Cultra clubmen storm up Ulster hillclimb

| 12 Jun 2012

Nearly 2000 visitors attended Northern Ireland's Ulster Folk Museum on Saturday 2 June for the annual running of the Cultra Hillclimb.

The event uses the parkland setting for the 700-yard hillclimb and the historic Cultra Manor as a display area.

The Thoroughbred Sports Car Club NI organised event celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the MGB sports car and the engineering work and legacy of Ulster’s Harry Ferguson and Rex McCandless, through the theme of 4WD.

Both the anniversary and tribute were reflected in the demos, displays and in the entry list for the hillclimb itself.

More than 30 MGBs were shown by the MG Car Club and the MG Owners' Club in NI

With all the displays in place the competitive element of the day got underway early in the morning, with 80 entries covering six classes being treated to a dry sunny course.

The theme of 4WD was excellently demonstrated on the hill through the appearance of a varied support cast of cars with the most important being the 1960 Ferguson P99 F1 car driven by Stuart Rolt, Chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club and son of Tony Rolt, winner of Le Mans and competitor in the Dunrod TT.

In 1961 the car became the only 4WD to win a F1 race, which would also become Stirling Moss’ last win in Europe and the last by a front-engined car.

One of the standout appearances was Denis Biggerstaff’s 1986 MG Metro 6R4, excellently driven by his son. Stuart, the 2010 NI rally champion, won class E for modified saloons, took 5th overall in 34.16 secs and was the fastest rally car.

A new class record was created for a F1 car as the 1960 Ferguson P99 F1 car took part in the last timed run. Gear selection gremlins restricted Rolt to a lowly 40.71 secs, netting 10th in class and 48th overall.

Dungannon’s Seamus Morris, the defending champion, took overall hill honours in his Pilbeam MP62 single-seater with a 31.63 secs run, a couple of tenths outside his 2011 record time.

Second overall was NI Hillclimb Champion Graham Thompson's GTR Turbo, the Antrim man never bettered his first timed run of 32.48 secs. Ballymoney's Rudi Gage rounded off the top 3 in his space-framed Maguire Mini.

As well as the MGBs, attractions off the hill included the last remaining McCandless 4WD
racer and his Mule military prototype, plus a Ferguson Aeroplane replica and 1904 DeDion.

Words: Tony Gregory; pictures: Raceline Photography/Reinis Babrovski