Having raced various karts and cars over the years, and also having tried autotesting and mudplugging on occasion, I was informed by the ASK Racing team management over a pint that I was making my hillclimb debut in 2010! It was not so much as suggestion, more an order so I decided not to protest too much. Perhaps luckily, my usual steed, the Davrian Imp Saloon was in the workshops for an engine rebuild by the time my event of choice (and I use that phrase loosely), the MEC hill in The Naul, came around. I was therefore informed that I would be driving the team Porsche 924S for the weekend. To be honest it was a car I had never taken much notice of, mainly used when other cars gave trouble or for newcomers to get licence signatures. I won’t deny the fact that I may have told one or two people I was doing a hillclimb in a Porsche in the week preceding the event, just for the giggle factor! I got to the event bright and early and met the team, everyone seemed relaxed and the scrutineers were coming round to check the cars. We grabbed a cup of coffee and the banter began. I was told that we would have an acclimatisation run and then between three and five timed runs. Mark Kelly, who has been going extremely well in his debut season at the wheel of his ASK run Modsport MG Midget, was also making his hill debut so we tried to gather as much information as possible. We also press ganged our team mate Matt Dunne to run us up and down the hill a few times in his people carrier taxi. Unfortunately, Vinnie VX O’Reilly also hitched a ride so in true ASK form, we spent more time slagging each other and shouting out the windows at the poor souls walking the hill that we were no wiser about the layout of the course when we returned to the paddock!
Soon it was time for the first, untimed run, so we threw on the suits and boots and jumped into our cars. Willie had moved the seat a little for me so the seating position was fine, the car sounded great but I had no idea what to expect from the car or the course as I approached the line. Karl Cleary called me forward to the line when my time came, waited a few seconds and then, carefully studying his watch, nodded at me. Now this nod is apparently a signal for seasoned hillclimbers to go whenever you are ready but of course nobody had mentioned any sort of body language to yours truly so I sat there happily until eventually Karl said “off you go!”. I revved the Porsche to about 3,000rpm and dropped the clutch. The back wheels spun and the car rocketed away. It was a lot quicker than I expected as I headed towards the first corner, a kink left. As I dabbed the brakes and turned in the car felt quite good, if a lot heavier than my Imp. This kink was followed by a 90 right with a tree straight ahead. I braked, turned the nose of the 924 in towards and buried the throttle. The resultant slide and armful of opposite lock made me feel like a hero, I was beginning to think I would be handy enough at this hillclimbing lark. I was swiftly disabused of this notion as the car headed up the next incline. Up to 7,000prm in second, then grab third and the speed really began to increase and the Porsche began to move around. I gave a big lift for the ensuing kinks then braked for a slight left into a junction. Round the kink and I braked hard and heel-and-toe’d down to second ready to turn left at the junction……except it went right!! It was at that moment began to think I should have paid more attention when we were doing our reccie in the taxi earlier! I gathered it all up and got to the final junction, which was again second gear and relatively easy. Over the finish line and down to the end of the road to turn, then park up with the rest to wait for the run back to the paddock. When I got back to the paddock I met a grinning Mark Kelly and we just looked at each other and laughed! Try as I might, I still was still unable to picture the course in my head even though we were discussing it in the truck for quite a while before the first timed run. I made a better fist of the second run and was reasonably happy but knew I was still loosing time through the quick stuff! As the day progressed, most of the competitors improved their times by significant chunks but I could only scrape a few tenths on each run and fell down the result sheets. I think I ended up somewhere about 30th of the 60 odd competitors by the time the event came to a close.
A huge part of the hillclimb scene, though, is the social aspect and I was much better at this than I was at the sport itself! At the end of each run, the competitors tend to get out and chat before coming back to the paddock when the run is complete. I met quite a few fellow drivers here and had a great laugh chatting with them. I met most of them again at the awards dinner in Naul village later that night which went on into the early hours…..
1-2-3 for ASK Racing in Wales
1-2-3 for ASK Racing!
