NI Autotest Championship R3

Photo: Derek Smyth
Mark King again showed that he is a potential event winner if the Mini Specials slip up at all. A terrific second place overall.

Round 3 – Ferguson Untouchable.

The third round of the 2021 Northern Ireland Autotest Championship, sponsored by McMillan Specialist Cars of Antrim, took place on Saturday June 5 at the Transport Training Services Centre, Nutts Corner.  Organised by Larne Motor Club, just as Round 1 had been, and run at the same venue as Round 1, it came as little surprise that the overall winner was the same too.  Steven Ferguson is simply in a class of his own.

Three events and three wins for the Stewartstown man. Steven Ferguson gave another masterclass at the Larne Championship Event. Photo Derek Smyth.

Three tests were set by the experienced Colin Earney, tight and challenging for the Championship contenders to be done four times, and a little more open version of each (and easier to remember) for the Clubmen and Advanced categories to be done three times.  This format works quite well, and the use of Stopastride Live results service made it easy to keep track of how the competition was developing.

Of the Championship contenders, Paul Mooney was to have an early exit.  After completing three runs of the first test, he decided to change the rear tyres on his Westfield sports car, only to discover that the rear suspension mountings were on the verge of failure and he would take no further part.

Andy Blair’s efforts to take the fight to Mark King were thwarted by not one but two drive shaft failures. Photo Derek Smyth.

Another suffering from mechanical failure was Andy Blair in his Vauxhall Nova.  A constant-Velocity joint would let go on the third run at the first test, and to heap insult on injury, another similar failure would hit him just two tests later.  Despite the heavy penalties for failing to complete these two tests, Andy would still take the runners-up spot in his class ahead of Damien Mooney, George McMillan and Gary Campbell.

The star of this class however was Mark King.  Well out of sight from the rest of his class, Mark managed to take second place overall on the event, sandwiched between the Mini Specials of Steven Ferguson and Robin Lyons, with James Wilson in fourth place, also in a Mini Special.

Jonni McDaid, from Castlederg, and Andrew Earney battled it out for the small saloon class in their Minis, with Jonni winning comfortably and taking fifth place overall.

Andrew Earney wasn’t able to match Jonni McDaid on the day despite having just one pylon fault to Jonni’s two. Photo Derek Smyth.

It was good to see Darren Quille making the trip North to join in the competition in his Sports car.  With no competitions South of the Border for over a year now, Darren was glad to get a run out.  He had Trevor Ferguson as a benchmark in his class and couldn’t quite match the pace of the flying Stewartstown man in his Stryker Salvia.  Even with a 20 second penalty on the very last test, Trevor would still end up 15 seconds clear, and seventh place overall.

Trevor Ferguson hassles his Stryker round a pylon on his way to a Class win and seventh place overall. Photo Derek Smyth.

In the Clubman Category, for those with limited experience of Autotest, Jack Gillis again came out on top in his purposeful Vauxhall Nova.  Closest to Jack in his class was young Adam McMullan in his unusual Toyota Starlet special.  Gordon Buckley, perhaps a bit on the experienced side for the Clubman Category, was the only competitor in Sportscar Class B and ended up in third place overall behind Jimmy Dougan.

Championship sponsor George McMillan had a new gear linkage fitted for the event and found that it took a bit of getting used to. Photo Derek Smyth.

Only three competitors signed up for the Advanced Category.  Robert Dickson was easily the winner ahead of Gareth Dillon and Robert Robinson.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the event ran well and only the weather conspired to make life a little difficult with a massive downpour just as the Championship competitors moved to their final test.  Fortunately it affected all competitors more or less equally.  Steven Ferguson would look to be on a trajectory to take the Northern Ireland Championship title, while Mark King continues to put his Vauxhall Nova in among the Mini Specials.

McMillan Specialist Cars Northern Ireland Autotest Championship Round 3

Overall Winner – Steven Ferguson

Championship Category:

  • Class A – Steven Ferguson
  • Class B – Trevor Ferguson
  • Class C – Jonni McDaid
  • Class D – Mark King

Clubman Category:

  • Class A – Jack Gillis
  • Class B – Gordon Buckley
  • Class C – Jimmy Dougan
  • Class D – George McMillen

Advanced Category:

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

You can see the full results here ===> Round 3