Sunday 9th June turned out to be a grand day at Kirkistown for the Trackskills track day. A great selection of cars were there and the weather was kind.
Unfortunately, a number of red flag incidents slowed up the first part of the day. Most were for cars stopped in dangerous positions but two were for fairly large accidents. Gavin Kilkey had an uncharacteristic off at Debtor’s Dip, in his Evo. It is unconfirmed but at the moment we believe that something broke, causing the car to turn sharp left and into the barriers. Thankfully, Gavin was shaken but not stirred by his experience. He will be back on circuit, racing his BMW, on the 22nd June.
The other car to have a largish shunt was Peter Baxter’s Civic. Once again, nobody was hurt, as the car rearranged the tyres at the Crosslé Chicane.
One could have been forgiven for thinking that it was a Renault Clio and Mazda MX5 meeting, as these were the predominant cars in attendance. In terms of “bang for buck”, both marques have established themselves as market leaders for those wanting to build a dedicated track day toy. It boils down to a preference for front or rear wheel drive.
Good friends, Stephen McKnight and Ian Warnock put on some exciting displays in their Clios, as the day progressed, while John Hinds and Alan Hulme went very quickly in their Mazda MX5s.
It was good to see the extended Lynch family back in their MX5. The poor wee car hardly gets a rest at all!
Moving on to more exotic machinery, for simple understated beauty with power, the award has to go to Gareth Cranston’s red Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Set-up genius, Mike Johnston, was in attendance for a while to assist Barney Casement with his Tigra. Barney has bought this 2018 Roadsports Championship winning car from Mike.
Keeping Barney company was Niall Fitzsimmons, having his first runs in his newly acquired Radical Club Sport machine. Niall and Eric Fulton, in a Locost, had some great lappery together, until a water hose melted against a hot exhaust on the Radical.
Lucky Escape Of The Day has to go to Jimmy McShae in his beautifully prepared Mk2 Escort. While coming down the back straight, he became aware of an unwelcome noise from the engine. Luckily, he came in at the back of the club house and as he drove up the paddock, a pulley made its escape from the engine bay. When the car was stopped and the bonnet raised, the timing belt was seen to be hanging on by an eighth of an inch! Had he driven down to Maguire’s Hairpin before coming in at the pit lane, he would probably have destroyed a very expensive engine!
Pete Storey made his first track day appearance in his Fiesta Mk 7. He has started doing the hills and sprints this season but this was his first foray onto an open track. He went cautiously but steadily built up speed as the day went on.
Gareth Blaine made a welcome return in his V8 BMW. He seemed to be going well. It would be nice to see this car racing. Similar words could be said for Darren Gilmore and his Honda Integra, which was going well.
Owen Drought made the trip from Tipperary to sort out his VW Golf, prior to the Irish Touring Cars visit to the track on the 22nd. By the end of the day he was really flying.
Two of our regular Civics pounded in the miles all day. John Lyttle and Raymond Grimes shared one. They used to campaign Toyota MR2s but have found the Civic much more reliable. Jonathan Christie was driving the other one. Unfortunately, towards the end of the day, the exhaust broke and it became too loud to drive but Jonathan had done enough laps to get dizzy anyway. Had it happened earlier, like Alan Hulme had to do, Jonathan could have taken the car across the Bog Road to East Engineering for a quick repair by David Cousins. However, by the time it did happen, David was actually on track in his own MX5!
Arnold Gibson made a return in his BMW and was going as quickly as ever while Damien Moran was driving the wheels off his V5 Golf. He was lamenting the absence of Jim and Rob Kennedy who have made the jump to racing in the MX5 series.
Thanks are due to all of the marshals, who had plenty to do at this event. Thanks also to Philip Brooks and his ambulance crew who were there but not needed, thankfully.
The next Trackskills event is on Sunday 7th July. Book at www.trackskills.com.