AFTER five years away from motorsport, Iain ‘Shonny’ Paterson might not have been expecting great things when he drove his Triumph TR7 on to the tight and twisty confines of Knockhill on Sunday morning.

But proof that he’s lost none of his racecraft was provided in style in the latest Scottish Motor Racing Club (SMRC) race meeting as Shonny steered his eye-catching bright orange machine to a superb third place on the grid in qualifying.

It was a position he maintained until the chequered flag fell to end the first of the day’s two Classic Sports and Saloons series races at the Fife circuit.

These days the Arrochar racer has rather more on his plate than he did when he last competed in the series back in 2014 – as well as being a long-serving member of the village’s mountain rescue team, he was elected two years ago as one of the three Argyll and Bute councillors for the Lomond North area, stretching from Arrochar and Tarbet in the north to Cove and Kilcreggan in the south.

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But the driving force behind his return to competitive motorsport had nothing to do with seeking any form of respite from the rough-and-tumble of local politics.

Shonny said: “I decided to get racing again in memory of my dear father, Charlie, whose birthday fell on race day, September 1.

“I qualified the car third on the grid in a field of 14 cars, which I was really pleased with after such a long absence.

“In race one I got off to a great start and was challenging for second position when the race was stopped due to an accident.

“When it was restarted, and reduced to eight laps, I consolidated third place as my rear tyres started to go off after lap five.”

Sadly, after making a series of tweaks to the car ahead of the second race of the day, Shonny’s hopes were dashed when the Triumph’s driveshaft broke on the first lap at the track’s tightest corner, the hairpin.

But his quick return to form after such a long absence already has Shonny - and the family, friends and supporters who backed his return to action - eager for more in the final SMRC race meeting of the season.

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That will be held back at Knockhill next month, when the Classic Sports and Saloons will again share the bill with a huge variety of machines, from Mini Coopers and Citroen C1s to the quirky Legends - five-eighths size replicas of US sedans from the 1930s and 1940s - and open-wheel Formula Fords.

And Shonny is keen to stress that the man behind the wheel is very much just one cog in a much larger machine comprising family, friends and supporters – many of whom were present at Knockhill.

“The bodyshell of the car was prepared by another motorsport enthusiast, Findlay Cameron Auto Repairs of Inveraray, in his own time and at no cost, who made a first class job of the paint and bodyshell preparation,” he continued, “and the engine is a V8 built by Brayon Engineering, who are based at Arden.

“My niece Annie Butterworth was excellent looking after the car on the day, and is a fine racer herself, who has won races in the BMW Compact Cup events at Knockhill this year.

“My son and daughter, Coll and Tilly, were there with their infectious humour and mischief, and Lachlan O’Neill, a friend of my son and of the family and a car enthusiast, marshalled his team to keep the car clean and tidy.

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“My sister Tine Butterworth was there giving me encouragement and advice, as were our friends, Ian and Jean Mustarde, and their children Ella and Findlay, who helped with looking after the car and with the dismantling of the marquee and equipment.

“My wife Fiona has supported me 100 per cent in returning to racing, and has actively encouraged me to do so – I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

“And my mother Nora has always been so encouraging in all my motorsport – I know she misses my dad every day, as we all do, but his memory will always live on.”

Shonny now hopes to attract the support of current and new sponsors in a bid to do a full season in the championship next year.

“My next outing is at Knockhill on October 6,” he added, “and I’m really looking forward to it.”