Saturday 30th April sees the first “overseas” trip of the 2022 season for the British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres, when we visit Craigantlet located on the outskirts of Belfast in Northern Ireland.
As one of five venues chosen to host a round of the inaugural British Hillclimb Championship back in 1947, Craigantlet has a special place in Championship history. When the BHC first started there were just five rounds at Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, Bo’ness near Falkirk in Scotland, Bouley Bay in Jersey and Craigantlet. Of the original five only Bo’ness does not currently host a round of the BHC. The Championship has now expanded considerably and consists of thirty rounds at ten different venues across the whole of the UK.
A major difference to most other BHC venues is that Craigantlet takes place on closed public roads. The majority of the Championship is run on private roads, usually on private land. Roads are usually very narrow. It is therefore a very different driving and spectating experience when competing or watching at the wide and fast flowing Craigantlet course.
The Craigantlet event usually attracts the cream of British Hillclimbing talent. 2022 is no exception with record numbers of BHC registered contenders entered and excellent quality too. The entry boasts eight of the 2021 top ten finishing drivers including reigning Champion Wallace Menzies in his Cosworth XD engined Gould GR59-M and 2022 runner up Alex Summers in his DJ Firestorm. The top BHC finishing lady competitor Nicola Menzies, is also entered in her Nicholson McLaren engined Gould GR55B.
Competition is sure to be fierce as registered contenders fight to score BHC points. Being the second event of the season, the focus will be on scoring good early points. As well as being two rounds of the BHC the event is the second round of the Miller Oils ANICC Hillclimb Championship. This attracts many local drivers competing throughout the day in a wide variety of road-going and racing cars.
Competitive action is scheduled to start at 9.00am on the Saturday morning and will continue for the majority of the day. Being a closed public road venue spectator entry is free of charge. Spectators can access the venue at the bottom of the course adjacent to the start-line from the Old Holywood Road/Massey Avenue direction. The 1460 yard climb is spectacular, with the current record standing at 39.12 seconds, an average speed of close to 78mph from a standing start. So, if you are across in Northern Ireland on Saturday 30th April make your way to Craigantlet – you won’t be disappointed!