Saturday 4th August saw the 5th Round of the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship at a sunny Kirkistown. The event also hosted the 10th round of the SBD Motorsports MSA National British Sprint Championship Which meant that it was the yearly visitation of some of the fastest single seaters in the UK speed scene.

Coming into the event Adrian Pollock held a 2 point lead over John Morgan in the Northern Ireland championship and Heather Calder held a 6 point lead in the British Sprint Championship from her father Colin. The great weather on Saturday and a bumper entry of 80 starters, including 15 single seaters in the big single seater class and 15 in the road going production classes, meant that a good days racing was guaranteed.

It was also great to see a large number of spectators at the event who were all impressed by what they saw, and anyone in the vicinity of the speed trap will have witnessed Stewart Robb going through the speed traps at 170MPH in his 5.0 Pilbeam MP88 with Colin Calder taking the trap at 160MPH on his way to topping the time sheets.

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After the timed runs, Colin Calder lead the pack with a run of 104.69 secs from Stewart Robb whose 107.8 sec run put him ahead of Terry Holmes who did a 109.13. First of the locals was with a run of 109.69 was John Morgan in the family Pilbeam MP82 who pipped Adrian Pollock by 0.88 secs. Adrians run of 110.57 was an impressive run to watch and earned him 5th overall in the overall times.

Focusing on the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship, it was business as usual with Adrian Pollock and John Morgan fighting tooth and nail for the win, and with only 2 points between them in the overall championship it was all to play for.

John’s Millington engined Pilbeam MP82 seemed have the legs in the fast parts of the track over Adrians more nimble Dalarra, as johns speed trap results showed him to be 15 mph faster than Adrian, however Adrians more nimble chassis allowed him to make the time up in the corners and under braking.

Johns fastest speed trap was a 147mph on his first run and Adrian had a very nimble 129mph also on his first run. Third in the NI standings went to Gerard O’Connell in his amazing radical. Gerards fastest speed trap was also on his first run where he topped 143mph, his fastest run of the day got him down to a 111.6 sec run, which is only 1.91secs off John Morgans time, and 1.03 off second place man Adrian Pollock. Gerard is determined to keep Adrian and John on their toes!

In the Road-going category Bangor man Chris Rogan took the honours in his Renault Megane from Stephen Donnelly in his Clio and Michael Clarke was third in his Elise. The modified saloons Category was won by Ivan McCullough in his Nissan GTR from Oliver Cormican in his Evo. Alan Cassels was third modified saloon and a staggering 30th overall in his little 1.6 Peugeot 106.

In terms of the classes the action was very hot right across the board and some great class battles developed during the day. In class 1 Killyleagh man Gary McClurg maintained his 100% win record in his Citroen AX taking a comfortable win from Denis Watson in his Saxo and James Schofield in his 1.6 Honda Civic. This was James’s first sprint so well done to him for a third place on his first outing. Gary also set a new class record beating his previous record by 3.27 seconds.

The larger engined roadgoing boys in class 2 spent all day chasing Bangor man Chris Rogan who lead the class all day in his Megane, Chris also managed to beat the existing class record by 4.28 seconds. Stephen Donnelly was second in class from Michael Clarke. The top 3 in this class all finished under the previous class record, and fourth to seventh places inclusive were separated by a mere 1.57 seconds so this shows just how competitive this class is.

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James Perry took his Caterham Superlight to the Class 5 honours in the specialist production class from Derek Millar in his RAM cobra with only 0.57 seconds separating them at the end of the day. Derek had actually lead the class all day only for James Perry to put in a stonker of a last run to seize the win from under Derek’s nose.

A similar situation happened in Class 6a 8 valve Modified production where David Evans took the win in his 205 from Gary Milligan in the Mini and Norman Harvey piloted his Escort to third. Gary had lead the class all day and there was never more than 0.19seconds between the top pair until David pulled a blinder of a last run to take the class win by 1.1seconds from Gary and set a new class record. Both drivers reported having ” hairy moments” during their last runs. This is a complete role reversal from the last round where Gary snatched the class win from David on his last run.

Class 6b for 16v Modified Production cars was won by Portaferrys Brian Fitzmaurice in his Honda Civic, with Colin Dines second and Graham Dines third in the Clio they share. There were 4 Clios out in this 5 car class and these little pocket rockets are proving to be a very popular and successful car to have. Brian also celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday so many happy returns Brian.

