A ROYAL Navy sailor based at HMNB Clyde has proved that he’s a dab hand on the racetrack as well as on the ocean wave.

Gary Taylor finished second in the Scottish Motor Racing Club’s Fiesta XR2 championship – in his debut year as a driver – as part of the O’Neill Racing 66 team who took the top two places in the championship, with team founder and owner Duncan O’Neill building on his second place in 2018 to win the title this time round.

Taylor had been a member of the team’s pit-lane crew in 2018, working as a mechanic, but was so impressed by what he saw that he decided to take the plunge by getting behind the wheel of a second O’Neill Racing XR2.

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Team boss O’Neill, from Bonhill, who took seven wins, two second places and a third in the 15-round series, racing as part of the Scottish Classic Sports and Saloons Championship, said: “It has been a very challenging year with a lot of work going on behind the scenes in order to keep the cars in top condition.

“We decided at the start of the year to run another car. Gary Taylor was eager to give his presence to the Knockhill circuit, and as a team, we all pulled together and managed to have the four cars in race condition in time for the first meeting.

“Since then a lot of long hours and cups of tea were put in, along with sorting out some engine issues. The cars are now more than 30 years old so you have to look over everything time and time again to make sure they don’t let you down.

“It was great to see Gary take second in the championship. That’s an O’Neill Racing one and two, so a massive thanks to the team.”

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The team also allowed motor racing vlogger Glenn Alcock to take the wheel of a further XR2 for a tribute race in memory of the 2018 XR2 champion, Martin Ramsey, who passed away in September after a long battle with illness.

O’Neill also paid tribute to the sponsors, from the local area and beyond, who helped fund the team’s efforts during the year, including Lomond Tyres and Autocare, Weee Scotland Recycling, PWL Valeting and Detailing Services, Diamond-Glow Handcar Wash, and Lennox Motor Factors.

He added: “For the future we are hoping to continue on the success of this year. We have more cars within the wee clan.

"We also have a lot more exposure from having guest drivers partake in some of the races, which is not only great promotion for our sponsors but for the team and the sport. I imagine this will happen again next year.

“We are aiming to go down to England to run a few races and so with the help of our sponsors and team we can make next year an O’Neill Racing 1, 2 and 3.”

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