April 14th, 2014
‘Maximum Attack’ Scottish Autotest Team
2014 BTRDA and MSA Autotest Championships, Round 2, Foxley, Herefordshire
Warren Gillespie and Willie Keaning’s second road trip of the 2014 autotest season took them to deepest Herefordshire. Three hundred miles fromDumfriesbut well worth the effort to experience the famous Foxley autotest.
There is much intrigue surrounding this event with competitors at the first round of the championship asking, “are you going to experience Foxley” ” you need to go, its great, totally different”
This is one of those “must do” events for the serious autotester. An event like no other on the autotest calendar. The Foxley event is actually held on the Mansel Lacey Estate and comprises of concrete roads and yards that have a fearsome reputation for damaging cars and challenging the best of drivers. Tight surroundings, fences, trees, log piles and low grip levels all combine to make this event a serious challenge.
Wallace Keaning accompanied the boys in the absence of Gordon Clendinning and did a fine job of restricting the alcohol intake on the Saturday evening at the now becoming familiar, Premier Inn overnight stop. Hereford is famous as the home of the SAS and the boys were looking forward to their own SAS training session on Sunday, however in their case, SAS stood for Special Autotest Skills.
Warren and Willie presented their respective “Maximum Attack” Vauxhall Nova’s for scrutiny at 08.15 where both passed with complimentary comments on the level of preparation. At signing on, an amendment to test site A was given to the drivers. This differed from the proposed test diagrams received during the week leading up to the event.
Having had the time to study the tests before the trip south, both Warren and Willie commented to Gordon that the tests looked alright although once again, there were 4 tests to learn and remember!. When the time came to walk the tests, Foxley’s unique surroundings soon became apparent. Test location B however, was a shock to the system. Warren commented, “there couldn’t be a test on that hill, it’s too steep and narrow”
Checking the plan and diagrams confirmed that Test B, aptly named The Hill, would pose a serious challenge.Warrendescribed it as narrow, steep (steep enough to worry about getting the car off the line) and a concrete surface made treacherous with moss and grass growing from seams between the concrete sections with a light drizzle thrown in for good measure!
Test sites C and D comprised more of the same but thankfully minus the incline. While Test A was the most open test, located in a wood yard area with stacks of timber close enough that dayglow tabards had been placed on the corners of the protruding logs just to focus the mind and highlight the dangers. Class B (mostly Nova’s and Micra’s) started the event at test site B. Getting the chance to watch the first few competitors tackling the opening tests, Warren and Willie soon realised just how slippy the conditions were on the first loop of tests. Once these events get underway it’s test after test, hand your timecard in, refuel and go again. There’s not much time to catch your breath.
The main topic of discussion between tests was the lack to grip on all the test sites preventing anyone from attacking the tests. There was much discussion regarding tyre pressures resulting in both Nova’s dropping the tyre pressures in an attempt to find some much needed traction.
The second loop of tests seemed to be even slippier, possibly due to the tight confines of the tests and the close proximity of grassy, muddy verges. Put a tyre off the concrete and you could easily lose a couple of seconds. Both Warren and Willie collected a couple of line faults and pylons on this run but crucially, and for the second event in succession, remained WD free.
The half hour lunch halt provided a welcome break although the changeable weather conditions turned to persistent rain. The boys took the time to collect their thoughts after a tough morning and had time for a wander around the paddock. The level of car preparation at national events is quite high and also noted was the ingenious transportation solutions inside Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans. It is actually possible to get two Caterhams inside a Sprinter van!.
To everyone’s surprise, following thirty minutes of rain, the tests had managed to wash themselves clean and there was now a much better level of grip for the third loop of tests. Roger Holder immediately stamped his authority on the class and showed everyone how these tests should be done. Willie was also on the attack, now revelling in the traction that was sadly lacking during the mornings tests. Some excellent times saw him quickly closing the gap to his team mate and the pair were set to have a real ding dong battle over the final four tests.
The final loop of tests started and almost immediatelyWarrenpicked up a couple of penalties due to incorrect positioning of his car during reversing manoeuvres. Meanwhile Willie was setting some scorching times to round off his event. All too soon the final test was completed, the time cards were handed in and the boys got loaded up and ready for the long trip back toDumfries.
When the results were announced following the sixteen challenging tests, Willie had finished in 12th place overall on 1182.0 seconds and had managed to overhaulWarren’s lead from the morning tests.Warrenfinished in 13th place overall on 1183.3 seconds. All that separated the pair was 1.3 seconds.
A fantastic day’s autotesting at a great venue and the boys can now say they have competed on “The Hill” at Foxley .
Warren and Willie are now holding 2nd and 4th places respectively in the BTRDA Bronze Star category. Next event is atBirminghamon the 18th May.
On behalf of the “Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team We would like to thank the Foxley organising team, Sue and Darren Underwood, Alastair Moffatt , Justin and all the marshals and timekeepers for another warm reception and for their support during the event.