Saturday 06th August saw the 6th round of the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship take place at Kirkistown Circuit. Our 6th round also tied in with rounds 15,16,17 & 18 Of the SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship which ran as usual at the August round of our Championship. 

As always, its great to welcome our fellow sprinters from the British Championship who always bring some exotic cars to Kirkistown as well as plenty of craic over the course of the weekend. Indeed, speaking to some of the drivers on the Saturday they all love coming here to sprint because of the fast nature ok Kirkistown as well as the fun nature and atmosphere around our paddock. One person even told me that they would be here more frequently if it was not so expensive to cross the big puddle that lies between us and the mainland. Perhaps Boris`s bridge would have benefited us? 

Right from the offset Rob Dwane proved once again to be the man to beat on the day and showed that prov anyone who wanted to catch him had a massive bridge to cross as he took off like a rat up a drainpipe and set what would be his fastest run of the day with a 107.04 sec run. Robs win now moves him 6 points ahead of second placed Tim Woodside who is now 19 points ahead of third placed Jim Hutchinson. Terry Holmes pushed hard all day and took second place and maximum British points with a 110.29 sec run in his 3.5l Lota Tegra Judd. Third went to Pete Goulding in his more modern 1.6 Turbo charged Eco boost engine Mygale. Fourth overall and second in the local championship went to the hard charging Tim Woodside in his 2.7 Pilbeam. Tim once again was the man to watch as he went fast, very fast indeed whilst still having superb fun in the car by driving it like he had stolen it!! Fair play Tim your mad lol!! 

Third in our championship and an amazing 10 overall went to Ryan McGimpsey in his 1.3 Jedi!!! Yes, you read that right a 1.3 Jedi. Ryan was going so well that everyone was glued to his times to see how far up the entry list he could get compared to the bigger cars. Indeed, I had the privilege of seeing a preview of a series of superb photos of Ryan at the Hairpin where Ryan literally was on 2 wheels, and I mean his inside 2 wheels off the ground as he rounded the hairpin. No one can say he wasn’t trying!!

Other outstanding drives of the day include Ethan Falkner who took second in class 14 a mere 0.2 secs ahead of the hard charging Brian Fitzmaurice who almost had a full days racing at last. Ethan pipped Brian in his last run, but it could’ve been different only for a lot of misfortune which poor Brian suffered on his last run. Brian was set off behind a far slower car which he dutifully caught at the chicane. The timing records for that run show that he was over 1 second up on his fastest run when he caught the car infront. Brian got a re-run which he went for and was even quicker again, however as he entered the front chicane the car Infront had touched the marker cone, sending a slither of it onto the track. Brian was too close to that car to get him safely stopped or the offending bit of debris moved and he touched it in no more, sending it up past his gear selector rod which it touched and loosened meaning poor Brian couldn’t change gears. When will this fellas luck ever change? He was definitely showing potential in this new car and when he gets some more seat time he will definitely be a serious contender in the top 5. Watch this space and mark my words!!

Class 9b had a bit of a resurgence when John Stewart the local racer came to play in his 1.3 Radical as did Ricky McGimpsey who debuted his new 1.3RGM alongside Sheryl McBride. John Stewart proved to be the person to beat, but when Ricky perfects his RGM he’s going to be another top 5 overall contender. How long before it gets the “turbo Sam” treatment?

We also have to mention the rare fact that there were no Strains at this event. This is the first event in recent history which has been Strain free. The reason for this is that Johnny finally, at the third attempt due to covid, got to marry his new wife Laura. A massive congratulations is due to both Johnny and Laura and on behalf of everyone involved in the SW Adair Northern Ireland Sprint Championship I must wish you all our congratulations as well as a long and happy future together. Rumour has it that Laura’s going to show Johnny how to drive her new blue 205 next year season. It will look familiar to us all. 

We must also give a quick shout out to local Motorsport legend Ken Colbert who had an unfortunate day. Ken did however, remain there all day and was seen out and about round the paddock offering advice help and support to the fellow drivers as well as myself. I hope your feeling better now Ken and see you on 24 September!! I did speak to Ken a couple of times over the days after the event and he wished to report and pass on his sincerest thanks to all the medical crew, marshals and fellow competitors who assisted him and looked after him on the day. Ken was also very very complimentary of the HANS device which he was wearing and he said that in his opinion that they should be mandatory for everyone, due to how effective it was for him. Now there’s a valuable piece of advice from a very experienced legend of the sport who should be listened to!! So if your in one of the road going classes which doesn’t require the use of a HANS device, pay some attention to an experienced expert and wear one. It’s true what they say, it may save your life!!!!

During the course of the day I had a chat with Mazda man Paul Magill about his little MX5. Paul told me that he uses the car for sprints, Hillclimbs, auto tests, Targa Rallies as well as for the occasional nip down the road etc. This just shows how versatile these little cars are and why they are so popular in motorsport circles. We also discussed running the car and Paul advised that his car is completely standard although he has added harnesses and a seat for safety and over the last couple of years the only maintenance, he has had to do to the car is to keep it regularly serviced, with regular oil and filter changes and just a good check over after each event. Now I’m sure your asking why I mention this?? Well, the reason is to show just how economically possible it is to compete in our championship on a clubman’s budget with a car that can be competitive whilst still being used on the road as a daily, or occasional commute. Paul does admittedly use the car for auto tests and targa rallies too but this only further confirms that entry level motorsport like this is still achievable for clubmen!!

