Norman Ferguson's Mini saloon and James Wilson's Special



What a superb round we had at the NI Autotest Championship 2018 with Clubman & Legends events too.

The sun shone and took the edge off a cool breeze but the day stayed dry. Perhaps some of our competitors would have welcomed a shower of rain to reduce the adhesion on the race track surface as it was definitely very grippy.  It certainly wasn’t the place for half-hearted manouvres or the car would come to a sudden halt halfway. 

The only glitch was the non-appearance of the burger van we were promised but, thanks to the efforts of Carol taking orders and ferrying food from the main burger van at the pit bike race, all the marshals were eventually fed. We apologise to the competitors for a problem beyond our control.

Winner overall was reigning champion Paul Mooney from a hard-charging Steven Ferguson in the Mini/Vauxhall Specials. Paul didn’t make it easy though, hitting a pylon on Test 1 and fighting to stay ahead through the event. But stay ahead he did, finally taking the honours by 4 seconds. Third was Peter Grimes.

The rear wheel drive cars were off the pace on this surface but, on this occasion Ashley Lamont got the better of Paul Blair by a 4 second margin.

In the small saloons, Robin Lyons beat Norman Ferguson with a very smooth performance.

There was a battle royal going on throughout the day between Mark King and David Thompson in the large saloon Novas. It went down to the wire and Mark did well to keep his nose in front under considerable pressure. David had picked up a couple of penalties in the first two runs and this turned out to make the difference. Mark stayed clean all day and that is the name of the game in autotesting and, at the same time, gave him an excellent 3rd overall placing. 

The Clubman round was convincingly won by Richard Earney in the heavy roadgoing Mini, a superb result of neat and economical driving. Well done to him. Second overall was Gary Campbell in the lightweight Nova and third was Andrew Earney in, again, a production Yaris which seems to get quicker with every event. Ben Colhoun also put up a sterling performance in the production Mini and secured 4th place. Another stellar drive by Mark Francis gave him the win in the production RWD class.

Class winners were:

A – Gary Campbell

B – Andrew Earney (in place of overall winner)

C – Mark Francis

The Legends class was won by David Jenkins in the Stryker special, from Noel Cochrane in the Toyota engined Midget, whose anti-roll bar became detached from the car. Ron Mullan in his new Yaris unfortunately had to retire with a non-functioning handbrake. Hopefully more competitors will add their names to the Legends list in future rounds.

And so, a terrific venue at Bishopscourt and something refreshingly different. Excellent tests devised by Colin Earney and drawn up by Laura created a worthy championship round in which MG played their part well.  What the Championship competitors did not get to see was an outstanding Test 4 that the Clubmen & Legends lapped up. 

Thanks once again to our marshals, a number of whom changed and rescheduled their plans to make our event possible. These are our unsung heroes and we are extremely grateful to them for their support.

And so to Round 4 (Carn cancelled) on 21st April. This is the UAC round and, I would guess, to be held at Ferguson’s Yard, Stewartstown.


GB  25.3.18