Titles won and Champions prevail in SMRC title showdown

The SMRC season came to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday 6th October, an event that saw six Scottish Championship classes decided by the final races of the season. The event also welcomed a stunning array of supercars, ahead of proposed large-scale supercar invasion next year.

A bumper crowd came out for the season finale, and for the most part, to see the stunning British GT Championship Aston Martin GT3 of Phil Dryburgh; who’d set his sights on the out-right Saloons and Sports Car Lap Record. Early signs were good that the 49.979second record were within the Aston’s grasp, with Phil posting a 50.3second lap during Saturday’s SMRC testing session. Sunday’s raceday would afford Dryburgh more space on track during two Scottish Saloons and Sports Car race appearances. Predictably, the Aston Martin cantered to two race wins, crossing the finishing line almost 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rivals, but failing to improve on that testing time with a 50.497 second effort the best of the day. Stewart Whyte in his ex-Tom Kristensen Super Touring Honda secured two maiden SMRC podiums, finishing both races behind the GT3 charger. Warren Dunbar and Paul Brydon shared the other podium scores on the day.

Elsewhere in the Saloons and Sports Car Championship, Andrew Morrision had already claimed the title before the weekend, although there were still some individual class honours at stake, giving a competitive edge to the racing. Charlie Shaw’s Ford Focus made a surprise late entry – perhaps to go head-to-head with the Aston Martin – Charlie does like a challenge and fans were eager to see who would triumph over the weekend. Things were extremely tight in qualifying with Shaw just 0.231secs off Dryburgh’s fastest qualifying time; but, misfire problems throughout the day, robbed race fans of a sensational battle between the duo. Although, Shaw did forfeit his race, slowing down on the final lap so that he and Dryburgh could at least battle for a few corners… and the winner?

“I think Charlie has the advantage in respect to horse-power. He blazed past me on the back straight during qualifying, but, the Aston’s overall package and braking give it a significant advantage over a full lap,” concluded Dryburgh.

Knockhill would like to thank Phil for bringing his machine to Knockhill for the SMRC season finale, and for giving fans a chance to see the GT Championship car in full flight. It certainly was, well worth, the admission fee alone.

The first Championship wrapped up on the day, came when Classic Sports and Saloons competitor Raymond Boyd secured the title by winning the first race of the day. Over the course of the season, Boyd took 13 class race wins from 14 outings in 2014, a sterling effort behind the wheel of his Porsche 911 sports car. The other race winner on the day was Harry Simpson with Keiron Baillie taking a couple of 3rd placed podium finishes. An emotional Boyd talked to Knockhill FM after his title win and had this to say:

“It’s been four years in the making, it’s just magic. I have to thank all those people who have stuck by me throughout all those years. To finally win it is just mega.”

Interestingly, to a man, all of Boyd’s Championship rivals were unanimous in praise for the Stirling racer, all claiming that he thoroughly deserved his title success.

Wayne Macaulay had already secured the Peoples Ford Fiesta ST Championship for 2014, however, the return of 2013 Champ, George Orr, gave a competitive edge to the final races of the season, with Macaulay keen to cement his status as best Fiesta driver. Despite two hard fought battles, it was Orr who would take both race wins on the day; with Macaulay 2nd on both occasions and Blair Murdoch finishing 3rd on both occasions. We highlighted Martha Aitken during the week, with the 23 year old Rally driver making her car racing debut this weekend. Two races later, and two top ten finishes, will no doubt give the Perth racer the perfect boost in confidence heading to a Ladies-Only event at Silverstone in November.

Elsewhere in the Peoples Ford Fiesta Championship, the XR2 series went down to the final race of the season. Championship leader heading into the weekend, Steven Gray had a 19 point cushion at the top of the standings, but had to play second fiddle to Championship rival Hamish Smart in the day’s opening encounter, finishing the race second behind his Edinburgh based rival. Gray could have settled for the same result in the next encounter, but chose to fight for the win, wrapping the Championship win up in style with his 7th race win at Knockhill in 2014.

