Last Sunday saw the final round of the County Cavan Motor club organised Mervyn Wedlock Plant Hire Autocross Championship for the 2012 season.
With the Christmas festivities in full swing it was an impressive turn out of competitors and machines to the Hutt Cross venue. The overall championship had been decided on the last round in favour of Mickey Conlon so the pressure was off most competitors to try and gain points and left it free for everyone competing to just go for the overall glory on the day.
With a sizeable promotion campaign being launched in the weeks preceding the event it was to prove a success with no less than 72 competitors taking to the start on what was a fresh but bright morning.
The campaign had attracted a number of new and returning drivers including some leading names in Irish Motorsport today with recent young rally driver of the year award winner Daniel Mc Kenna returning to where he first started to compete.
With the drivers lining up to start their first run the conditions on the track were starting to dry but were still well able to punish a lapse in concentration, It was Castletara’s Joe Smith who struck first setting a great time on the first run to be 2 seconds quicker than anyone else in his Pinto engine Escort. Joe a Hutt Cross regular was demonstrating his love of treacherous conditions in his bid to take top honours and try and close out his class championship battle with Oliver Mc Cormack. Big power was not the order of the day as proved by Darren O’Brien and Andrew Mc Mahon who slotted into 2nd and 3rd place in their Honda Civic and Peugeot 106 respectively.
As the 2nd run commenced there was a light shower which didn’t really help matters as it wasn’t heavy enough to wash the track but just added to the greasy nature of the surface. This only confirmed that the possibility of a very high powered car was really going to struggle in the battle against the more nimble motors.
This was also reflected in the times with a lot of people going slower in their second run with the exception of a few like Mc Mahon and Mc Kenna with Mc Kenna taking 8 seconds out of his first run time after adjusting his suspension.
It was still the same at the top with Joe Smith leading from O’Brien and Mc Mahon with Oldcastle’s Gary Mc Namee starting to make an impression on the leaders in his Honda Civic.
On the final run it was down to Mountain Lodge’s Darren O’Brien to see what impression he could make on Smiths lead, And try he did going a full 2 seconds faster than anyone on the final run. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the 2 fastest times of the day were counted and Joe had done enough to secure a 2 second win in the end with Darren O’Brien taking 2nd place and Andrew Mc Mahon taking a credible 3rd overall with Mc Namee 4th, Thomas Melia 5th and Damien O’Reilly taking 6th place in his 1400cc Escort.
In the classes it was tight battles all day with tenths of seconds deciding the results in some places.
In Class 1 It was a two horse race between class champion Alan Pickens and Overall Champion Mickey Conlon who had brought out his Mini to compete in lieu of the Escort with Pickens leading before Conlon broke a drive shaft on the final run.
Class 2 saw some very competitive action as has been the case all year. With the usual competitors there were a few returning faces to the mix including Vincent Mc Aree in his 106. In the end however it was Maudabawn’s Damien O’Reilly taking the honours with a great drive to pull out a comfortable lead over the championship competitors Shane Marron and Seamus Cooke with Gary Kiernan taking 4th in class.
Class 3 was the sideshow to the overall competition with the top 5 bar Joe Smith in the class this finished the same as the overall with Darren O’Brien taking the class win from Andrew Mc Mahon with Gary Mc Namee 3rd.
Class 4 saw Joe Smith take the win from title contender Oliver Mc Cormack in his Nova with Martin Toner in his Talbot Sunbeam 3rd and Martin Swinburn, Toners navigator taking 4th in the class.
Class 5 produced the closest finish of the day with Championship sponsor Mervyn Wedlock battling it out with Daniel Mc Kenna both in Ford Escorts. These two put in a great performance taking tenths of seconds out of each other but in the end it was Mc Kenna who came out on top winning the class by just 6 tenths of a second. Not wanting to be left out Jim Mc Kenna also driving an escort came home in 3rd only 2 tenths of a second behind Wedlock. The class brought a lot of competitors back to the venue who had been away for a while and it brought with it some very close racing with Maurice Moffett, Ronnie Coulter and Mel Mulligan all being separated by less than a second at the end in the battle for 4th,5th,and 6th in class.
Class 6 brought us a battle between a Subaru Impreza and a Motorcycle engine buggy with the rain and a 5% penalty against the buggy which would be fit to win the event overall on a dry day playing into the hands of the Subaru of Padraig Mullen who won out against Derek Deane not before he gave a virtuoso performance in the buggy which proves to be a fan favourite for their action and soundtrack.
In the Juniors is was back to the usual flat out competition with the championship to be decided on the day between Brian Brady and Gareth Mimnagh it was up to each of them to go as fast as they dared and hope the other man made a mistake. In the end it was the Civic of Gary Mc Namee who had an impressive run to the top 5 overall who took the junior win with Gary Kiernan 2nd and Brian Brady finishing ahead of Mimnagh in the end.
As the rain started to get heavier the drivers gathered for the prize giving all agreed that it was a great day all round and an enjoyable day for the spectators.