This year’s Autocross championship saw a bit of a shakeup in the Hutcross track. A new sponsor was welcomed in to the events in the form of Mickey Conlon’s MC Blinds company who would take up the reigns from Mervyn Wedlock Plant Hire who had been a great supporter over the years with many years of service and support and for that the club thanks him.
With the new sponsor saw a new points scoring system for this year, based on the model that proved to be so successful in the border championship over the past number of years. This would see the competitors gaining points in their classes which would be directly transferred to the overall championship standings (i.e. if a class one car won all their rounds they would have maximum points and be unbeatable in the overall honours)
This year also saw the discontinuation of the 5% penalty for the all popular buggies which are a huge hit with the fans. This new ruling means that although the buggies are not allowed to win the event outright on any given day they are still racing against each other so their points tally at the yearend could mean an overall championship victory for one of the buggy drivers.
For the second year in a row we are delighted to have S.W. Adair tyres on board as the sponsor for the juniors again this year. At each event all the junior competitor’s names are put into a hat and two names are drawn out, one wins a tyre from S.W. Adair and the other wins a free entry to the next day’s event. Coupled with the technical nature of the track and lots of friendly advice on hand it is a great learning place for any up and coming talent.
Even with all the changes there is one thing that stays the same, Joe Smith from Castletara has picked up where he left off by taking maximum points on the first 3 rounds this year. A win on the first two rounds on the day and a 3rd overall but with his class win intact on the 3rd day means that at the minute Joe is in the best possible place to defend his title for another year. Two other men join Joe on the top of the leader board this year, Seamus Cooke and Alan Pickens. Cooke has had a hard fought start to the season in gruelling battles with his brother Noel in the 1400 escort which has to work hard each day to stay in front of the highly competitive Class 2 field. Alan Pickens has basically taken up where he has left off too by dominating Class 1 with some awesome displays of giant killing in his little Nova, a car which is not just fast but ultimately reliable each and every day it competes.
Behind the top trio are the usual suspects in regards to the top of the class point’s tables. Shane Marron has been battling away in class 3 in his escort this year and is within touching distance of the top of the championship standings. With 3 rounds left and class rival Gary Mc Cabe switching classes in round 3 it could leave the door open for Shane to attack the overall championship. Chris Snow Junior is another man who has been making big moves in the Hutcross track in the past in his trusty Civic. Even after a lengthy lay off he could still put on a show and finish ahead of Smith in 2nd place overall on round 3 behind eventual winner Mervyn Wedlock.
Further down but still only 5 points off the top is a trio of competitors mixed through the classes but all equally capable of making a strike for the top should things go their way. Noel Cooke will continue to battle with Seamus for the rest of the year for not only a shot at the overall championship but Class 2 as well. Ronan Greene is putting in the good times in class one but with the Pickens dominance at the minute he will have to hope for a slip up by Alan at some stage to try and gain some ground on the Tullyvin man. Barry Mc Ardle is keeping Snow honest in class 4 in his rally cross spec Peugeot 205. The “Dozer” Mc Ardle has been a long-time supporter of the track and has always been in the mix for the overall results in the past and will hope to add a few more wins this year.
In the Ladies competition it’s Collette Rooney who is the sole competitor in the section for the minute. This won’t take away from the fact that she is really holding her own in the overall competition as she is 2nd in class behind Joe Smith and is 10th overall in the main championship. Collette also won the junior championship outright last year to prove that she is no pushover against the lads.
Class 6 sees the battle of the local hotshots with Paddy Boyle taking first blood back in January with a haul of maximum points in his 2 litre escort. An engine gone for a rebuild forced him to sit out round two but he was back for round 3 where himself and Mervyn Wedlock had a fierce battle for the class honours with the decision going Wedlock’s way on his first appearance to the championship this year.
In the Buggies it was Championship sponsor Mickey Conlon who had the advantage before the last day out when a missed round left him a little off the pace to the drivers who did that event. With dropped scores to count at the end of the year it is only a minor glitch so the MC Blinds man will be back on a full attack for the next round to overhaul the rest of them and get back out in front. 3 consistent rounds from James Cassidy and Ronan Mackal see the pair in front of Conlon in the championship points. The racing is so close between the buggies that even the slightest slip will plummet a competitor down the points table and on the day they do lend themselves to a great spectacle and a symphony of sounds. With 13 Buggies taking to the start so far this year in one round or another and more on the way they seem to be here to stay.
The Juniors have been having their own battles this year so far as well with 3 different winners from the 3 rounds so far and with the top 3 being separated by just one point it will be a very exciting autumn season before all is said and done. Brian Brady has the lead at the minute in his Peugeot 106 after he took the initiative on the first round by taking the win. Stephen Reynolds in his Swift holds second place just one point behind after a consistent haul of points from the first 3 rounds. In third is Ronan Greene who is also 2nd in class 1 and is hoping for a good run up the end of season in November.
This year’s championship is cut to 6 rounds from the usual 7 the final round of the year will be a standalone shootout as the prize giving will be coupled with the clubs 50th year celebrations in the Hotel Kilmore on November the 29th.