October 2nd, 2014
‘Maximum Attack’ Scottish Autotest Team Reports.
The Scottish Association of Car Clubs annual Autotest Challenge event was held at Kames Motorsport Complex, Muirkirk on Sunday the 14th September. The event was hosted by East Ayrshire Car Club and attracted an entry of twenty competitors who battled it out over fourteen tests using the sprint track, infield roads and the lower paddock area.
The event consisted of an Autotest, an Autosolo and a Production Car Autotest so there was something to suit everyone’s ability. Three tests were laid out around the complex and the best three times from four runs at each test counted towards the results, however the final test was an amalgamation of all three tests and this proved to be a test of stamina with the fastest drivers completing this “mega test” in just under three minutes.
Right from the start, Scottish Autotest Team drivers Willie Keaning and Warren Gillespie set out to dominate the event with some stunning times in their respective Vauxhall Nova’s. These two proved to be in a class of their own and on five of the fourteen tests they recorded identical times!
Going into the final “mega test” Willie had managed to maintain a hard fought four second advantage butWarrenhadn’t given up the chase. As he started the final deciding test, Willie and Gordon Clendinning nervously kept an eye on the stopwatch and it looked likeWarrenhad pulled three seconds back going into the final third of the test. However, a slightly wild reverse spin and a small hesitation on the final reversing manoeuvre was enough to seal a hat trick of wins in the Scottish Autotest Challenge for Willie taking a winning four second margin overWarren.
In the rear wheel drive class, Archie Simmonds (MG Midget) and Gordon Clendinning (Mazda MX5) lined up for another one of those epic battles. After twelve tests and the removal of their slowest times the two drivers couldn’t be separated. The pressure was on going into the final qualifying run but Gordon held his nerve to record a time two seconds faster than Archie and made it a clean sweep of the podium positions for the “Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team.
Thanks to East Ayrshire Car Club for hosting the event and providing a great autotest venue with a cafe and toilet facilities. Also, a big thanks to the Scottish Association of Car Clubs for supplying the Challenge trophy. Congratulations to Willie Keaning on another impressive win.
“Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team
The final adventure for Warren Gillespie and Willie Keaning in 2014
(or maybe not, as it turns out)
compiled by Gordon Clendinning
The 2014 MSA and BTRDA Autotest Championships came to a nail biting conclusion on Sunday the 21st September. Loughborough Car Club had to move their event to Blyton Park Driving Centre near Gainsborough inLincolnshire, when it became apparent that their usual venue would be unavailable for this years event.
When the test diagrams arrived prior to the event the general consensus was that the tests looked tight. This was confirmed by the aerial photograph of the proposed test locations on a kart track!. The tests were indeed tight for space in some places but proved a real challenge for our intrepid autotesters. The boys now take these events in their stride and don’t seem fazed by anything that the British Autotest Championships has thrown at them during their first full season.
Warren’s day got off to the worst possible start when he suffered his first driveshaft breakage of the season on the very first astride line. This immediately dropped him to the bottom of the class and a strong fight back would be required if he was to gain the necessary points to take the BTRDA Bronze Star award.
By comparison, Willie started the event like he had been fired out of a gun! Posting a very respectable time on test one and helping Warren by keeping the pressure on father and son team Dave and Toby Cook from Maidstone. Dave Cook is a wily old fox and has been around the autotest scene even longer me.
Best known for his exploits in rear wheel drive cars, Dave has been sharing a front wheel drive Nissan Micra with Toby this season and was putting all those years of experience to good use and giving our boys a real run for their money.
Willie picked up a couple of penalties before the lunch break and managed to rip the front bumper off the Nova, not once but twice! The tests were indeed tight but Willie was having a real go in his attempt to hold off the Cooks. At the head of the class, Roger Holder was untouchable in my old Nova and showing our boys how to deal with the confines of the kart track in some style. Meanwhile, Warren had replaced the broken driveshaft and set about a damage limitation drive to gain enough points to secure the big prize.
I had a busy day juggling a video camera, stopwatch and mobile phone camera and generally keeping the boys up to date with the frantic pace of developments elsewhere on the tests.
While the team was immersed in the Class B battle, at the head of the event the winner of both championships would be decided in this final round “winner takes all” shoot out between current champion Richard Pinkney and rising star Paul Fobister.
On the first test, only 0.4 of a second separated the pair and a mammoth battle was in prospect. But it was not to be Fobby’s day as mechanical problems intervened. However, in the true spirit of autotesting Richard was on the scene desperately trying to repair his rivals car so the battle could continue. Although the repairs were effective the time dropped was not recoverable and Richard Pinkney claimed both theMSAand the BTRDA Championships finishing four seconds ahead of Malcolm Livingstone with Alastair Moffet a further seven seconds in arrears.
In Class B, Roger Holder took the win from Willie Keaning with Dave Cook a further eight seconds down.Warrenfinished fourth in class, seven seconds behind Dave but crucially thirty seconds in front of Toby Cook to become the winner of the BTRDA Bronze Star for 2014.
After the event, the MSA laid on a buffet for the competitors, marshals and organising team while the Championship awards were presented. Warren and Willie’s seasons efforts were rewarded with 9th and 12th places overall respectively in the MSA British Autotest Championship and 1st and 2nd in the BTRDA Autotest Championship Bronze Star category, 3rd and 4th overall in the BTRDA Silver Star category, 10th and 14th overall respectively in the BTRDA Gold Star Championship and 2nd and 4th overall in Class B.
All in all, a massive achievement for them both at the end of the season and a true indication of the time, commitment and team work that they have both displayed throughout the year.
We got together in February this year and discussed the possibility of getting the boys up to speed and capable of holding their heads above water in the British Autotest Championship. Not only have we made a big step in the right direction during 2014 but an added and unexpected bonus for the teams hard work is that both Warren and Willie have been invited to run as reserves at the annual “Ken Wharton” International Team Autotest on the 18th of October.
My ultimate dream of seeing a Scottish International Team taking on the might of Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, England and Wales is starting to take shape. Looks like we will be crossing the border and heading south again very soon.