The Legends Championship headed into the weekend as one of the most difficult to predict; with a four-way challenge for the title set to ensue over three Championship-deciding races. As always, the action was fast and frantic, and whilst others got caught up in the furore of the pressure-cooker type scenario; Motherwell racer, John Paterson kept his cool to claim three race wins and a PEFECT 600 point haul to secure him the 2014 Legends title win. His Championship rivals Paul O’Brien, David Hunter and Duncan Vincent will no-doubt spend some time pondering what might have been and Paterson was equally magnanimous on his Championship win:

“It’s just pure relief to have won it. There’s no joy, just relief. It could have easily been one of the other guys standing here, the competition has been that close between this season; fortunately things just fell my way this weekend.”

Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup fans were treated to three action-packed encounters at the weekend. After Kenny Thirlwall added another Mini Cooper Cup title win to his ever-growing collection of Scottish Championship wins, the racing hit top gear; with race after race providing compelling action for spectators. Indeed, there probably hasn’t been a trio of races quite as close in recent SMRC history, with less than a second separating, at least, the top five competitors in each race. 0.8, 0.1 and 0.3 seconds were the winning margins in each race, with Thirlwall, Tanner and Mortimer claiming the wins. Kyle Reid bagged himself a trio of podium finishes (3rd), whilst David Sleigh waded in with a solitary effort of his own (2nd), and Hannah Chapman (5th, 6th, and 7th) claimed her best results of the season.

In the Scottish BMW Compact Cup, Alan Kirkaldy added another title win to his impressive trophy cabinet that includes two Scottish Formula Ford title wins, a BRISCA Scottish and BRISCA British F2 title win and his 2013 Scottish BMW Compact Cup success. Kirkaldy knew heading into the weekend that two good points-scoring finishes would have been enough for him to take the title. But, the St. Andrews racer made doubly sure following his seventh race win at Knockhill this year; with Kirkaldy’s main title rival, Steven Dailly, applauding him over the finishing line; as he followed home in 2nd place. Dailly, did manage to take the second race win of the day and will surely be looking forward to pushing for Championship honours next year.

Finally, Knockhill witnessed a unique piece of motorsport history at the weekend; as Ciaran Haggerty became the youngest ever winner of the SMRC organised Formula Ford 1600 Championship. The 18 year old has been hugely impressive in only his second full season on the Scottish Motor Racing scene.

Haggerty helped himself to 11 straight wins aboard his Border Reivers / Graham Brunton Racing Ray GR14 this season, including a brace at the weekend to warp up the 2014 title. Haggerty’s season, could reach stellar proportions with a Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes appearance looming on the horizon – two of the biggest open-wheel races in the UK – with the likes of Jenson Button, Jonny Herbert and Eddie Irvine just a few of their former winners.

Haggerty’s Scottish FF rival, Jordan Grownkowski knew heading into the weekend he’d have to pull something special out-of-the-bag to be in with a shout of the title. But, an impressive battling performance from Adam MacKay made a tough job, even tougher. MacKay, also in his teens, helped himself to two 2nd place finishes, piping Gronkowski into 3rd on both occasions. Those podiums, also wrapped up the Newcomers Cup for MacKay and a 3rd place Championship finish behind Gronkowski and Haggerty.

Knockhill Events Director, Stuart Gray said:

“It’s hard to believe that the season is over already. We’ve seen some remarkable race days at Knockhill this year and seen some cracking young talent emerge.

“I’m looking forward to an even more competitive season next year. I’d also like to pass on my sincere thanks to all those who give their time freely to ensure we can enjoy racing events like we have seen this year!”

For a full gallery of images from the racing, see the Power-Images website.

For full reaction to the weekend’s events, check out the SMRC website, and for race results see MyLaps or SMART Timing.

See you all in 2015!!