The Clare Motor Club hosted rounds 5 & 6 of the National Hillclimb and Sprint Championship in the hills of Feakle Co. Clare. The new venue attracted competitors from both near and far to sample some of the long straights and fast elongated corners that the East Clare venue had to offer. Miltown man, Michael Hamilton swapped the driving seat for a the Clerk of Course roll this weekend with the help from his team from Clare Motor Club.
Saturday morning broke over the sunny hills of Feakle as a day of speed and sport commenced.
It was Tulla man, Robert Dwane in his OMS 25 opened the weekends time sheets on Run 1 with a time of 53.69 secs over the 2km course, setting fastest time of the day in the process. The Dublin based pair of Billy White and Gary Egan, sharing a Formula Renualt, battled it out through the day to claim best of the rest, with Gary Egan taking 2nd Overall with a time of 58.39 as Billy White followed him by a mere 7 hundredths of a second. Brian Kirwin, Peugeot 205, local rally driver, Michael Fitzgibbon, Honda Civic and Dara Fay, Suzuki Swift swapped positions throughout the day with each of them on top of the saloon pile at some stage. In the end it was the Wexford ace of Kirwin claiming top saloon honors and an impressive 5th Overall. Event sponsor, Pa Malone of Darragh, Co. Clare was the next Clare Motor Club memeber to finish 2nd in class 9, followed by Martin O’Halloran 1.1 seconds behind. Declan O Regan and Brian Hassett, shared a Peugeot 205 for the day which came to a sudden end with the car sidelined after crashing out in run 2. Keith Naughton finished his day in the potent Peugeot 106 7th in class 1A.
Sunday saw a whole different day of racing as the weather was not as kind, predictable or consistent as Saturday. Drivers had to pick and choose running times wisely between the heavy showers to give them the best possible chance of a dry run. The top 3 however was no different with Dwane setting the pace early in the wet with a time of 51.15 seconds, with Egan behind on 54.84 and White at 56.80. Michael Fitzgibbon shined through the rain as he usually does on the home hillclimb with a time of 60.57 taking top saloon and 4th Overall while Kirwin had to play second fiddle with a time of 62.01 followed by Fay, 62.31. Other Clare Competitors on the day included Niall and John O’Sullivan battling hard in their Citroen C2 with Niall winning class 8 and John finishing in a respectable 5th in class. Keith Naughton swapped his Peugeot for a Subaru Impreza which paid off after some hard work taking him to 13th Overall and winning class 13. Pa Malone took the Escort home to 2nd in class 9 while Robert Behan powered his Mini to 8th in class. Tulla local Francis Kelly drove his Honda Civic to 3rd in class 9. Cratloes Tomas Ryan took 4th in class 4 with his Honda Civic.
With Robert extending his lead now to 6 wins from 6 events all prospects of retaining his champion title are looking positive. As rounds 7 & 8 of the championship move to what the hillclimbers call Monte-“Carlow” on July 6/7 it is sure all the big names and cars will be out to commence battle once again.
At the Laois Heartlands Rally Anthony and Jill Breen finished 56th overall and second in class 15 which was a good test before the Donegal International Rally.