In terms of the Categories, we will start with the Road going category which once again proved the old TV advert to be very very wrong. Once again, the car In front was a BMW, not a Toyota. Conor Hamill again took the class win on the day but Crawford Ewing Jr Pushed him hard in the Megane and was only a mere 1.16 secs behind Conor. Third went to Aaron Vance in his new BMW and he was only 0.89 secs behind Crawford. Crawford Ewing was actually leading the Roadgoing category after the second run but Conor managed to find some more time in his third run. Perhaps it took until the third run for Conor to fully digest his large fry which he had for Breakfast. If he had only had a soda he would`ve been quicker all day lol. (That’s me getting a slap in the lug the next time Conor sees me). Conor now has a 6 point lead at the top of the category from Crawford Ewing with Andrew Robb third. Crawford and Conor are dead equal on the number of rounds completed so it’s a straight fight between these 2 fellas for the title. Don’t rule Crawford out!

Modified Category championship honours on the day went to Ryan Murray after he finally got his Subaru going to its full potential after so much heartache of late. Ryan is one of the quiet men in the paddock but by glory does he like to push the Subaru on. Ryan finished 20th overall and when you remove the 9 British Championship contenders above him that equates to 11th overall in our Championship event. That’s some going! Second in the modified chase went to Garry Campbell who finally seemed to make it all click and was flying. Garry finished an amazing 24th overall with a 129 sec run. Whilst Garry was delighted with this result he was even more delighted to have beaten his son Dan Campbell who finished 27th overall and fourth in the modified category in his Starlet with a 131.48 sec run. Shane Bell was the meat in the Campbell sandwich in his Subaru and he finished 3rd on the road but as he isn’t championship registered Dan Inherited points for third. I have to be careful how I word this as I don’t want to offend any of the Campbells, but Garry was flying, and I mean flying however Dan was having gearbox issues so whether these results reflect future performance is a delicate question which only the Campbells can answer, but I can confirm that I’ve never seen Garry smiling as much as he was at prize giving!! It may have been a long run home in that lorry on Saturday night lol. In terms of the category championship Stephen Colbert has a 1-point lead over Daniel Campbell who is only 1 point ahead of Third placed Oliver Cormican, who leads fourth placed Ken Colbert, again by 1 point. Its safe and fair to say that the Modified Category is very very close at the top and I personally don’t fancy predicting a winner here!

In the specialist Category Jim Hutchinson ponce again took the category win in his RSR Escort with a 124.06 sec run however Andy Hawthorne pushed him hard to set a 126.57 sec run in his Westfield. Andy actually beat Jim’s second and third timed run times however Jim was having fuelling issues but that’s no excuse on either persons behalf. Third went to Scott McMullan who finished 1.05 secs behind Andy Hawthorne but more importantly for him a mere 0.31 secs ahead of David Hawthorne. In terms of the category Championship Jim Hutchinson is 6 points ahead of Scott McMullan , with Steven Hawthorne third 4 points behind Scott and 1 point ahead of David Hawthorne. This is going to be an interesting run in for the second placed spot! From a personal perspective I d like to thank Jim Hutchinson publicly for something which he did for Joanne and I which meant a lot. Thanks again Jim!!

In the Heaslip Ladies Challenge Sheryl McBride blasted to a challenge win for the second time this season. Sheryl had an amazing drive, no doubt assisted by the new plugs fitted by a fellow competitor for her during the day. Sheryl was flying and finished up 34th overall which is a superb result for her. On corrected time she won the category by 4.28 secs from Emma Campbell who was also going very well. Third on the day went to Kathy McDade in her Honda Civic which just doesn’t have the oomph Kathy is looking for. Perhaps she needs a bit more fairy dust in her tank? Amy Hawthorne took fourth but her overall performance has been masked by the fact that she has a new car and therefore her performance indicator factor has been reset to 0. She has 1 more round to achieve her third score and I predict that she will jump back into contention again when she has a performance factor to reflect her performance. Amy does however have the bragging rights of being the fastest female Hawthorne after she eclipsed her mum Nicky Hawthorne by 2.48secs in the road and 7.45 secs corrected. Again, Nicky’s time was affected by this being her first event in the new Clio so with a few more events under her belt Nicky will be a bit more competitive on corrected times. Challenge trophy wise Emma is still in charge at the top with a 7 point lead from Kathy McDade who has a slender 1 point lead over Sheryl McBride. Dropped scores will come into effect shortly and Sheryl has already dropped 1 round so far so this may well change the outlook of the championship. I look forward to seeing how this challenge trophy pans out this year as each and every one of the girls has been steadily improving and it is getting to the nitty gritty bit of the season now! 

In the most hotly contested Category Karl Johnston took the title of fastest mini in the west once again, however Gary Milligan pushed him hard, but simply wasn’t fast enough to catch Karl. However Gary did pip Gerry McGarrity who finished third, and to Gary, beating wee Gerry is like winning the lottery!! I can guarantee that there was some banter between those 2 fellas after that result, and of course Id never stir the pot lol. 

Our next event will be the seventh round of the SW Adair Tyres Northern Ireland Sprint Championship at Nutts corner circuit on 24 September. This round is hosted by North Ulster Car Club. The NUCC always put on a good event at Nutts Corner and with this being the seventh round, any rounds after it will start to affect people’s championship standings as dropped scores come into the equation. See you all then 



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.