July 30th, 2015
Maximum Attack Autotest Report
“Maximum Attack” Autotest Saturday 25th and the Triple Crown Challenge Sunday 26th
Thirty two of the best drivers in the UK and Ireland made the trip to Dumfries for the Maximum Attack Autotest, the first time since the late nineties that Scotland has hosted a round of the British Autotest Championship. The event was organised and hosted by South of Scotland Car Club and was a qualifying round of both the MSA and BTRDA Autotest Championships.
Fifteen challenging tests greeted the drivers from as far away as Gloucestershire and Dublin.
The event was split into four classes:
The class for the classic Mini, Robin Lyons set off at a ferocious pace to lead Dave Mosey by 29 seconds after the first six tests. He continued to lead the class despite incurring two 5 second penalties for failing to cross marked line with both wheels and cruised to victory in the class by a staggering 59 seconds.
Known as the large saloon car class, this is the domain of the Vauxhall Nova with a strong field of 9 entries. Local interest in class B, Dumfries drivers Warren Gillespie and current BTRDA Silver Star and Class B leader Willie Keaning had their work cut out with six very quick drivers from Northern Ireland to contend with. As expected, the Irish drivers were fast from the word go. Mark King and Paul Mooney set the pace only 0.4 apart on the first test but gradually Mooney pulled ahead and was a strong contender for an overall top three position.. Willie Keaning held a slender 1 second lead over his team mate Warren Gillespie after 12 tests but managed to extend his advantage to finish the day 3.5 seconds to the good.
Paul Mooney pushed his Nova to the limit and ended up in a tie for 3rd overall with Mini driver Robin Lyons. Officials had to recheck both driver’s time cards and Mooney won the tie break by recording a faster time on the opening test.
The sports car class is always the most spectacular to watch and Saturday’s event saw the cream of the crop with current British Autotest Champion Richard Pinkney in his Caterham up against the current N.Ireland championship leader Paul Blair in his Sylva Striker. Unfortunately for Pinkney, Paul Blair was on top form and Richard was unable to match the pace of his rival, incurring a handful of penalties which put him out of contention. Paul Blair provided a masterclass of precision driving and not only won class C convincingly but also went on to take the overall honours to win the event by 8.1 seconds after almost fourteen minutes of competitive driving.
The “Specials” class is made up, as the name suggests, of very specialized, lightweight cars some based around the classic Mini but others designed and hand built specifically to compete at the highest level, these are the Formula 1 cars in the autotesting world. Heading the class was current British championship leader Alastair Moffat and multiple N.Ireland champion Stephen Ferguson, both driving Mini Specials, following them closely was Triple British Champion Paul Swift, making a one off return especially for this event and also coming out of retirement was autotest legend, Ken Irwin, the 75 year old from Castlederg in Co.Tyrone. Paul and Ken, along with event co-ordinator Gordon Clendinning worked together as stunt drivers on the Top Gear Live World Tour for many years and the former autotest champions were reunited at this event in aid of Gordon’s “Maximum Attack” fundraising appeal which has been raising money for the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre at Gartnavel in Glasgow for ten years this year.
Moffat and Ferguson battled hard and only 0.1 of a second separated the pair after the first six tests. Ferguson clipped a marked pylon on test 8 and dropped 5 seconds to almost fall into the clutches of 3rd place man Swift. Moffat kept his nerve and finished the event in second place to take maximum points and extend his lead in the British Championships. Meanwhile in the closest of finishes, Paul Swift set some incredible times on the final two tests to finish just 0.1 of a second behind Stephen Ferguson.
Overall, Paul Blair took a thoroughly deserved FTD win (fastest time of the day) on 824.4 (Sylva Striker)
2nd overall Alastair Moffat 832.5 (Mini Special) 1st in class D
3rd overall Paul Mooney 837.6 (Vauxhall Nova) 1st in class B
4th overall Robin Lyons 837.6 (Mini Saloon) 1st in class A
5th overall Stephen Ferguson 840.4 (Mini Special)
6th overall Paul Swift 840.5 (Mini Special)
Maximum Attack Triple Crown Team Challenge
Having got away with dry conditions on the previous days event, the expected rain arrived just after the start of day two at NWF, Heathhall. A more relaxed event with eight tests was planned for Sunday with some local club drivers joining in with the competitors from the previous day.
An added bonus to the individual competition for Sunday was a team event, known as the Triple Crown Team Challenge, this event was raising funds for event co-ordinator, Gordon Clendinning’s Maximum Attack appeal. The format was something a little different with each three car team being made up of an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman. A draw was held at the prize giving on Saturday night to select the teams and on Sunday morning the battle commences.
Robin Lyons once again was the man to beat in class A, taking the class win by seven seconds, however, this time Dave Mosey was much closer, revelling in the wet conditions.
The Class B battle raged again but Mark King proved to be the rain master, forging ahead in the difficult conditions to pull out a fifteen second lead over David Thompson with Paul Mooney a further 2.3 seconds in arrears. Once again, the local battle was between Warren Gillespie and Willie Keaning with Warren finishing an excellent fifth in class and seventeen seconds in front of his team mate. Also making an impact was newcomer Murray Walker from New Galloway who took the Novice prize and Kelsey Gillespie from Heathhall who was unanimously awarded the “Drive of the Day” for her efforts in her first major event.
In Class C, Richard Pinkney redeemed himself to score an easy class win and finish 3rd overall. Meanwhile in Class D, Stephen Ferguson was locked in a titanic battle for overall honours with the hard charging Mark King. The battle went down to the very last test with Mark taking a very well deserved overall win by only 1.5 seconds.
Class E for road going cars, was won by Gordon Clendinning, driving his wife’s Mazda MX5 from Paisley’s Grainger Robertson and local driver Drew McLean.
As for the team event, the winners were, Norman Ferguson, Keith Walton and local hero Willie Keaning. They finished the Triple Crown Team Challenge 24.7 second s in front of David Thompson, Paul Swift and Gordon Clendinning with Warren Gillespie, Chris Chapman and George McMillan a further 3.5 seconds back.
Photos Courtesy Of Carrieann Prince Photography