independent

Thursday 21 February 2019

Lotus power and driving knowledge see Sean over the finishing line

Sean Murray with his 1970 Lotus Elan
Sean Murray with his 1970 Lotus Elan
Sean in action in Donegal

David Looby

Racing car driver Sean Murray from Campile finally achieved a lifetime ambition when he took first place in the Historic Class in the 2018 Naylor Engineering sponsored Irish National Hillclimb and Sprint Championship.

Mention hill climbing to most people and they will think of rucksacks and mountain boots, but Sean's type of hill climbing is done in racing cars.

Hillclimbing is a branch of motorsport in which drivers compete against the clock on an uphill course.

It is one of the oldest forms of motorsport, since the first known hillclimb near Nice, France, took place as long ago as January 31, 1897.

The hillclimb held at Shelsley Walsh, in England, is the world's oldest motorsport event still staged on its original course, having been first run in 1905.

Sean, 71, has been competing in the championship for 11 years.

In the last four years he has been on the podium in second and third places, so it was looking like a case of always the bridesmaid.

Sean said: 'The competition was very close this year and went right down to the wire. I won by just one point on the last run of the last event of the season.'

Sean competed in all 13 rounds of this year's championship run over seven weekends in his 1970 Lotus Elan +2S.

Each car competes singly against the clock on up to six runs over the day.

The competitions are run on hills on closed public roads.

'Events are run nationwide in venues from Wexford to Donegal, including Corkscrew Hill in Clare, the Sweep in Dungarvan, Mondello Park, and finally the daunting Knockalla cliff road on Donegal's scenic Atlantic Drive.'

The 48 year-old-car - which complies with the requirements of the FIA specifications for racing cars - is unusual in also being a fully legal road car.

While practically every other competition car is trailered to and from events, Sean drove his car to all the events, and more importantly drove home again afterwards!

Sean was also recently presented with a special award by the Irish Historic Racing Car Association for the second year running for this achievement.

'There are ten different classes of cars competing in the championship, ranging from entry level Fiat Cinqecentos, various classes of rally cars and single seaters, up to 600+ horsepower ex-Formula One monsters.'

Sean's Lotus Elan runs in Class 4 for cars manufactured before 1980.

Sean does all the work on his car, including engine and gearbox rebuilds. The 1970 Lotus Elan was originally rescued from a breaker's yard and was completely restored by Sean who got the most out of her during the 13 rounds of the championship.

'Now, like a good wine it gets better every year!' he said.

Having finally achieved a lifetime ambition, Sean said he is looking forward to a more relaxed year competing in the 2019 Championship.

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