8 in a Row for Team NI at Ken Wharton Memorial Autotest
Report by Grace King, photos by Trevor Foster.
Reigning Northern Ireland Autotest Champion, Steven Ferguson, helped the Northern Ireland team to yet another win at the 2019 Ken Wharton Memorial Autotest Competition. This would take the NI teams total number of wins at this event to 38, with this win being their 8th in a row.
Two penalties on Test 1 would leave the NI team a minimal 3 seconds behind the Republic of Ireland, but not for long. After this the team of four would set some lightening quick times to push them ahead of the other teams, showing just how far the level of skill has developed here in the Northern Ireland championship. Sam Bowden from Stewartstown was driving his Austin Mini in the small saloons class, Newmill’s Mark King in the large saloons in his Vauxhall Nova, Coagh’s Trevor Ferguson drove his Stryker Silvia in the sports car class, and Stewartown’s Steven Ferguson in the specials class in his Mini.
The Northern Ireland team continued their dominance throughout the day, which seen them continue to extend their lead over the Republic of Ireland to 57.7 seconds by the final test of the day.
The Republic of Ireland Team, made up of Chris Grimes, Andy Blair, Darren Quille and Guy Foster, finished in second place ahead of the England Team, with Wales bringing up the rear.
1. Northern Ireland 2247.8 seconds,
2. Republic of Ireland 2305.5 seconds,
3. England 2397.0 seconds,
4. Wales 2465.2 seconds
In the Reserves competition, England’s Charlie Lower would take the Class A Small Saloon win from Northern Ireland’s Jonni McDaid in second and Andrew Earney in third. In the Large Saloon Class B, Ballyclare’s George McMillan in his Vauxhall Nova would take the win by 32.7 seconds from Toby Cook. In the Sports Car Class Northern Ireland’s Paul Lowther in his Stryker Silva had to settle for second place behind Stephen Morton. Drumbo’s Robin Lyons had a very unlucky run when his car broke on the third test of the day, forcing him to retire from the specials class in his Mini. It was the Republic of Ireland’s Peter Grimes who would take the win in this class followed home in second by Malcolm Livingston.
Another successful weekend for the guys from Northern Ireland, and now they prepare to take their winter break, where cars will be dismantled and prepared for the start of the 2020 ANICC McMillan Specialist Cars Autotest Championship, which will begin on the Saturday 7th March.