Report obtained from NI Autotest Championship Facebook
Stewartstown’s Stephen Ferguson got his 2020 autotest season off to a flying start, as he took the win at the first round of the McMillan Specialist Cars Autotest Championship. The Autotest Drivers Club hosted this event at the Loughry College, Cookstown on Saturday 7th March, in what could only be described as changing conditions, as the rain made it difficult for competitors and marshals. With 40 cars lining up to start, it was poised to be a day of stiff competition and proved to be so.
It was Sam Bowden who would set the fastest time on Test 1 in his Mini Saloon, with Paul Mooney in his Westfield 3.3 seconds behind. It would take six tests for Ferguson to find his feet and take the lead, after some early mechanical issues forced him to change his gearbox early on it the day.
Robin Lyons gave chase to Ferguson in the Mini Special Class but was unable to catch him, finishing 28 seconds behind the reigning NI champion, with James Wilson having to settle for third.
Paul Mooney took the class win in the Sports Car Class in his Westfield from Trevor Ferguson in his Stryker, with Paul Lowther taking third in this class.
Nine times NI Autotest Champion Sam Bowden would again make his presence known by taking the class win in the Mini Saloon, despite breaking a CV joint late in the day. Stewartstown’s Norman Ferguson who is currently sharing his car with Sam would take second in class, with Andrew Earney finishing in third place.
In the Large Saloon Class, Mark King in his Vauxhall Nova would set the pace from early on in the event, setting fastest times in the class on every test of the day. Andrew Blair would take second in the class finishing 36.6 seconds behind King, with championship sponsor George McMillan finishing in third place.
In the Championship Semi-Expert Class it would a Large Saloon Vauxhall Nova 1-2-3. Damian Mooney moved up from the Advanced Challenge to take the class win, with previous Clubman Challenge competitors Ben Colhoun and Gary Campbell taking second and third respectively. A great achievement for the two young and up-coming drivers who have only been competing for 3 seasons.
In the Clubman Challenge, Class A was won by Jack Gillis in his Vauxhall Nova, who also sealed the Overall Clubman win on this occasion. Second in Class A would go to Ian McCann with Jimmy Dougan in third, both also in their Nova Autotest Cars. Class B was won by Gordon Buckley in his Westfield, with Chris Patterson in second. The Class C winner was Jordan Burns in his Ford Fiesta, with Dessie Martin in his Toyota Starlet taking second. Class D was a battle of the Mazda MX-5’s, with Derek Harrison taking the win ahead of Harry Barr and Chris Nelson in third.
In the Advanced Challenge Gareth Dillon in his Mazda MX-5 would take the Class D win, as well as the overall win. Second in class would go to Liam Shaw and third to Robert Robinson. Class C winner was Harold Hassard in his Nissan Sunny with the Mini Clubman of Davy Boyce finishing second.
A great day was had by all, despite the weather conditions and a fantastic display of driving skills from all competitors made it enjoyable to watch by the many spectators who turned out to see all the thrills and spills the event had to offer.
Videos of Round 1 now available in our video section.
The boys now head to the next round of the championship being hosted by Dungannon Motor Club on Saturday 21st March, again at Loughry College, where the boys will battle it once more to see who will be fastest on the day. Entries for the this event are available via Rallyscore.