March 19th, 2014
“Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team
The first rounds of the 2014 BTRDA and MSA Autotest Championships took place at Curborough in Staffordshire on Sunday and for the first time in fifteen years, two Scottish competitors made the step up from club level autotests to compete in the premier league of the sport.
Under the guidance of former Scottish Autotest Champion, Gordon Clendinning, Dumfries drivers, Warren Gillespie and William Keaning hope to gain valuable experience throughout 2014 by competing at the sports highest level.
Warren and William, both members of South of Scotland Car Club, have been selected to head up the newly formed “Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team, having demonstrated at local car club events, a technical ability and eagerness to progress to the next level. Eventually, the objective is to form a team to representScotlandat the legendary Ken Wharton International Team Autotests.
“ I decided to help Warren and William to raise their game and experience the great events, close competition and camaraderie that I enjoyed during the late 80’s and 90’s competing in the RAC MSA Autotest Championship, and in return, both cars will carry “Maximum Attack” decals which will help to raise awareness of our efforts to beat leukaemia”
Gordon has been raising funds for the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre atGartnavelHospitalinGlasgowsince diagnosis in 2004.
The decision to form the team was only taken about six weeks ago and in that short time frame Warren had taken the plunge and purchased the ex Davy Boyce Vauxhall Nova while William’s Vauxhall Nova had to be built from scratch within the last two weeks.
With the efforts of the last few weeks in mind, the team would like to thank Robert and Bob Sloan, Liam Harkness and South of Scotland Car Club members for their hard work and support. Galloway Signs Ltd and G23 Graphix for supplying decals and Knavesmire for access to testing facilities.
Curborough event report
BTRDA and MSA Autotest Championships round 1
What a way to start the British Autotest Championship season.
Warren Gillespie and Willie Keaning were greeted by sunshine, blue sky and 16 challenging tests, laid out by former British Autotest Champion, Malcolm Livingstone. The venue for the Hagley and District Light Car Club event was the Curborough Sprint track just north ofLichfieldin Staffordshire.
Both cars passed scrutineering without any problems and while the boys set off to learn the four tests which would be run consecutively, Gordon Clendinning washed the cars and applied the championship decals in readiness for the day ahead.
When Gordon caught up with the boys out on the tests it was already apparent that Warren and Willie between them, had devised a system for learning the tests which achieved their first objective at this level of getting the tests correct and avoiding the dreaded Wrong Direction time penalties.
Twenty seven entries made the start of the event with five Vauxhall Nova’s and two Nissan Micra’s making up the entry in Class B.
Class rivals, Roger Holder and Lee Valentine were expected to continue their battle at the head of the class and throughout the day both drivers were within one or two seconds of each other on every test.
Willie was the first Scottish driver to tackle the tests and it became immediately clear that the concerns raised at the test at Heathhall on Friday night over the recently acquired 1600cc engine’s health were well founded. The engine was down on power, breathing heavily and was creating it’s own foggy conditions out on the tests.
The first lap of four tests passed off without incident .Warren quickly settled into his rhythm. However Willie was unfortunate to pick up a 5 second line fault which was not surprising as he was having to drive around the engine problem as well as concentrating on coaxing the underpowered Nova around the tests.
At the first of many “splash and dash” refuelling stops and tyre checks, the boys were raving about their experiences on the tests and set about the second lap of tests with a new found eagerness and growing confidence. A five second penalty for each driver on this loop sharpened the mind somewhat and Warren and Willie started to reduce their respective test times as they got used to the grip levels and became more comfortable in the knowledge that they now knew where they were going!
The lunch halt provided a chance for the drivers to relax and collect their thoughts after what had been a hectic morning of learning the challenging tests and competing in an unfamiliar environment.
Warrenreduced his rear tyre pressures as he felt the rear was sliding too much, while Willie made some adjustments and tried to coax some more power from his engine.
Throughout the third loop of tests, Willie somehow managed to take, on average, three or four seconds per test off his previous times, although the density of the fog exiting the Nova’s exhaust was starting to thicken considerably and starting to cause real concern as to whether it would last the day.
Warren was taking similar chunks of time off his times from the morning tests and was loving every second driving his new Nova, The car sounded awesome and seemed to be handling like a dream which inspires confidence for the season ahead.
The final loop of tests started well for both drivers with Warren and Willie showing real commitment and confidence to throw the cars at the astride lines and both drivers succeeded in taking another five seconds each off their respective test times. So, with only two tests remaining it looked like they could now cruise to the finish.
It’s a true saying that “it’s not over till the fat lady sings”
After a final “splash and dash” for fuel, Willie’s Nova point blankly refused to start.
A slave battery was employed along with a new set of spark plugs and thankfully the tired engine coughed into life.
However, further drama was about to unfold on the penultimate test. Willie had just started the test and was about ten seconds in, when the clutch cable somehow detached itself from the top of the clutch pedal leaving the car stranded. Willie managed to refit the cable on the test but the damage was done as the time taken to complete the test would have been more than the test maximum time.
Warren and Willie were relieved and elated to finish the event in 5th and 6th place in Class B and 16th and 19th places overall respectively.
Both drivers deserve a huge pat on the back for their considerable achievements over the last few weeks and they cant wait for the second round of the championship at Foxley in Herefordshire in three weeks time.
On behalf of the “Maximum Attack” Scottish Autotest Team , we would like to thank everyone in South of Scotland Car Club for their help and support recently.