Anyone who had doubts over whether the N.I. Rally-Racing Championship could survive the move from its original venue in Nuttscorner to its newly adopted home in Aghadowey can safely lay their fears to rest.
"A conservative estimate would be that our first day at Aghadowey has just doubled our best ever day at Nuttscorner" said series promoter Wayne Owens. "The track lay-out with its mixture of long, flat out straight, fast sweeper, tight chicanes and hairpin make it very challenging and totally addictive for drivers. The faster you go, the faster you want to go. But the best thing about the day was the atmosphere. Personally I cant wait til the next one. Great craic."
Every aspect of the day proved to be as successful as was hoped. In particular the Track Day entries, which actually exceeded expectations. This part of the day enables people to get a taste of racing, without the commitment to actually building a racing car. The entry had everything including such impressive machines as a BMW M3, Subaru Impreza, Lotus Carlton, Manta 400, Twin Cam Corolla and numerous fast Hondas. Something for everyone and very appealing for spectators.
The main part of the day ofcourse was the race program. Every class had a bumper entry and right from the first heat of the little 1200cc Class the spectators were hooked. For many this was their first SWRC event and some were heard to say "Where else in Ireland can you see racing as good as this?" and I would have to agree. The race program has been opened up to include cars from various disciplines and on the day there was a National Hot Rod, Stock Rod and an Auto Grass car. With interest from these areas growing all the time, expect to see more of them out there in future. It certainly does make the whole thing very exciting, seeing very different types of racing cars going wheel to wheel at high speed and at such close quarters.
The classes in the SWRC race program are 1200cc, Sports Hatch, GT, GTR and Open Class. These cover everything from small hatchbacks to unlimited racing machines with a budget to suit everyone’s pocket. There were 9 different winners on the day, testament to just how competitive this series really is.
Heat winners were: Anthony Owens and Davy Duncan (1200s), Wayne Owens (Sports Hatch), James Mullan (GT), Keith McClelland and Denver Watt (GTR), Lindsay Ferry (Open)
Final winners: Gary Thompson (1200), Peter Nicholson (Sports Hatch), James Mullan (GT), Caldwell Winter (GTR), Lindsay Ferry (Open).
The drag strip competition held at the end of the day was a great novelty at a circuit-racing event. Spectators can even enter their own car at this stage. All is required is a helmet and driving licence. Whilst obviously still in its very early stages this has already shown signs of great potential.
Surprise of the day was a Metro, yes a Metro! After disposing of a Colt Gti in the first round, driver Ryan Friel in his 1.8 16valve, pocket-rocket almost embarrassed a very quick Cosworth powered Capri in his next run. Winners on the day were the Cossie Capri of Colum McMullan in the 2wd category and the EVO 7 of Kenny Wylie in the 4wd class.
As entry numbers increase the format of this competition will develop. These events are set to be THE big thing this year and providing a full day’s entertainment, it certainly is a cheap family day out.
Its gonna be a hot summer in Aghadowey!
By Wayne Owens