ASK Racing continued their recent vein of good form when the Irish racing classes visited the Ty Croes circuit on Anglesey in Wales last weekend. Two of the team’s 40 foot transporters made the trip carrying cars competing in a variety of classes. Testing began on Friday and all cars ran well. On Friday night, the team’s awning was transformed into a night club, with DJ, disco lights etc and most of the drivers in the paddock enjoyed the infamous ASK hospitality. It was back to business on Saturday though as the cars took to the track. ASK Racing ran the following drivers:
- Philip Jones: Porsche Cup
- Pat O’Sullivan: Porsche Cup
- Megan Kessie: Ginetta Junior
- Vinnie O’Reilly: Modsport Midget
- Matt Dunne: Modsport Midget
- Mark Kelly: Modsport Midget
- Martin O’Sullivan: Modsport Midget
- Leo Nulty: Davrian Imp Saloon
- Dermot Nolan Reynard F3-Vauxhall
The Porsches, due to the lack of numbers, ran with the Historics but in race one, Philip Jones was first Porsche home, after a titanic battle with Jackie Cochrane’s Sunbeam Tiger, Jones sealing it with a spectacular dive down the inside at Rocket Corner on the final tour!. With Nulty’s Imp a non starter, Matt Dunne took a comfortable class win from the impressive Mark Kelly in their Modsport MG Midgets
Matt Dunne was late to paddock assembly in the second Historic race and had to start from the pitlane, but charged up through the grid to shadow O’Reilly across the line, the duo finishing 1-2 in the class.
Megan Kessie had a productive weekend in her Ginetta Junior, learning a new track and finishing every race, earning herself some valuable signatures in her quest to upgrade to a National race licence.
In the saloon allcomers race on the Sunday evening, O’Reilly took the chequered flag after a great battle for his first ever outright win with Matt Dunne in second and Alan Kessie, next up in Megan’s Ginetta to complete the team’s first ever 1-2-3 result! To add to the celebrations, Dermot Nolan also had his maiden win in the single-seater allcomers invitation race, his F3 Reynard crossing the line well ahead of the opposition.
So, another successful weekend for ASK Racing with the team’s next outing being Mondello Park on July 18th.
ASK Racing, no doubt boosted by their recent successful trip to France, enjoyed an excellent weekend’s racing at Mondello Park on June 13th. Team boss Alan Kessie, driving his usual Gryphon C73, qualified second for the Historic Race, just six tenths clear of series pacesetter Jackie Cochrane in his Sunbeam Tiger. Matt Dunne had qualified first in class and sixth overall in his ASK Modsport Midget with team-mate, the impressive newcomer Mark Kelly, right beside him in only his second race. The team’s third Modsport Midget, driven by Vinnie “VX” O’Reilly was further back in tenth but Vinnie was confident he could challenge the others in the race. Leo Nulty’s ASK Imp had been sidelined after a testing accident on the previous day but the team managed to fix it in time for him to join the back of the grid.
When the lights changed, the yellow Gryphon surged away to take the lead despite a huge power deficit to the Tiger. Despite a mid race safety car intervention and a heavy shower towards the end, Alan held on to cross the line just over a second ahead of the Tiger for a popular victory. In their wake, the Modsports cars had engaged in a hectic battle throughout, joined by the Mini of John Cardoo. Matt Dunne had led the class early on, shadowed by Mark Kelly, with O’Reilly and Nulty soon charging up to join the battle. At the line, it was Nulty leading the class from Dunne with O’Reilly making it an all ASK Racing class podium, Kelly having spun off on the greasy track mid race. Novices Megan Kessie and Martin O’Sullivan also managed to finish the race despite the tricky conditions and each earned another licence signature in their bid to gain a National race distance.
Pic Title: Alan Kessie’s Gryphon leads Jackie Cochrane’s Sunbeam Tiger at Mondello
Another “Bon Voyage” for ASK Racing!!
ASK Racing’s busy schedule continues this week as the team head to France to compete in two hillclimbs inside a week with a variety of cars and drivers. ASK made their initial trip last year and it was so successful that they have been invited back this year. “We received fantastic treatment from the French last year”, said team boss Alan Kessie, “so there was no way we were going to miss it this year!” Leaving Rosslare on Wednesday, the first destination is La Pommeraye for a two day event on 29/30 May and then they move onto the famous St Goueno for another two day event on June 5/6. With characters like John Mahon and Vincent “VX” O’Reilly on the team’s entry list, there is no doubt that the French competitors will again receive a healthy dose of Irish “craic”!! Motorsport Ireland’s Dermot Quigley competed with the team last year and he brings his Anglia again this year, describing it as an event he wouldn’t miss! Below is a list of drivers travelling with ASK Racing:
|1||VINCENT O REILLY ||AUSTIN HEALEY SPRITE|
|2||RICHARD BELL||FORD SIERRA COSWORTH|
|3||RORY STEVENS||RADICAL SR3 TURBO|
|4||DERMOT QUIGLEY||FORD ANGLIA|
|6||DERMOT NOLAN||REYNARD F3|
|7||ALAN KESSIE||LOLA T87/50|
|8||SIMON MC KINLEY||LANT RT2|
|9||SIOBHAN MC CANN||RAY|
|10 ||JOHN MAHON||DJ RACE CAR|
|11 ||ENDA BYRNE||DJ RACE CAR|
|12 ||PETE RAY||F/FORD|
|13 ||BARRY SMITH||FORD ESCORT MK |