On Saturday afternoon 5th August, Junior 1000 drivers and teams from all over the UK started arriving at Dundrennan MOD Base, Kirkcudbright in glorious sunshine for the 2017 usedcarparts Solway Coast Junior Rally. Everybody parked up in an area just outside the venue to allow the “senior” Saturday event to finish. Everybody gathered together in the service area hanger at 5pm for a briefing from Bill Sturrock of Scotmaps on the “special features” of the venue and the route notes that crews would be provided with. This event is unique in the annual Junior 1000 calendar as it is the only time that all UK Junior 1000 Championships get together and the only one where the crews are allowed to use organiser’s route notes. When Bill had finished and answered all the questions, we moved on to a Rally Forum. Unfortunately our “panel of experts” was reduced to 2 at this point due to a couple of people being involved in the running of the senior event. But we stormed ahead with Sam Bilham and Georgia Shiels on the subject - “Life after Junior 1000”. The “appreciative” audience stuck with us and we hope did get something out of the session – the minimum message being - “It is a big world out there and opportunities do exist if you grab them with both hands”
Sunday dawned good but the local “weather forecasters” were predicting doom later in the day. How right they were! 24 Junior 1000 cars (8 from the Ecosse Challenge, 12 from the F1000 J1000 Championship and 4 from Ireland) lined up for stage 1 and everything went well for the first 4 stages. A continued battle for supremacy carried over from the last round of the Ecosse Challenge Championship at Crail in June when Ewan Tindall/Paul Hudson (Citroen C1) took the victory from Jude MacDonald/Michael Cruickshank (Seat Citigo) on a tie break. At the end of stage 2, MacDonald had a 4 second advantage over Tindall. After stage 4, Tindall had pulled the 4 seconds back to tie with MacDonald. But everything changed for stage 5. The predicted rain started to fall during the break between stages 4 and 5 and by the time the Juniors were ready to start it was pelting down. The first 2 cars got through ok but conditions were horrible with standing water and puddles. But Tindall got the better run and opened up a 4 second advantage over MacDonald. But disaster struck when car 3 – Johnnie Mackay/ Steven Hay (Suzuki Alto) from the Ecosse Challenge aquaplaned sideways off the road with the car ending up down a bank lodged against a large bush on the co-driver’s side. Due to the position of the car and not knowing if Hay was injured or not, the rescue was difficult and lengthy. MacKay was not injured and Hay was taken to hospital for precautionary checks but discharged a couple of hours later with a bit of sticky tape on a small cut on his pinkie!!! This was a major incident and everybody worked closely together to bring it safely to a conclusion.
The rain had subsided but standing water was an issue. The decision from the organisers was that the stage where the incident occurred – which was to be used in parts over the next 3 stage - was too demanding and risky for the young drivers. The only answer was to run one more stage over a different route that was examined by safety officials and deemed safe to run and after consulting with all the crews, the decision was taken to do that. All crews were nervous but everybody drove sensibly and got through safely. At the front, MacDonald was 3 seconds up on Tindall but it wasn’t enough, so Tindall took the victory by 1 second. Another great result for Tindall who is enjoying a terrific run of first places and another disappointing outcome for MacDonald.
Lewis Haining/George Myatt (Toyota Aygo) were third Ecosse Challenge crew home after a trouble free day, and they were followed by 4th placed Ecosse Challenge team of Andrew Blackwood/Gordon Winning (both crew members were still euphoric after “chilling out” with Stig Blomquist – in Andrew’s Dad’s Ford RS200 – and Ari Vatenan, at the Ignition Show the previous day) Amy Mccubbin - breaking in a “new” co-driver Robin Nicholson – in her as always immaculate blue Skoda Citigo finished 5th placed Ecosse Challenge crew followed by Alice Paterson/Ian Crosbie (Peugeot 107) as 6th placed Ecosse Challenge crew. Alice’s times on the runway type of events have been improving all year but Dundrennan is a daunting place and Dad heaved a huge sigh of relief when the wee black and green Peugeot 107 appeared over the finish line.
Twenty of the 24 starters finished the rally. Non finishers were Johnnie Mackay/Steven Hay (J1000 EC); Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (F1000); Marcus McElwee/John Henderson (Irish J1000) and Peter Beaton (Irish J1000 and J1000 EC)
The prize giving was a complicated affair!!! Competitors were scoring in 3 different Championships – the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge, the F1000 J1000 Championship and the Irish Junior 1000 Rally Challenge - and some were scoring in more than one. Tindall currently leads the F1000 Championship and the Ecosse Challenge Championship and he added to his points tally in both Championships. Tom Llewellin/Richard Crozier (Peugeot 107) finished 3rd overall and took runner up spot in the F1000 Championship. Fourth overall and taking first place in the Irish Championship and third in the F1000 were Sam Adams/Andrew Bushe (Skoda Citigo) Not a bad weekend’s work from this team. Adams/Bushe won the Junior rally in N Ireland on the Saturday, took the ferry over to Scotland on Saturday evening and left with a load of silverware and special Tunnocks goodies to eat on the ferry home on Sunday. Finishing 10th overall on his home event and 3rd in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge was Lewis Haining/George Myatt (Toyota Aygo). Finishing 15th overall and 2nd in the Irish Junior 1000 Rally Challenge was Rory Byrne/Paul Gallagher (VW UP).
Next outing for the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge will be the Albar Kames Junior Rally on 24th September 2017