kane was back out in his Speed car Silver Car and Chris Nelson debuted his new Speed car GTR. These insanely fast bike engine cars were in class 9b along with Ryan McGimpsey who split the 2 overall and Aaron Beattie in his brand new Speedcar Wonder. Its great to see class 9b being so well supported this year and the Speed cars are awesome to watch and could well win an event outright before season end!!

Other new competitors included Paul Dalton from Dublin who debuted his Reynard Formula Vauxhall Lotus in class 15 Chris Nelson who debuted his Speedcar, Aaron Beattie who also debuted a new speedcar buggy, Jonathan Smith who debuted his beautiful green Escort Mk2 but with a Honda engine for 2023, Formula ford superstar and star of the future Brandon McCaughan who was competing in a Mazda MX5 and David McReynolds who was in a beautiful Escort. Returning after some time away was Kathy McDade, the flying Doc – David Hunter, Gary Milligan Michael Boyle, Chris Byers, Tim Woodside, Tony Greenan, James Graham and Roger Gordon

I’m afraid to say it but we finally had a glimpse of a regeneration of class 11 with 4 cars entered Michael Boyle took the class honours ahead of Richie O`Mahoney Jnr, Ian Getty and Derek Robinson. Its great to see 4 cars of this superb quality all fighting so closely together and with 4 distinctly different driving styles as well!!

In terms of the categories the unofficial title of fastest mini in the west went once again to Karl Johnston who pipped Gary Milligan and Gerry McGarrity in that order. It was great to see Gary Milligan back out again and Gerry was delighted to have him out to chase after. Gerry did however tell me that he was going to let Gary win the first one so that he thought he was good, then Gerry would blow him into the weeds at the rest of the events. We will see if this is correct through time!!

The modified category was closely fought, and Dan Campbell took not only family honours but Modified honours after pipping his father Gerry by a mere 1.53 secs in their Toyota Starlets. Both these guys were flying on their way to finishing 11th and 12th overall. Third modified man home was the returning David Hunter in his Subaru. David has been missing from the paddock for quite a while but its good to see the Doc returning!! Points for the third placed modified car went to Richie O`Mahoney who finished behind Michael Boyle in the overall time sheets but neither Michael or the doc are championship registered.

In the specialist category Andy Hawthorne took a superb category win as well as 13th overall in his Westfield. With neither Scott McMullan or his sons David and Steven both missing from the category today Andy had an easier run to the top spot than usual, but he was probably more focused than ever before and was impressive to watch on the brakes. Richie O`Mahoney senior took second n the category and 16th overall in his SHP RSR Escort with Dale Singleton third in his little Rallycross KA. Dale advised that the long straights were just a bit too long for his gearing and that he would need another 2 gears for his next run on the long circuit.

The Roadgoing category was once again dominated by Crawford Ewing Jnr who is proving to be the man to beat this season. Crawford flew to 25th overall in his roadgoing Meganne and finished ahead of second Placed Stephen Donnelly who continues to impress in his little Renault Twingo and Ian Thompson in his Porsche Boxter.

In the Heaslip Ladies Challenge Trophy Amy Hawthorne was the only points scorer today after mechanical gremlins affected both Kathy McDade as she debuted her new lightweight modified Seat Leon and Emma Campbell who had oil-based issues in her Peugeot 106. Apparently, Emma`s bad luck was the fault of Championship Co-Ordinator David Evans who removed Emma’s Lucky charm (a window cleaning brush) from inside the car when she was sitting in the assembly area. Needless to say, Emma was seen chasing David round the paddock, and it was commented that David has never moved as quickly in his life.

A new prize for this event and events going forward is the Race and Rally spot prize. This new prize is a 50 second Fire safety Stick which was provided by Race and Rally of Lisburn as part of a newly launched collaboration between the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship and Race and Rally. The prize was drawn randomly By Jason Frazer who is a championship Competitor and employee of Race and Rally Jason drew James Acheson as the spot prize winner. Congratulations James and thanks again to Race and Rally for the superb prize.

The next and fourth round of the 2023 SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship takes place at St Angelo Airfield on 03 June and is hosted by Enniskillen Motor club. This ever-popular event is one of the fastest of the season and Enniskillen are trying a new event format and a new course set up which should make this event even more popular! Entries can be found on www.rallyscore.net 

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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.