British Autotest Championship – A Tale Of Two Halves
The Welsh COVID-19 restrictions were dealt with by Knutsford and District Motor Club in an ingenious manner, as befits the man after whom the event is named. They split the entry into two halves, and ran one part in the morning, and then a completely different set of competitors in the afternoon, thereby meeting the restrictions on numbers of people on site. The move could have caused problems if the weather had changed dramatically during the day, but the sun shone and clear blue skies were overhead all day.
A bumper entry of 28 cars were conveniently split between the sports cars and specials, and the saloons and road going cars, with the sports cars and specials competing in the morning. Championship leaders Paul Swift (Mini Special) and Malcolm Livingston (Lindsay Special) were in this group, together with Dave Mosey (Mini Special) and Chris Chapman (Striker 1700), who were unlikely to influence the championship outcome. Such was the pace set by the two leaders, trading fastest times with each other, that Mosey, Chapman, Dave Evans (Blitz Special 2000) and Willie Keaning (Striker 1800) were the only ones to challenge for fastest test times all day.
Livingston had established a small 7 second advantage over Swift by test 8, when Swift broke a driveshaft on the Mini Special, incurring a 20 second penalty, the end of his challenge? Not at all, the shaft was quickly changed, and the remaining 4 tests attacked. Swift was just 2 seconds quicker than Livingston, but the 20 second penalty proved too much, especially when a flying Evans, Mosey, Keaning and Chapman held their pace throughout.
And what of the saloons? Theirs was no less a frantic afternoon, with last week’s star performer Dave Fox (Mini 1600) being constantly challenged by youngster Charlie Lower (Mini 1380), never being more than a few seconds apart, except when Fox incurred a 20 second penalty! Fox then put his head down and charged over the second half of the afternoon to win the class by just 5 seconds. The bigger saloons suffered some mechanical maladies all afternoon, and were a little more spread out, with Chris Morrison (Nova 1400) emerging almost 80 seconds ahead of Joal Conlan (Nova 1400) who won the novice award in the process, with Luke Saddington (Nova 1600) a further 12 seconds behind.
The road going saloons found the championship tests particularly challenging, but their times improved during the afternoon, with Steve Johnson’s much used Nissan Micra finishing nearly 30 seconds ahead of John Fox’s Mini, and another minute in front of the Seat Ibiza.
The results remain provisional because of the split in the entry, and will become final later in the week, and will reflect a remarkable end to the foreshortened championship.
1st Malcolm Livingston Lindsay Special 1600 544-0
2nd Dave Evans Blitz Special 2000 553-4
3rd Dave Mosey Mini Special 1430 555-4
4th Willie Keaning Striker 1600 561-2
5th Chris Chapman Striker 1700 563-9
Motorsport UK British Autotest Championship Scores:
1st Malcolm Livingston Lindsay Special 1600 116 pts
2nd Paul Swift Mini Special 1400 110
3rd Dave Mosey Mini Special 1430 104
4th Chris Chapman Striker 1700 98
5th Charlie Lower Mini 1380 88