Croft Opens NI Hillclimb Championship

The weekend just gone saw the opening round of the 2012 Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs Hillclimb Championship.

Further to his series preview last week, our man on the spot Tony Gregory has sent us a great report on what seems to have been a highly competitive event.

Colin McCann Croft Hillclimb

Colin McCann's gorgeous Mark 2 featured amongst a varied entry (thanks to Reinis Babrovskisr)


Last Saturday 14th April Croft Hillclimb, Hollywood, Co Down played host to round one of the 2012 ANICC Millers Oils Hill Climb Championship. The popular Thoroughbred and Sports Car Club NI organised event attracted a healthy entry of 58 competitors, vindicating ANICC’s decision to move the opening round of the championship to Croft and the TSCC take on the new date.

Tom Lawther Rover SD1 Croft Hillclimb

Just like Tony Pond.... Tom Lawther in his Rover SD1 (thanks to Reinis Babrovskisr)


With the hillclimb course bathed in sunny blue skies the first practice runs got underway at a prompt 10.35. Dual and vintage classes were the first to open their account on the hill, amongst their ranks was Alan Clarke’s vintage 1925 Lancia Lambda, the oldest entered car on the day but to Alan’s credit he wasn’t the slowest overall and finished 2nd in class.

On a day that saw only one incident of note on the hill and very few mechanical issues amongst the competitors it was then unfortunate to see long-time motorsport enthusiast John Galloway have the only non run of the day. A problem with his 1929 Austin Ulster’s fuel pump prevented it leaving the line and with no quick fix spelt the end of John’s day. As John had driven the Austin the short distance from his East Belfast home, he was then in a quandary as to how he was going to return it home, as the car was too narrow to fit on a conventional trailer. As luck would have it TSCC committee member John Gardner was on hand with his work vehicle and the paddock was treated to the unusual sight of John’s car being lifted into the back of a delivery van!

With no glitches or hold-ups the field got through their two practice and first timed run before lunch time and as the afternoon action got underway a growing crowd of enthusiastic spectators gathered. Great battles then ensued especially in the rally class with Neil Dugan providing spectacular action in his Peugeot 205 RWD with class honours eventually going to Jay Colville in his Mk2 Escort. TSCC committee member Tony McLaughin also had an all-day battle in Class 1 after going toe to toe with Comber’s Graham Curry, who was contesting his first ever hillclimb, in their respective road-going Mazda MX5’s.

Even with the 875 metre course bathed in sunshine all afternoon the cold wind meant the course record was never in any danger as the field completed a further 2 timed runs with last years overall winner Seamus Morris duly topping the time sheets and class 15 again in his single seater Pilbeam with a time of 33.12 seconds. Graham Thompson in his single seater GTR Turbo was 2nd overall and in class 15 in a time of 33.45 with top local Richard McGimpsey from Newtownards taking 3rd overall and 1 st in class 14 sharing the RMG Busa with his father Robert, in a time of 35.38. Larne’s Gardiner McIlwaine was the top sports car with a 39.61 final run in his Westfield SEi, finishing 12th Overall and was the last runner under the “magic” 40sec barrier. Reigning NI Saloon Champion Rudi Gage, from Ballymoney, continued his winning ways bringing the Maguire Mini home a couple of seconds ahead of Colville to take saloon car honours, in sixth place.

Seamus Morris Pilbeam MP62/82 Croft Hillclimb

Seamus Morris in his ex. Mason/Day/Goodyear/Bleasdale/Le Gallais MP62 (thanks to Reinis Babrovskisr)


After the event TSCC, President William Heaney said:- ” After such a successful day and great opener to the 2012 ANICC Miller Oils Hillclimb Championship, a big thanks to the competitors for their support of the new date and the Marshals and Club members for all their hard work in delivering such a slick event. The Club is especially grateful to the residents of Ballymenoch and Creightons Green Roads, and the local PSNI, for their continued tolerance, hospitality and support whilst Croft was forced to move around the calendar this past couple of years. Croft will now continue on the middle weekend of April as the annual NI hillclimb season opener, although will avoid Easter weekend when it falls there”.

Thank you so much for this report Tony, it’s great to hear whats going on away from the mainland.


  1. john galloway says:

    Thanks tony and john g never fear the orange terror will return

  2. Good report my first time in years not to be there
    Was on holiday sounds like I was the loser

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