July 26th, 2014
Scottish Autotest Team. Mid Season Round-Up.
Scottish Autotest Team
2014 MSA and BTRDA Autotest Championship’s
The continuing adventures of Warren Gillespie and Willie Keaning
Images courtesy of Nic Ayre…..[nggallery id=106]
It’s been a hectic few weeks for Warren and Willie in their quest to gain autotest experience and it certainly looks like they are now making a big impression on the MSA and BTRDA autotest regulars.
The last weekend in June saw the boys load up and head down to Wales for the Caernarvonshire Motor Club’s BTRDA round 7 event on the Isle of Anglesey on the Saturday. The next day, the travelling circus moved on to the MSA championship round 5 at the premises of Demon Tweeks near Wrexham.
The Anglesey tests were fairly complex to learn but this didn’t stop Willie taking his first class win in the BTRDA Championship with Warren finishing in third place behind Roger Holder.
The Sunday MSA event at Demon Tweeks saw a complete reversal of the class positions when Roger Holder took the class from Warren, with Willie having to settle for 3rd in the class.
The second double header autotest weekend was looming large and Warren and Willie used the time between events to further refine the “shuttle gear cluster” that Willie had designed and successfully built for his own car. A few slight modifications were made to the original and a second modified gear cluster was built and fitted to Warrens car before heading over to Hartlepool for what turned out to be a very challenging event.
Hartlepool and District Motor Club’s event’s at Seaton Carew are held in the car park directly behind the sea wall and it has a reputation of being quite slippy and bloody cold when the wind is whipping in from the North Sea.
Warrenhad competed there in the past, and had an idea of what to expect.
The current heat wave that we have been experiencing was threatening to break last Saturday but it hadn’t quite managed it. When the boys arrived the tests were wet but by the time the first car took to the tests, the surface had dried out significantly.
Willie was fastest out of the blocks, taking three fastest times in the class over the opening tests and putting pressure on class leader Dave Cook.Warrenwas settling into his new gearbox and his test times were started to get quicker up to the lunch break.
As the first cars set out for the afternoon tests the heavens opened and soon the test sites resembled a seaside boating lake. The level of grip changed totally and parts of each test became treacherously slippy. Everyone struggled with the rear wheel drive cars suffering the most. Micra driver Dave Cook proved to be the “rainmeister” as Warren and Willie struggled for grip in their more powerful Nova’s.
To compete at the highest level in the British Autotest Championship, a driver needs to be quick in all conditions from dry grippy tarmac to the monsoon, slippy conditions that the boys experienced on Saturday. Dave Cook took the class win by 9.3 seconds from Warren and a hard charging Willie a mere 2.7 seconds behind Warren in third place. Another valuable lesson learnt.
The Sunday event was held at Sherburn in Elmet just south ofYorkand thankfully the conditions had reverted back to dry, hot and sticky!
Fifteen tests lay in front of the competitors and Willie hit the ground running withWarrenhot on his heels, both of them pulverising the rest of the class B runners.
Although Willie was setting some stunning times he was also picking up a few penalties, as were the other drivers in the class but Warren was forging ahead and keeping it clean and relatively tidy.
A string of seven fastest times in the class and full confidence in the new gearbox gave Warren an excellent class win by 9.2 seconds from Willie, who in turn finished a fantastic 28 seconds ahead of Dave Cook.
Currently Warren and Willie are lying in 3rd and 4th place in the MSA Class B and 10th and 11th overall in the MSA Championship
In the BTRDA Autotest Championship.Warrenis lying 3rd overall and Willie is in a safe 5th place in the Silver Star competition.Warren is leading the Bronze Star competition by one point from Toby Cook who in turn is only one point in front of Willie.
At this point in the season dropped scores start to have an impact on the final run in to the end of both championships. Unfortunately due to other commitments both our drivers will miss another event each before the end of the season. Having already elected to miss the furthest from home event and losing an event due to cancellation, the pressure is on for a strong finish on the last two events of the year.
Over the last four events the boys have made a massive breakthrough in terms of speed, if they can temper that new found speed with an increased level of consistency then the future looks bright.
Team manager Gordon Clendinning reckons that with some modifications to the cars, increased testing and training sessions over the winter the boys be right on the pace next season.
“Warren and Willie are already the best drivers inScotland. At the start of this season we were looking at gaining seconds on every test, now we are looking at tenths of a second improvements”
Next event is atBirminghamon the 3rd August with the season finale taking place at Loughborough on September 21st.