SMRC Season comes to thrilling climax

The final meeting of the year for the Scottish Motor Racing Club came to Knockhill this Sunday with five separate championships still to be decided  the closest contested championship was the Scottish Classic Sports & Saloons. The two top drivers in this class, Robert Marshall and Andrew Smith, were both tied on 434 points so there was everything to play for.

Scotland’s national motor-sport centre also played host to Indy Car legend Dario Franchitti who had brought along his own 1999 Raynard Honda IndyCar for the Scottish racing fans to see. Franchitti, originally from Bathgate in West Lothian, even had time to get behind the wheel and do some high-speed laps in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and show the small but excitable crowd some world class driving. The Indy Car champ and husband to film star Ashley Judd, had the pleasure of witnessing some of the best racing Scotland has to offer.

The highly anticipated meeting started off with a bang for the South Peak racing team when Shonny Paterson’s Triumph TR8 had an engine fire after being started up in the icy temperatures at the track. However the rapid response from team members Jean Vella and Dougie Campbell meant that there was relatively no damage to the tangerine Triumph. Although Paterson did not enter this years championship he was still one of the top drivers to beat, and reinforced this fact by qualifying in pole position with a lap time of 59.2 seconds despite the sub-zero weather  It was the first time this year Paterson had qualified 1st with the usually much lighter and quicker Morgan Plus 8 of Andrew Smith on the grid. Smith could only manage to qualify 2nd for the start of race.

Race 1 promised to be captivating from the off, with both Andrew Smith and Robert Marshall having had 100% winning records in their respective classes and were aiming to maintain that. Paterson got off to a poor start and dropped back to fourth behind last years championship winner Stan Bernard in his Porche 911 and Raymond Boyd in another Porche 911. With Smith now in first and an open track in front of him he was able to stretch his lead to 5 car lengths after the first lap. Despite Paterson’s poor start he used his all of his 3.9 litre power to push his way back up to second leaving the rest of the field in his dust. However the light and nimble Morgan denied the TR8 from climbing in to the number one seat which allowed Smith to keep his 100% season win record. Marshall who finished in 5th overall also managed to maintain his 100% class win record due to his brother John Marshall retiring in his MK1 Escort.

After some impressive driving in the first race it was time for the final race of the day, with the grid arranged in their finishing positions from race one it looked like Smith was a sure winner. Smith lead from the off as predicted but Paterson was not for giving up without a fight. The Argyll man’s outstanding driving, taking the TR8 to the max, was rewarded with an ambitious overtake coming out of the hairpin and for a few seconds Paterson had the lead, but the Morgan came storming back along the straight and stole the number 1 spot back. With only a handful of laps left another engine issue struck the TR8 when the cockpit started to fill with toxic fumes and was forced to drop 6 car lengths behind the Morgan but maintain it’s lead over the rest of the field and finish the race. The final race of the season was over and both Smith and Marshall finished with incredible seasons, both maintaining their 100% race winning records.

For the first time in years the Classic sports and saloons had joint champions, Robert Marshall and Andrew Smith both tied on 484 points, both drivers have been driving superbly throughout the season and this was reflected in the final standings. The driver of the day was awarded Shonny Paterson for his outstanding performance and courageous driving throughout the day (no team bias at all!). Paterson commented on his award,

“The car was on top form today and so was my driving! We had a difficult start to the day with the engine fire but I would to thank my team for their quick reactions to put it out, without them I might even have a car right now never mind driver the driver of the day trophy! I want to thank my beautiful wife Fi and my gorgeous children Coll and Tilly for their unwavering support in everything I do, and I also want thank to my sister and her family for her support throughout my racing career here at Kncokhill and throughout the country!”

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