Busy Season Hillclimb Season Opener at Croft.

April 17, 2014 by Tony Gregory  

Last Saturday 12th April 2014 saw the 25th running of Croft Hillclimb Holywood, Co Down, under the stewardship of the Thoroughbred Sports Car Club NI. With the sprinting season already underway this ever popular event gave Ulster’s hillclimbing fraternity their first competition action of the year, playing host to Round 1 of the 2014 ANICC Millers Oils Hillclimb Championship.

Cloudy skies and a damp course greeted the healthy entry of 70, of which four competed back in 1989. The first practice runs got underway on the 875metre course shortly before 10.30am, but after a heavy rain shower it didn’t take long for the red flags to fly as the hill took its first of many victims. Unfortunately Andy Hawthorne’s Vauxhall Lotus impacted against a bank on a lower part of the hill and due to unrepairable suspension damage Hawthorne’s day was over.

Further forays into the hedgerow and banking by Don Shannon, Volvo S40 and Jack Brien, MG Midget respectively, kept the marshals on their toes with only competitors pride and cosmetic damage being the end result.

The sun made a welcome appearance for the afternoons timed runs with the result that competitors times tumbled with their growing confidence. Graham Thompson took FTD 33.82 and class 15 in his GTR Turbo with local honours going to Newtownard’s Robert McGimpsey 34.97, 1st in the keenly fought class 14 and 2nd overall in his RMG Busa. Bangor’s Chris Houston rounded off the top 3 overall 35.28 and 2nd in class 14 in his OMS CF04.

Top TSCC committee member this year was Nad Haghighi in his striking Vauxhall VX220, 42.88 and took 5th in the ultra competitive class 2, with last year’s TCM Tony McLaughlin, 44.07, Madza MX5 just losing out on second to Tony Hamilton 44.02, Porsche 968. Richard McGimpsey won the TSCC Members Handicap in his fathers RMG Busa.

The depleted Sport Libre 2WD class went to the ever committed Neil Dugan 38.65 even though his Peugeot 205’s throttle cable stuck crossing over the finish line, causing him to retire after his first timed run. Don Shannon’s Volvo S40 took 2nd 40.65. A future star of the sport took class 8, the top saloon class, as 18 year old Roger Gage took the Croft Saloon Title away from his father Rudi Gage. Both sharing the family Maguire Mini they both respectively finished 5th and 7th overall with respective times of 36.75 and 37.18.

The biggest and most varied class of the event was class 2 with Adrian Mullholland, 40.75 Ford Escort taking 1st, Jonny Hair, 41.06, BMW M3, 2nd and Wesley McCreary 41.59, striking orange Lotus Exige taking 3rd.

A touch of nostalgia was provided by a healthy vintage class with Michael Taylor‘s MG TA 48.81, 1st, Michael Clarke’s Riley Special 49.03, 2nd and Sheelagh Glover’s Riley Special 55.06, 3rd also winning the UVCC Members Handicap.

After such a successful event TSCC, President William Heaney said, ” After such a successful day and great opener to the 2014 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, especially when being asked to host two motorsport events in the space of less than seven days and the local PSNI for their continued support.”

Class winners were-

Cl’1 Aaron Jenning Citroen Saxo
Cl’2 Adrian Mullholland Ford Escort
Cl’3 Ivan McCullough Nissan GTR
Cl’4 Gardiner Mcllwaine Westfield SE1
Cl’5 Geoff Kidd Tiger
Cl’6a Gary Milligan Mini
Cl’6b Paul Buchanan Nissan Micra
Cl’7 Graham Boyce Dax F20C
Cl’8 Roger Gage Maguire Mini
Cl’9 Neil Dugan Peugeot 205
Cl’11 Thomas Purdy Ford Escort
Cl’12 Mark Lancashire Subaru Impreza
Cl’14 Robert McGimpsey RMG Busa
Cl’15 Graham Thompson GTR Turbo
Cl’16 Gordon Buckley Ford Escort Mk1
Cl’17 Michael Taylor MG TA

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