MG Autotest at TTS on Saturday, 24th February 2018

After the immense success of our Derek Walker Trial earlier in the month, this was the first round of our club autotest championship. The battle for the Leslie Porter and Vivien Scott trophies begins.

Martin Hutchinson once again welcomed us to use his premises at TTS and he was holding an open day at the same time. Martin had also thoughtfully got us permission to use the car park at CITB for the parking of trailers and support cars.

But first was our tutorial before the main event. Ashley Lamont, Mark King and Colin Earney had given up their time to give tuition to a number of young and not so young competitors. Surprisingly, outright winner of one of our events last year, Jeremy Tomalin became a pupil for the day, hoping to glean some useful tips from the masters. About 15 beginners and improvers in all enjoyed some pre-match advice.

The autotest itself consisted of three tests, one in front of the TTS building, one on the semi circular roundabout area and one at the back of the training complex.

The first test was one where over-exuberance would surely end in tears against one of the high kerbs. A high speed chase through the car park led to a 360 followed by a tail throw over a line before some further technical skills and finally a retracing of steps to the finish. A good, fast flowing test with a more complex section in the middle. Fastest was Mark King in 41.8 seconds, pipping Paul Blair by a tenth.

The 2nd test on the semi circular section was a quick blast but again containing some technicals. A nose throw to a 360 and then negotiating a tail throw and forwards out the side of an ‘L’ gate belied the apparent simplicity of this test. This time Paul Blair took the honours with a blistering 28.2 seconds but not far behind was Tim Tomalin in the Mini Special, very impressively splitting the times of the Wharton team members. Mark King had a mechanical problem on his last test of the day and had to take a fail in this his last test of the day.

Test 3 was just for fun. A fast, mostly forwards, slalom with a tail throw in the middle was deceptively difficult due to the changing levels of grip on the asphalt surface. Ron Mullan was making major adjustments to his handbrake for the final 360 while a number of other competitors were forced to take a wide line to the finish, costing valuable time. Fastest was Mark King in a superb 26.1 seconds.

Ashley Lamont, alas, didn’t get far on the event. Starting at Test 3, the car seemed to stall and it became apparent that his clutch wasn’t working. Examination revealed that a component had rubbed through a hydraulic pipe and that was the end of his day, a real shame as we were all robbed of the opportunity to see how Ashley, with new new engine, would perform in advance of the 1st round of the 2018 Autotest Championship at Carn next week. Sadly, Jeremy Tomalin in the Ford Special also had a mechanical problem and had to retire.

Winner overall was Paul Blair in his usual unflappable style, with Tim Tomalin putting in a terrific performance to become runner-up, albeit aided by Mark King’s mechanical problems. Mark was third overall.

David Cochrane (1st MG) was 4th, from Jack Brien (1st MX5), Gary Campbell, Andrew Earney in a terrific drive in the standard Yaris and Alex Lyttle also having a great drive too in his A Series Midget. Making up the top 10 were Jimmy Dougan in the Mini tying for joint 9th place with Liam Shaw.

Class winners were as follows:

Class 3 – Dermot Johnson

Class 4 – Alex Lyttle

Class 5 – Andrew Earney

Class 6 – Jack Brien

Class 7 – Tim Tomalin (in lieu of overall winner)

Class 9 – Redmond McNamee


Our heartfelt thanks to our marshals and officials who had to stand out in the most bitterly cold temperatures so that we could run this event. They deserve personal recognition and thanks: Stephen Dawson (COC), stalwarts Colin & Laura, Trevor Reid and our friends from Enniskillen, Wynn, Oliver, Keith, Lorraine, Brian and Robert.

Special thanks also to Ashley Lamont (RWD) and Mark King and Colin Earney (FWD) for taking the tuition session.

And so we look forward to our next event. This will be the MG round of the NI Autotest Championship on 24th March and, as always, we will need marshals to help run the event to the standard we require. Please give back to the sport if you are available to assist us.

Final results can be downloaded here: Results TTS Autotest 24.2.2018