The Year in Review: Speed, Trials, Autotest and Drift

Saturday 30 December 2023

This season has seen Motorsport UK’s many Championships deliver top-class competition and plenty of dramatic action across the board, from trials and hillclimbs to Sprints and Drifting.

British Autotest Championship

Alastair Moffatt had yet another successful year in his Mini Special, leading from the first round to win a record-breaking ninth title. He had competition for the overall title from Willie Keaning, in his Striker sportscar, and Richard Pinkney, also in the sportscar class, who was a potential contender, but who did not complete the full season. Moffatt was the clear winner in the Specials class, while Dave Mosey won the Large Saloon class, having been run close by Warren Gillespie. Keaning beat Christopher Chapman to the Sportscars crown, and Cameron Pinkney was the only Junior driver in the field. Events were held nationwide – from Herefordshire to Scotland, combining a mixture of tight, technical tests and fast sweeping manoeuvres that allowed the competitors to make their own mistakes. A return to the Coventry Motofest in the city centre in June brought action to the people and drew in the crowds. Next season begins at Curborough in March.

British Sporting Car Trials Championship

A competitive season saw eight different winning drivers through 18 events, with the best 10 counting towards the championship. Thomas Bricknell secured the title with a consistent performance that saw him take maximum points in six events and second in five. Stuart Beare and Richard Sharp started well, winning the first and second trials, but four consecutive wins before the summer break put Bricknell in control and consistent scoring, including wins at the David Ayres and Roy Fedden Trials, kept his points tally out of reach. Bob Packham topped the Live Axle classes, winning four events to take a clear advantage into the final rounds after Matt Sharp, who finished runner-up, took himself out of the class when he bought an independent car in the summer.

Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship

The Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship touched down at five venues in 2023 for an eight-round series alongside Time Attack, the Honda Racing Championship and numerous tuning car shows.

The nation’s top drifting talent put on a show at each venue for visiting fans and it was Lwi Edwards who shone consistently throughout the championship. In his Bilstein E36, Edwards came out on top four times throughout the championship.

His first victory came at Cadwell Park over Martin Richards with his second come at Brands Hatch over Axel Hildebrand.

Two victories in a row at Donington Park over Oliver Evans and Brands Hatch against Martin Evans sealed the deal for Edwards.

Richards finished the season in second with Dave Bastin completing the podium.

British Car Trial Championship

There was a new name at the top this year as father and son pairing Tim and Charlie Dovey stepped up from regional racing to take on the national challenge. Tim ended the season as the outright winner, while Charlie secured top Junior spot. The season started in North Wales in April with past Champion Rupert North driving his Suzuki Alto to a double victory on a rocky and deeply muddy course. The next event at Ivinghoe, however, was smoother and drier, and on the narrow, tight hills Tim Dovey used the nimbleness of his two-litre Clio Sport to claim his first win of the season. A double-header in Somerset saw Tim Dovey and past Champion Barrie Parker share the spoils, setting a pattern that would continue through the remaining rounds in Telford, Ross on Wye, Yorkshire, and Wales. At the final round in Bridgnorth, the WSSCC Gaby Mohr Trial, Tim Dovey consolidated his championship lead with an outright win ahead of Parker in second. The 2024 championship is likely to follow a similar format, but with a modified class structure to include a wider range of cars and stages of modification.

British Hillclimb Championship Wallace Menzies secured his fourth title in another classic season, becoming a member of a very exclusive club and joining Ken Wharton (1951-54) as the winner of four consecutive Championship victories. Twelve run-off wins, with new outright records at both Val des Terres in Guernsey, and Wiscombe Park, showed Wallace’s class. It was a fantastic result for Wallace and his team, ably led by Crew Chief Tom New, considering a car-damaging accident at Shelsley Walsh in August. The team pulled together to deliver a huge repair job and enabled him to finish the season and secure the title. Wallace’s closest challenger, Scott Moran, finished with a flourish, taking two hard-earned victories at Prescott at the start of September and ending up with eight run-off victories in total in his Judd-engined Gould GR59J. Matt Ryder had an excellent second full season in big single seaters, driving the Gould GR59J he shares with constructor Sean Gould, to secure five run-off victories and third place overall, ahead perhaps, of a title challenge in 2024

SBD HSA British Sprint Championship After a season that comprised 41 run offs on nine different racing circuits, with the best 18 scores counting towards the title, the championship battle came down to the final days of competition at Castle Combe. Pete Goulding and Graham Blackwell, both driving 1.6T modified Mygale Ecoboosts, were kept on their toes by Steve Miles in a 2.0 Van Diemen all season, and heading into the final run, Goulding had 443 points with Blackwell just a single point behind. The pressure may have got to Goulding, as he forgot to correctly fuel for the 3.3 miles of the Wiltshire circuit when it counted, but despite a splutter out of the last chicane, he took the win by 0.18 seconds to secure the title. Outside of the top three, the season also saw run-off wins from a wide range of drivers and cars. Simon Bainbridge kicked off at Cadwell in March winning in the wet in his 750bhp Sports Libre, and then won again at Kirkistown and Pembrey. Last year’s champion Matt Hillam was now in a 1.4 DJ shared with Steve Broughton, and the two took several run-offs between them. Chris Jones notched up wins at Pembrey and Lydden, in a 1.0 Force TA, while John Loudon joined the club at Blyton, putting his 1.1 Force ahead of the rest. A one-off appearance by Stewart Robb in a 5.0 Pilbeam showed he had not lost his touch, while Alex Summers secured an impressive four wins at Anglesey in his self-built 2.5 P4t.

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