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IMG_2239A group of 27 Junior 1000 rally crews gathered near Kircudbright on 10th August 2014  for a very historic motorsport event – the “usedcarparts Solway Coast Junior Rally”. This would  be the first time that competitors from all 3 UK national Junior 1000 Rally Championships would compete on the same event. 40 miles over the military range roads of the Kircudbright Training Area would present a real challenge for the young drivers aged 14 to 17 years and on the 10th August they also had the tail end of ex-hurricane Bertha to contend with. Overnight rain had soaked the venue and left lots of standing water. And the rain continued to come and go during the day. But that did not suppress the enthusiasm of the youngsters and after 40 tough miles of driving, 17 of the 27 Junior starters crossed the finish line. Of the 10 who did not make it, 3 had minor “skirmishes”  with the scenery and 7 encountered mechanical problems.

Star of the day in first place overall  and heading home the drivers registered in the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge was Alex Vassallo (16) in his Citroen C1 with Michael Gilbey co-driving. Vassallo, who is in his third and final year of the Junior 1000 Championship has been a star performer since joining in 2012 at the age of 14. He came out of the first waterlogged stage on Sunday with a 20 second lead over his nearest rival and went on to build on this lead over the next 9 stages to complete the day 1 minute 44 seconds ahead of  the rest of the field. An absolutely splendid performance.

Second Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge crew home were Michael Robertson (17) and Phil Sandham in their Toyota Aygo. Reporting no major issues during the day, they recorded their best result so far in the Championship. Robertson has been third on 2 of the earlier Championship rounds. They will now move into a strong second place overall in the Championship.

And finally, in third Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge place, delivering the promise he has shown since joining the Championship in 2013, was Sandy Fairbairn (17) in his Nissan Micra. He was accompanied by experienced and front running Scottish Rally Championship driver Callum Atkinson. But their day was not without drama. They returned to the pits from the first group of 2 stages with a rear shock absorber punched through into the boot area. But Sandy and Dad Warren soon had the Micra returned to full strength in a very short time. Sandy is a lad who loves wet and slippery conditions having done a lot of his training on ice lakes in Sweden.

And the conclusion from everybody involved with the event was “What an amazing experience”. And to remind the prize winners that they won in Scotland on the first “UK Nations Junior Challenge”, each was presented with a small supply of Tunnocks products to munch on the way home.

The next round of the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge will be at Knockhill on 30th August 2014.

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