On the build up to the Ballyvaughan Hillclimb weekend there were a lot of discussions whether or not both car and driver were going to be able to reach the top of the time sheet. The pressure was on with entries from many former Hillclimb Champions with much more powerful cars in the form of Joe Courtney, Sylvie Mullins, Frank Byrnes and Paul O’Connell.
The fine tuning began for the weekend which was shaping up to be a cracker of an event. On Friday evening as the car was rolled out for the first time at a hillclimb, it is fair to say it attracted a lot of attention from both young and old, with many questions, photos in social media and scratching of heads trying to understand the developments in suspension and drivetrain which the OMS brought.
Morning broke over Ballyvaughan and the Corkscrew Hill which hosted round 1 of the Naylor Engineering Hillclimb & Sprint Championship was taking shape for the race. A demanding section of road with some very technical hairpins, along with a fast sweeping S bend which would push a driver’s bravery and skills to the limits.
After Run 1 Galway man and reigning champion Joe Courtney had thrown down the gauntlet in his well proven and championship winning 2 litre Reynard 913 with Dwane closely behind an 2nd on his first time on a road with the car. Quickly adapting to the demands of this hill Dwane responded with a time which saw him take the lead. The battle was on!
Robert Dwane OMS 25: photo Dermot Kelliher
The 3rd and final run of the day took place to see the Clare man set an even faster time. Joe Courtney responded with a time 0.71 seconds behind. He had done it. On his first Hillclimb with the car Robert had secured his first win in the OMS and shattered the record for the youngest driver to take a victory at the age of 20. A monumental moment in the young driver’s career, winning his first hillclimb event on home soil, which was evident from the celebrations on the return run and elation in the paddock.
Robert Dwane receiving his winners trophy: photo Dermot Kelliher
On Sunday, the Ballinalacken Hill posed a different challenge for the drivers with a much faster section of road; full of sweeping bends, hairpins, chicanes along with bumps and dips to test a car’s handling capabilities.
The battle commenced once again with Courtney setting a blistering time in Run 1. Dwane responded in Run 2 with a promising run leaving just 0.46 seconds between the pair. On the final run of the weekend Courtney, under pressure, used his power and experience of the hill to his advantage to take the win after an impressive and committed run from Dwane taking the runner-up spot.
With both Courtney and Dwane tied first Overall in the Championship it is sure to be a very close and exciting year for the Irish Hillclimb Championship. The next round is Wexford on 20th & 21st May.
Robert would like to thank former Irish Hillclimb Champion Pat Roche and OMS constructor Steve Owen for their assistance with building and setting up the car.
Date: 25/04/2017 | Author: G. Dwane/ L. Owen