After the hottest Easter since records began came the most unpleasant weather imaginable in the form of Storm Hannah and it landed right in the middle of the Derek Walker Memorial Classic.
This year the hard yards and planning came from Noel Cochrane (struggling with a broken arm) and Richard McCracken who have been seeking out new test sites on the Ards Peninsula. A completely new event was created and a new start and finish venue too in the form of Echlinville Distillery located in the vicinity of Kirkistown Racing Circuit.
And what a beautiful setting it is too, reminiscent of the old Retro days with grand hotels as our headquarters. The owner and staff of the Distillery, which makes premium brands of liquor such as Feckin whiskey and Jawbox gin, could not have been more accommodating and so our task was made much easier. Thank you Shane Braniff and Peter Rogan for all your help.
Scrutineering took place in wet and freezing conditions and soon everyone was signed on, fed with a bacon bap, and were good to go.
The first test in the Distillery yard was simple and got the event off to a start. It was then off to an old disused airfield for some more forwards only fun tests. Soon however, the nature of the tests changed with some throws at Steele’s Farm and then a more challenging test at Bell’s. There the entire yard was used for one test, the first part being technical and the second part being a good blast around the timber. There were however changing levels of grip that demanded good driving skills.
Back to the farmyards, airfields and farm lanes with a super slippy test at Rowreagh Farm that included a loop inside the shed that had a surface like a bottle.
Back then to the Distillery for lunch and a check of the halfway results. Then another lap of the same varied and challenging surfaces and everyone was glad to have got back without any serious mishaps. The smiles on everyone’s faces told the story. A really fun day’s motorsport. Our former club enthusiast and friend, Derek Walker, would have been splashing through the mud and laughing his head off. He would also have been glad to see the healthy number of Midgets, B’s and Frogeye Sprites taking part.
As the event unfolded, it became clear that history was repeating itself and Will Corry with Pete Moreland-Moore had done it for the 3rd time in a row, in the amazing K Series engined Midget, again borrowed back from generous owner Jordan Fox. Second place went deservedly to a hard-charging David Cochrane accompanied by girlfriend Ruth Steele. Third place was earned by a stellar drive by Christopher Evans, former British Rallycross Champion and expert autotester, in an immaculate Mk1 Escort Twin Cam. All three leading drivers displayed the most impressive car control in the most testing surfaces and conditions.
Congratulations to them and to the class winners who were as follows:
Class 2: Lloyd & Samuel Cochrane (MGB GT)
Class 3: Peter & Nathan Mann
Class 4: David & Robbie Gomes
Class 5: David Cochrane & Ruth Steele (in lieu of overall winner)
Class 6: Ben & Dean Colhoun
Class 7: Christopher Evans & Laney Fitzpatrick
Class 9: Simon & Juanita Brien
Congratulations are due to Robert Dickson who holds the accolade of having competed in all 30 Derek Walker events up to this anniversary. Unfortunately however, he had to retire this year with low oil pressure in the immaculate replica Monte Mini.
Commiserations also go to Richard Earney, Mark Brien and Crawford Ewing who also had unfortunate mechanical problems and were forced to retire.
On the positive side though, Willie Skelly & Kevin McGlynn were able to sufficiently slow down a leak in his radiator to be able to make it to the finish. Well done to them.
The MG Ulster Centre is enormously grateful to all competitors for their support, especially those who came a long distance , one from Tipperary to take part in our event.
However the greatest thanks goes to our superb band of marshals who stood out in the bitter wind and rain to make this terrific day possible.
Here are the results to view and download :