Autotesting is low-budget Motorsport that can be entered by almost anyone. The tight course that makes up the test favours a car with good acceleration rather than top speed, with these speeds rarely exceeding 30 or 40mph. In order to achieve the best acceleration, cars used in the tests tend to be lightened in some way. This might be done by simply removing the unused seats and carpets or by going further and taking out non-structural components that are not required (headlights, mirrors, door trims etc.).
Autotests are usually laid out on level ground (carparks are often used), with cones or marker posts to negotiate as dictated by the route map (specified at the beginning of the event). The object of the test is to correctly complete the route as specified as quickly as possible. Striking course markers or taking wrong routes result in penalties added to your time.
The following is an example of an Autotest route map used during the Orkney Motor Club's 2007 season. Alongside is a video of one of the attempts at the test. You will need Flash installed to run this video, and an "above dialup-speed" internet connection is recommended.
John (in the above road-legal Mitsubishi Colt) is an experienced Autotest
competitor and has mastered the art of handling his 1600cc road-legal Mitsubishi
around the course.
Before the event begins, the days entering competitors are given the chance to “walk the course” in order to memorise the route. Then, following the running order of the day, the competitors take it in turns to attempt the test (against the stopwatch). Competitors have a copy of the route map they can check during the day, and most competitors choose to attach this to the dashboard of the car in a prominent location.
If a course marker is struck, 10 seconds are added to the test time and if a wrong-route is taken, 30 seconds are added.
It is generally accepted that the most important aspects of Autotesting are –
- To get the course right – a 30 second "wrong route" time penalty is a lot for a test that normally runs for only one or two minutes and could see competitors fall several positions in the day's results.
- Not to strike any course markers. – As with point 1, even a single 10 second penalty for hitting a cone could cost you a position (or more) in the final order.
- To drive the course as quickly as you are able to without compromising the above points 1 and 2.
- To enjoy the event - With experience will come improvements in driving and as one of the cheapest 4-wheel Motorsports available anywhere in the country it is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, without having to shell out on expensive equipement.
Remember, you do not need a driving licence to enter OMC Autotests (although you will be required to demonstrate competance in car control to the satisfaction of Officials) and you can enter the Orkney Motor Club’s Autotest events from your 15th birthday onwards. Rules and regulations apply to all competitors in Autotest, and you should make sure you comply with these before submitting an entry by contacting the Club. You must become a member before you can enter an event.