Clive Latimer took the honours in Class 7, Modified Specialist Production Cars, in his Sylva Riot, or “the flying snotter” as it has now been christened. Clive also skimmed 1.78 seconds off the class record as well. Graham Boyce was a very close 2nd only 2.27 seconds behind Clive with Tom Devaney third. Sadly Steven Hawthorne had a suspension issue which sidelined him in practice, as Steven would definitely have been in the middle of that class mix. Kevin McNamee pipped Craig Boyce to fourth by a mere 0.14 seconds after a day long battle.

Class 8a was a lonely affair for Lewis Dunlop in his mini, but none the less he took the class win in his beautiful little Mini. Lewis has now finally got to grips with this little car and is improving every time he drives it. Class 8b was also a lonely class for Gary Campbell who took a new class 8b record, and indeed also came under the class 8a record on his way to the class win.

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Class 9 sports libre cars saw some fabulous machinery doing battle on Saturday. Gerard O’Connell took the class win and was 6th overall in his radical SR8, Gerard was also third in the Northern Ireland championship overall results as well. Second place went to Simon Banbridge in his home built SBS Audi. This fabulous car has been a regular contender at this event for many years and each year it has been changed radically to make it even faster. Third went to Eamon Matheson Snr. in his incredible little MM2 which he shared with his son Eamon Jnr. Eamon Jnr. finished 4.9 seconds down on his father in what was his first ever time driving the car, that in itself was no mean feat as the little car is an absolute weapon.

Alan Cassels dominated the up to 1650cc libre rally car class 10 to take the win from local man Thomas Fitzmaurice in his Citroen C2. On his way to the class win Alan also set a new class record 5.29 seconds under the previous record. Alan also finished up as third fastest saloon overall.

Class 11 sports libre rally cars saw Daniel Campbell take another class win beating Norman Armstrong’s Escort by 2.5 seconds class 12 saw Ivan McCullough and Oliver Cormican do battle for the class honours. Ivan took the honours in his incredibly fast Nissan GTR which was now finally able to open its wings on the long fast Kirkistown circuit.

Class 13 racing cars class saw 3 immaculately prepared Mondialle 89s do battle with Henry Campbell in his Reynard Ff89. Henry took the class win from Phillip Harris with Ian Maple taking third. It was great to see Ian Maple and Paul Mongan finally get to the bottom of their continuing misfire and getting to enjoy this beautiful little car.

Class 14 for Racing cars up to 2l 8 valve or 1400 multivalve saw John Donnelly and Trevor Roberts fighting hard all day. Trevor is a well decorated and successful Kart racer and this was his first ever time sitting in the Jedi recently purchased by Trevor McIlroy. John Donnellys experience saw him snatch the class from Trevor by a mere 0.06 seconds with George Stevenson third in his Jedi.

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Class 15 – All other racing cars, is is the class for the big single seaters and it was great to see 15 cars in this class. Overall Colin Calder took the class win from Stuart Robb, who was driving the ex John Leinster Pilbeam MP88. Stuart set a 170mph reading through the speed traps. Terry holmes was third only 0.56 seconds ahead of John Morgan who lead Adrian Pollock home. In terms of the Northern Ireland Championship John Morgan takes top points with Adrian Pollock second and Robert Morgan third. In terms of the championship that result puts john and Adrian joint top of the class championship both with 18 points and both with 2 wins and 2 second places each. In terms of the overall NI championship, by my calculations, this result means that Adrian is still in overall control at the top but now has only a 1 point lead over John Morgan.

I have a really strong suspicion that this years championship will go down to the last run , of the last event of the year.

Class 16a honours for Road going Historic Saloons went to Karl Johnston on the little midas, with Simon Brien second and John Golden third. sadly Gerry McGarrity, failed to complete a timed run after have some mechanical woes. This was a shame as I for one was looking forward to watching Gerry throw the little Mini round the chice on the front straight. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

Tony MCLaughlin took the honours in the non roadgoing Historic saloons class – Class 16b in his lovely mark 1 escort. Tony was another driver who had a lonely, but still enjoyable run none the less to the class win.

The next and 7th round of the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint championship will take place at Kirkistown on 8th September when Larne Motorclub host the round. Larne are well known for running a superb event and they always manage to get a good following of rally men who come out to play.


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.