Thoughtless bunch these youngsters. They ruined my planned introduction. There was an Englishman, a Welshman, another Englishman, a Scot and a Northern Irishman in the top five places at the end of yesterday's www.usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Junior Rally. Somehow 'another Englishman' just doesn't fit the old joke opening line, eh.
Whatever, the event attracted a terrific entry of 27 cars and crews, plus two Formula 1000 crews, from all over the UK, and almost to a man (boy?) and girl, the event and venue was judged a huge success. That was down to the fact that unlike the more usual airfield or race circuit flat terrain the youngsters are used to, this one had hills and crests. It also had Route Notes so that the teenagers knew what lay beyond those crests and round those corners!
Now in his last year of Junior rallying, Alex Vassallo, with Michael Gilbey, dominated proceedings, fastest over each of the ten stages in their Citroen C1.
James Williams was second in his Peugeot 107 having survived an overshoot on Stage 3 and 15 year old Zak Hughes on his fifth ever rally was third in his Citroen C1. Only 7 seconds behind at the finish was the Toyota Aygo of top Scot Michael Robertson with Eoghan Bogue and Sam Bilham rounding off the top six.
The expected challenges from William Creighton failed to materialise when a driveshaft broke, Dylan O'Donnell's fuel pump failed, Brodie Balfour burst an engine mounting and Sebastian Perez parked his Micra in the middle of a big field - having cut a new access gateway through a barbed wire fence, which didn't do the paintwork any good!
As for the planned appearance of Jim McRae in a 1300cc Micra, that didn't happen. Jim turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed on Sunday morning, but the car was already on a trailer home. Young Harry Marchbank explained why later, but was being rather economical with the truth, when he described the incident as a "slow speed off into a ditch". That part was true, but it was the bit leading up to it and afterwards that he omitted to mention. Methinks he's spending too much time in the wrong company, or he has been given the 'Rally Driver 's Bumper Book of Excuses' for his 17th birthday.
More will be revealed in the main report in the on-line Mag shortly ...
1, Alex Vassallo / Michael Gilbey (Citroen C1) 53:19
2, James Williams / Kirsty Riddick (Peugeot 107) 55:03
3, Zak Hughes / Chris Evans (Citroen C1) 55:55
4, Michael Robertson / Phil Sandham (Toyota Aygo) 56:02
5, Eoghan Bogue / John Henderson (Nissan Micra) 56:26
6, Sam Bilham / Graham Wild (Nissan Micra) 56:34
7, Philip White / Richard Wardle (Nissan Micra) 56:45
8, Sandy Fairbairn / Callum Atkinson (Nissan Micra) 56:52
9, Peter Bennett / Arthur Kierans (Citroen C1) 57:08
10, Andy Struthers / Andrew Falconer (Nissan Micra) 57:56