One Hundredth Splits Titanic Battle

Hot on the heels of the mainland, Northern Irish hillclimbing kicked off last weekend with the traditional curtain-raiser at Croft.

Graham Thompson GTR Turbo

Graham Thompson took a narrow win at Croft (thanks to Reinis Babrovskis)


Our Ulster-based correspondent Tony Gregory was there to see the action first hand, and has very kindly sent us the following report:

Croft Hillclimb Holywood, Co Down again played host to Round 1 of the 2013 ANICC Millers Oils Hillclimb Championship. The Saturday 13th April event was organised by the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club NI and came as a welcome relief to competitors, given the recent weather problems hitting the Province’s motorsport scene.

Andy Johnson Vauxhall Chevette

Andy Johnson with his brilliant DTV Chevette  (thanks to Reinis Babrovskis)


A healthy entry of 67 was received with 59 competitors taking to the line and promisingly the event also saw quite a few new cars and rally competitors experiencing an inexpensive days motorsport. Under cloudy skies and mainly dry conditions the first practice runs got underway at 10.30am.

Dual entries and vintage classes were the first to open their account on the hill and among their ranks was Alan Clarke’s vintage Riley Lynx, finishing 1st in class, 56.73 and Roger Corry in a Lagonda posting 68.39 to take 2nd. With only the odd red flag for mechanical problems the field got through their two practice and first timed run before lunch time. The hill only saw one incident of note involving Philip Carson’s bonnet flying up and cracking the Nissan Micra’s windscreen.

The afternoon action got underway in front of a growing crowd of enthusiastic spectators who witnessed the biggest battle of the event between the big single-seaters of reigning hill climb champion Graham Thompson in his GTR Turbo and 2012 sprint champion Seamus Morris, Pilbeam MP62.

At the end of practice the gap between the pair was 2 hundreds of a second and incredibly at the end of the 3 timed runs it stood at one hundredth of a second with Thompson taking FTD with 33.70, Morris 33.71. Banger’s Chris Houston look local honours in his OMS CF04, 35.46 with Rudi Gage, Maguire Mini 36.75 and Gardiner Mcllwaine, Westfield, 38.14 completing the Top Five Overall.

Chris Houston OMS CF04

Chris Houston in the OMS CF04 (thanks to Reinis Babrovskis)


Highlights from the classes were TSCC committee member Tony McLaughin, 44.86 who took an easy Class 1 win in his road-going Mazda MX5 against the dual entered Honda CRX of Peter Walker, 44.47 and Aaron Jenning.

The completive Sport Libre 2WD Rally class went to William Morgan’s Ford Escort, 38.79 even withstanding a visit to the scenery failing his last timed run. The ever committed Neil Dugan provided a spectacular show in his Peugeot 205 to take 2nd in class, 39.38 with Andy Johnson’s Vauxhall Chevette taking 3rd in 40.48.

Even though the 875 metre course stayed dry until the last 2 runners, the outright course record was never in any danger due to the low temperatures. That said the Class 6a record was broken by Simon Jamison’s Peugeot 205 GTE, 40.46 and the Class 6b record was broken by both Steven Gault, Citroen Saxo, 39.14 and Jason Curran in a Renault Clio, 41.46

Jason Curran Renault Clio

Jason Curran in his Clio (thanks to Reinis Babrovskis)


After such a successful event TSCC, President William Heaney said, ” After such a successful day and great opener to the 2013 ANICC Miller Oils Hillclimb Championship. A big thanks must go to the competitors for their support, 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 Road and the local PSNI, especially after the exceptional bad weather we have encountered recently.”

Thanks so much, as ever, for this report Tony. It is great for those of us stuck on the mainland to be able to keep in touch with the comings and goings over the water!

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