“I WAS delighted when GMP announced that the ORCi Stock Rod World Final was to be staged at the Racewall in September,” Michael Bethune commented, when our Cowdenbeath Racewall reporter met up with him.

“The last time they did I won it! I hope that it is an omen – a good one!”

Michael works at the family garage, EJB Autocare in Thornton, and told me: “Just now I have the cars stripped down with the one that I was using last season been re-panelled and painted and I am awaiting the sign writer to appear.

"My older car I was going to sell but all the parts on it are new, so I am going to get it ready rather than replace it. I have had both my engines rebuilt so at present I am on top of things.

“Last season was a good one with a lot of close and exciting racing although when the season started I just didn’t feel on top of things.

"I wasn’t getting the results that I felt I should have and felt a bit down. After a discussion with my dad, Eric, I began to spend more time on the car and things certainly improved. I like the race receivers which give you warning of shunts ahead and I reckon that they have managed to save me getting damage. The atmosphere in the pits is good and there is a lot of good natured banter going about.”

He added: “I went down to Northampton for the ORCi Championship. It’s the first time that I had raced my car on shale.

"I was using my shale car and in the heats I ended up with three second places. There seemed to be plenty of grip, mind you it was a dry day. I had managed to get into the lead but John McAllister was able to get my car unsettled and he slipped through to win. I thoroughly enjoyed my racing on shale where there turned out to be a lot more grip than I thought there would be.

“The next championship event of the season was the European Championship at the Racewall.

"Up to that point the car hadn’t been going all that well. I managed to qualify in fifth for the final. The car didn’t feel all that right when I took up my grid position there were a couple of race suspensions and I was lying second when the second started. The car just lost power and I retired with a fuel problem!

“Our next trip was to St. Day and it took us an age to get there. It’s a good track to race at and you always get a warm welcome from the Autospeed promotion. It was one of these meetings where I had to settle for fourth in the first heat due to wrong tyre choice but I got second in the other heat. In the British Championship Final I was in fourth behind Stuart McKinnon and then inherited third when he stripped a gear. I tried to make up ground on the leaders but was unable to do so and had to settle for third.”

“Nutt’s Corner was the next 'away' trip and that was for the World Championship. I hadn’t been across to Northern Ireland last year. The last time I was there was for the European in 2016 – I won that! The track had been partially resurfaced and I was fourth fastest in the time trials on Friday. In the race itself I didn’t really figure and ended up in ninth place.

"For the remainder of the meeting I radically changed the car's set up and got better results but on Sunday I snapped a cam pulley which bent the valves so we loaded up and headed home! We spent a lot of time trying to strip the tar off the tyres!”

Turning is eyes to the 'Scottish' Michael went on: “The race that every driver wants to win is the Scottish Championship and I have already won it but even so it’s still a high priority.

"The draw for the Scottish is a public one I drew thirteenth place. I had drawn the same position just a couple of weeks prior when the Jane Burt Memorial was run- thirteenth. James Gray was the defending champion but Stuart was to start from the third place on the grid.

"I put my foot down when the race started and made up a lot of ground. After a race suspension I went around the outside of Scott Galbraith and then a couple of laps later up the inside of Lee McGill. The car was running good and the track was dry and I could see that I was catching Stuart. When I did we ran nose to tail for a few laps then I saw a gap when Stuart drifted wide. I dived inside and we locked up and headed towards the wall.

I managed to break free and went on to win. I was really chuffed to win the race and I quickly got the sign writer in to get the Saltire on my roof.

“My win put me into contention for the track points championship and I was really enjoying my racing especially the banter in the pits. I thought about heading over to Nutts Corner at the end of the season but was quite glad that I didn’t. Stuart and Dean McGill did but they didn’t manage to race – the generator packed up so there was no floodlights and they just couldn’t get it repaired. A long trip for no points!”

Looking at a local event he said: “We had a meeting with the HRP drivers at the Racewall and there were a lot of cars in the pits.

"The racing was fast with a lot of good dicing. Our last meeting of the season was for the National Championship which had been scheduled to be run at Bristol but they cancelled and it came to the Racewall.

"The format was a reverse grid one and it was wet. I was well clear in the first race, which was also for the Simon Laing Memorial Trophy, but then there was a race suspension and after that it developed into a race between me and Stuart.

"I was quicker on the bends but he made up ground on the straights. With a couple of laps remaining he managed to get inside of me and we sort of headed to the wall. He managed to break clear and went through to win.

"I had a bent axle so we set about getting the car ready and the next thing Stuart is there helping us getting the car ready for the next race. I sat fourth in the National Championship but after David Philp Jnr and Cameron Doak crashed out I was second.

"Unfortunately during the incident I had clipped them and punctured my front tyre and that was that. Mind you I kept going and ended up in tenth place and three laps down. The track points went right to the last meeting, in fact to the last race and that is why I kept going. I figured that I needed to finish in eighth place to win the points.. James nipped through into second on the last bend of the race to win the points!”

Looking ahead Michael said: "Obviously my main target will be the World at the Racewall.

"I hope they run reverse grid heats to determine the grid for the World rather that time trials. I prefer that method but we will have to wait until closer to the day to find out.

"My next objective is to make it three Scottish Championship wins. I am determined to have a real challenge for that one. Whether I do a lot of travelling this year is in doubt just now. I have a young family and I have to take that into consideration now.

“I get a lot of help from my dad Eric, Craig and Derek Haxton and Stevie Burt to keep the car in top shape. Luckily I get sponsorship from EJB Autocare, Phil Harrison of Mac Tools, Trevor Harris-Paver Hire, Network Distribution, AVS Scotland, Lee Smart Racing, PC Joinery, BG Heating, Hillfoot Cleaning and Home Assists and Rocktech".