Mooney Takes Championship Win
Coagh driver Paul Mooney went into the last round of the Sam Bowden Garage Services Autotest Championship with a slender 2 point lead over season-long rival Paul Blair. The final event in the series was held in the grounds of Loughry College and attracted 23 drivers to take part.
Money’s lead in the series took a bad knock at the last event in Coleraine, with the wheels literally coming off his title bid. A failure in the front suspension let Paul Blair take the win and close the championship gap to just two points.
The Loughry event didn’t go to plan for Mooney either. A late change of direction caused him to incur a fail on the very first test, and he thus dropped to last place overall. Meantime, Paul Blair and Ashley Lamont were battling it out for honours in the sports car class, and between them took the two fastest times on that first test. Mooney had a mountain to climb.
On the third test, Mooney clipped a pylon, incurring another 5 seconds penalty he could have done without. A quarter way through the event and he had only made up four places overall, and was still behind all the regulars in the Mini Special class.
Then began the comeback in ernest. Fastest overall on all three tests on the second loop, and he was now just over 10 seconds behind the leaders in his class. A repeat performance with three fastest times on the next loop saw him just over 3 seconds behind class leader Peter Grimes, but more importantly, sitting in fifth place overall when he needed to be no lower than second!
A real nail-biting final loop saw Paul take the lead in his class, and snatch the second place overall he needed. Paul Blair had done everything he could, taking a fine win by almost 20 seconds, and could do nothing but watch Mooney work his way back through the field to take the needed second spot. A fantastic end to a superb season of Autotesting.
Winners in the various classes on the day were:
Class A Mini Specials – Paul Mooney
Class B Sportscars – Paul Blair
Class C Small Saloons – Robin Lyons
Class D Large Saloons – Mark King
Class E Beginners – Raymond Donaldson