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Gold Cup comes home to Caithness

By Jean Gunn

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A LOCAL car enthusiastic has won the much coveted RS Owners Club (RSOC) Gold Cup – the first time this award is believed to have come north of Aberdeen.

Fifty-year-old John Mowat, a driving instructor, of Westfield, Thurso, said: "I'm just over the moon. I'm delighted, it has been a lot of hard work and a lot of expense."

Along the way John has clocked up around 7,000 miles travelling the length and breadth of the UK attending different car shows with his wife Nicola, also a driving instructor, keeping him company and sharing the driving.

John bought the white Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 back in 1989 – 30 years ago – when it had 11,000 miles on the clock. He ran the 1986 model until 1994 when he took it off the road for the winter.

He explained that the car had remained off the road for about 20 years until he decided in 2017 to take it back to the bare shell and build it back up with the help of Johnny Miller, of Tannach, and J & G Sutherland Ltd, Halkirk.

In all the couple attended seven RS Owners Club regional days with the car getting a first in its concours class at each of those events.

The winning car at one of the regional shows held by the RS Owners Club.
The winning car at one of the regional shows held by the RS Owners Club.

They travelled to their first regional event in Stonehaven in May, progressing to competitions at Knockhill, Cumbria, Castle Combe Race Circuit, Wiltshire, Croft Race Circuit, North Yorkshire, and the final one they took part in was held at Northampton on September 8.

Fuelled by success the couple also travelled down to the RSOC national day at Donington Park on August 25, where once again their RS took the top prize in its class.

John, originally from the Dornoch area, said: "The car picked up car of the day for two shows and two cups for best presented RS of the day, as well as a memorial shield."

The Caithness-based RS, which has original tyres, plug leads and exhaust, also received prizes for the furthest travelled entry at some of the shows.

Commenting on the Gold Cup points system, John explained that only the best six results for each car were counted from the regional shows with a top score of 900 points possible at individual events - a maximum total of 5400 points.

He said: "I missed out on an overall Gold Cup by 3.4 points."

An overall Gold Cup is presented to the car with the best results throughout the season irrespective of class.

With only 54,000 on the clock and a full MOT history, John's faithful white RS is not driven on the road nowadays.

Because the car was transported by trailer to the competitions it had to go straight in at expert level, the highest category held at the regional days.

The concours log book which records the results from each show.
The concours log book which records the results from each show.

The proud owner said: "This was my first year showing, and to go in and win an expert class was an achievement. As far as I know, I am the only person to win a Gold Cup north of Aberdeen.

"It is something I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted to go to a national day just for a look, but I managed to compete in it."

John, who has always had a passion for RS cars, has also taken part in local vintage shows, and took his Ford Escort to an event in Tain early this summer, while more recently he came third out of 800 cars when he took part in the first Aberdeen Performance Car Show, which was held in the city's new event complex at the end of September.

Every year the RSOC run a series of concours competitions at regional shows across the country to allow members to show off their cars.

Concours entries are described as "good show and shine" cars with perfection being the target. All cars are judged on condition and cleanliness.

They need to be free from dirt inside and out, with points lost for such things as dust, and the engine bay also comes under scrutiny. Points can also be gained for originality.

Competitors need to have a concours log book which records the results from each show and provides a blank judging sheet giving owners an idea of the areas they will be judged on.

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