2021 Autotest C’ship – R8

Mark King tried hard but couldn't prevent Steven Ferguson's clean sweep of championship events this year, with the margin 2.1 seconds at the end.

Steven is Seven-Times Champion!

Report by Grace King and photos kindly supplied by Adrian Hanna

Steven Ferguson made it a “grand-slam” in 2021, winning every round of the championship in his Mini Special. A great performance from the seven-time champion. Photo Adrian Hanna

In what can only be described as a sensational end to the season at the eight round of the 2021 Northern Ireland Autotest Championship, sponsored by McMillan Specialist Cars of Antrim, Mark King in his Vauxhall Nova almost caused one of the biggest upsets in Autotesting history to put a large saloon on the top step of the podium. However, it just wasn’t to be for the Newmills driver, a missed gear on the second last test of the day cost him precious time and handed the event win to the unbeatable Steven Ferguson, securing him the 2021 Overall Championship win, making it his seventh time of taking the title.

Organised by the Autotest Drivers Club and hosted at Transport Training Services, Nutts Corner the competition was fierce throughout the classes and categories with competitors forced to work hard on the tight and tricky tests. 

James Wilson gave chase in the Mini Special class but the runner’s up spot would be the best he could achieve on the day. Photo Adrian Hanna.

It was Ferguson and King who set the benchmark for the other Championship competitors, trading test times throughout the day, with Steven eventually taking the win by the smallest of margins of 2.1 seconds, securing him a clean sweep of event wins in the 2021 season. James Wilson in his Mini Special put in a stunning performance to round out the top three.  

Unfortunately, Championship contender, Robin Lyons only got to complete one run of the second test, before he suffered a broken gear selector on his Mini Special, forcing him out of the competition. 

Robin Lyons had a frustrating day with a retirement due to mechanical problems with the gear linkage. Photo Adrian Hanna

With Ferguson taking the Overall win, Wilson would be elevated to first place in Class A with the others to battle it out for the remaining two places. This battle would be between the father and son duo of Chris Grimes Senior and Junior, but it would be father Chris Senior who top the runner up spot in the class from Chris Junior, who settled for third.

Class B seen another down to the wire battle between the rear-wheel drive sports cars of Trevor Ferguson and Paul Lowther. A failure on test 1 of the day left Ferguson with it all to do. He managed to reduce Lowther’s class lead to 0.8 seconds at the finish but had to settle for runners up spot.

The evergreen Norman Ferguson took the Mini saloon class this time. Photo Adrian Hanna.

Andrew Earney and Norman Ferguson were the sole competitors in the small saloon class in their Minis, but after four tests Norman would be flying solo as a gearbox failure forced Andrew to withdraw.

Andrew Earney would have his gearbox let him down. Photo Adrian Hanna

Mark King showed he is the King of the Large Saloons taking his fourth Large Saloon Championship in 2021.  Finishing some 121.9 ahead of nearest rival Championship Sponsor George McMillan, allowed King to take the Class D win with McMillan second. Dungannon’s Gary Campbell and Ardboe’s Damien Mooney battled it out for third in class in their Vauxhall Nova’s, but it would be Mooney who took the third spot on the podium and the Semi-Expert win on this occasion.

Gary Campbell lost out to Damien Mooney this time but still finished a creditable fourth place in class. Photo Adrian Hanna

In the Clubman Category, Jack Gillis was again the man to beat, with Ben McKee coming home in second and Adam McMullan third in the category.

Overall Clubman category winner, Jack Gillis in his Vauxhall Nova would also take the Class A win, with Adam McMullan in his Toyota Starlet Special taking the runner spot in the class. 

Adam McMullan in his Starlet Special put in another impressive performance to take second in class. Photo Adrian Hanna.

Gordon Buckley would be the solo entry in Clubman Class B in his GTM, leaving him to take the class win and finish fifth overall in the category standings.

In Clubman Class C Ben McKee in his Nissan Micra took the class win, as well as finishing second overall in the category.

Young Brendan Mooney had a troubled day with a test maximum and a number of pylon faults. Third in class was his final position. Photo Adrian Hanna.

Clubman Class D was all Mazda MX5’s affair, with Derek Harrison taking the class win and finishing fourth overall in the category. Newmill’s Jonny Watson in his first outing in his Mazda top the runner-up spot in the class with seventeen-year-old Mark Ferguson finishing a fantastic first season in Autotesting in third. 

With five highly experienced competitors signed up for the Advanced Category it would prove to be an interesting days competition.  Robert Dickson was easily the winner finishing 23.7 seconds ahead of Gareth Dillon and Harold Hassard.

Championship Series Sponsor George McMillan was runner up in the large saloon class in his nicely prepared Vauxhall Nova. Photo Adrian Hanna.

With the season now at its finish, Championship Co-Ordinator Mark King would like to take the opportunity to thank all the clubs who ran events in what can only be described as strange and challenging times, he highlighted that their support and effort to make the championship happen was greatly appreciated by all the competitors. He would also like to thank all the marshals for their hard work and dedication to the events, and to the competitors for their continued support of the championship. His final thank you goes to McMillan Specialist Cars for their kind sponsorship of the 2021 Championship and he looks forward to working with them again in future, as they continue to develop and evolve the championship programme.

McMillan Specialist Cars Northern Ireland Autotest Championship Round 8


Overall Winner – Steven Ferguson

Championship Category:

  • Class A – James Wilson
  • Class B – Paul Lowther
  • Class C – Norman Ferguson
  • Class D – Mark King

Clubman Category:

  • Class A – Jack Gillis
  • Class B – Gordon Buckley
  • Class C – Ben McKee
  • Class D – Derek Harrison

Advanced Category:

  • Class A – No Competitors
  • Class B – No Competitors
  • Class C – Robert Dickson
  • Class D – Gareth Dillon