Cannon Hyundai Knockagh Hill Climb Saturday 17th September 2016

The Ulster Automobile Club held the Cannon Hyundai Knockagh Hill Climb on Saturday the 17th September 2016, just outside Carrickfergus Northern Ireland.

As we spent a significant amount of time going back and forward to the hill in preparation it was only but fitting that we call in to the local Primary School and say hello. We arranged for the Go Motor Sports Regional Development Officer Jonathan McDonald to come with us, and we brought three cars for the children to have a look at, including a Ford Escort Mk1 RS, an MG Midget and a Mitsubishi Evo. The children’s awareness of Motorsports was quite remarkable and of course we invited the children to come along on the day. Many of the children did turn up, along with their parents. 

We ran the Hill Climb on Saturday the 17th September 2016, the first event to be held at this historic hill for fifty years almost exactly, with the last event being in 1966.  It was the ninth and final round of the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs 2016 Millers Oils Hill Climb Championship.  

The weather was superb and the crowds were out in force with we believe some 800-1000 people believed to have been in attendance across the day. The spectators witnessed some outstanding driving skills with just a couple of spills. David Gibson from Killylea suffered front suspension failure and some minor damage to his beautifully prepared Ford Escort RS, and Keith Scott from Garvagh lost his exhaust system after his Peugeot 106 bottomed out at speed. Ever resourceful Keith had the car quickly fixed and back in the fray for the next run. I spoke to Keith later who said, “I just heard the thud but it was soon fixed, this is a fantastic hill. I bought the car especially for here after a break from racing of nearly four years.”

Despite the road being mostly no more than eighteen feet wide, and reduced around the bridge with its ninety degree sweeping left turn, speeds in excess of 100mph were recorded with Newtownards man Richard McGimpsey driving his RMG Turbo winning the day overall.

Richard set the fastest time of just 45.34 seconds, also recording the fastest speed of the day at 117 mph. The racing was extremely close and there was less than three seconds dividing the first six competitors. Experienced driver John Donnelly from Beragh was second overall driving his Reynard SF80, and Brendan Flynn from Milford, in his first season here achieving a third overall, driving an OMS PR. Brendan told me later, “With this being a new hill today for everyone, it worked out in my favour as this is my first season”

Fourth overall and third in class was Bangor man Chris Houston in his OMS CF04. As this was the last event of the year, Chris’s consistent driving throughout the year paid off, with Chris becoming the overall winner of the 2016 ANICC Millers Oils Hill Climb Championship.

We had just the one vintage entry, Simon Thomas from Comber who brought his spectacular Ford TT V8 home first in class, setting a new hill record for that class.

A big thank you to everyone who helped make the day such a great success, especially our sponsors Cannon Hyundai. Some great images below from a selection of our photography friends, Tom Maxwell, Steve Kandi, Declan McPhillips, David McShane thank you.

We all enjoyed the event and the hard work was all worthwhile, hopefully we will have good weather next year!  

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