Report by Grace Campbell
Photographs Courtesy of Adrian Hanna
The second round of the McMillan Specialist Cars ANICC Autotest Championship and Clubman Challenge was hosted by Dungannon Motor Club at Loughry College, Cookstown on Saturday 16th March, when 30 of the top autotesters from across the country showed their precision driving skills, over 3 challenging timed tests. Event Sponsor and Clerk of the Course Malcolm McQueen welcomed all the competitors at the drivers briefing and wished them all the best for the days event, but none of those present realised how stiff a day’s competition it would prove to be.
On Test 1 Ashley Lamont would set the fastest time of 71.0 seconds in his Westfield, with Sam Bowden 0.4 seconds behind in his Mini Saloon. But after the first loop of 3 tests it would be the Westfield of Lamont who would hold a 2.8 second lead over the Mini Special of Steven Ferguson in second, with the Vauxhall Nova of David Thompson only 0.8 seconds behind in third. With 9 more tests to complete it was all to play for, and any slight mistake could cost them dearly as the results after 6 tests would show.
With 6 tests completed, Lamont would still be in the lead but Mark King in his Vauxhall Nova had found his form and set the fastest time on test 6 to climb the leader board into second place, forcing Ferguson back into third. A penalty on test 7 would cost Lamont dearly, dropping him down the leader board and out of the top 3, allowing Peter Grimes and Robin Lyons both in their Mini Specials to leapfrog up into first and second respectively, with King now pushed back into third. The top three were separated by only 1.6 seconds, so it would go right down to the wire to see who would be the eventual winner.
A pylon on his final test of the day would cost Desertmartin man King the overall win, leaving him to settle for third overall, with Robin Lyons in second and Peter Grimes taking the overall win. With 4 drivers in 3 vastly different types of cars fighting it out for the win the spectators who had turned out to watch, were shown some of the most exceptional autotesting that the championship can produce.
With Grimes taking the overall win, it was Lyons who collected the Class A honours, with Ferguson eventually having to settle for second and James Wilson in third, all in their Mini Specials. Lamont took the Class B win, with Trevor Ferguson second and Paul Lowther third in their rear-wheel drive sports cars. Class C was all the Mini men, with Bowden taking the class win, from Jonni McDaid in second and Norman Ferguson in third. In Class D for the Large Saloon Cars, King would take the win from Thompson, with Jamie McMillan finishing third after a difficult day in his Vauxhall Nova, with several mechanical issues costing him precious time.
In the Clubman Challenge, round 1 winner Gary Campbell in his Vauxhall Nova, would be the man to be setting the fastest time on the first two tests of the day. After three tests it would be Campbell who lead the way, with Gordon Buckley in his Cox GTM 18.6 seconds adrift in second with Jimmy Dougan in third. Jimmy had been forced to swap from his Vauxhall Nova to his Mini Saloon at the last minute, due to engine problems. After 6 tests the places remained unchanged for the top three positions, but a failure on test 8 would cost Dougan his third place, allowing Brendan Mooney in his Westfield to slip through into third overall. At the end of the day the Clubman Challenge would finish with Campbell first, Buckley second and Mooney third.
Campbell would also take the Class A win, with fellow Nova driver Jack Gillis being forced to retire due to gearbox problems. Buckley would take the Class B win, with Mooney settling for second. The fail on test 8 would also cost Dougan the Class C win, allowing Ben Colhoun to take the class honours. Class D would be won by Fergus Mallon in his first ever autotest in his Mazda MX-5.
It would be a two-horse race in the Advanced Challenge between two very different cars, Damien Mooney in his lightweight Vauxhall Nova autotest car and Colin Hazelton in his standard road-going Mazda MX-5. Both competitors tackled the tests with vigour and showed some excellent driving skills, but it would be Mooney who would take the win at the end of the day.
Full results can be found here ===>. RESULTS
With two rounds completed, the autotesting championship and challenge road-train rolls onto the next round, which will be hosted by MG Car Club at Transport Training Services, Nutts Corner.