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The long winter break for participants in the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge is almost over and engines will be fired up for the first round on 19th March 2016. The first round is a double first because it is the first time the venue has been used for a stage rally. Members of Glenrothes Motor Sport Club have worked with the MOD to get the use of the runways and perimeter roads of Condor Base near Arbroath. The event name is The Memorial Garden Junior Stages Rally.  45 Commando Marines are based at Condor, Arbroath and the memorial gardens acts as a memorial to show respect, recognise and praise their courage. Plus it has become the central memorial place for wounded soldiers or those who had lost their lives.

15 crews have been attracted to the 2016 Championship and 13 will be competing on the first event. Of the 13, 9 will be returning from 2015 and 4 will be newcomers doing their very first rally.

First car away will be Finlay Retson (Blairgowrie) and Andrew Falconer (Inverness) who  will be looking to go one better than the second place they scored in the 2015 Championship. They are returning with the same Citroen C1 that they used in 2015. The team went down South on Sunday 13th March for a “wee pre season test” on the first round of the Kick Energy J1000 Championship and came home with an outright win. Great start and no doubt Retson will have “his tail in the air”!!

They will be followed by young charger from 2015 – Harry Chalmers (Alford) with co-driver Steven Hay (Glenrothes) beside him. Unfortunately Chalmers returned from the final event in 2015 with a bent car after ending up on their roof. The decision was taken not to repair the trusty Nissan Micra but to take a leap into the unknown with a Volkswagon UP! The car will be a very late completion project when it starts in Arbroath when it could be the first time that Chalmers drives it.

Ewan Tindall (Ryton, Tyne and Wear) and Paul Hudson (Darlington) will be next up and here we have another driver – in only his second year – who also scored a brilliant 3rd place on the same Kick Energy J1000 event as Retson. They will also be in their usual Citroen C1.

Two more second year drivers follow on in fourth and fifth place – Jude MacDonald (Inverness)/Michael Cruickshank (Crieff) in a Nissan Micra and Lewis Winder (Castle Douglas)/Mike Baird (Castle Douglas) in another Micra.

Cameron Russell (Ayr) in his Micra starts the first event of his final season in sixth with “veteran” co-driver Ian McRae (Gartcosh). It has taken some serious reengineering to shoehorn a new seat in for Cameron who must be 6 foot 5 and growing!!!

And rounding of the second year drivers will be Josh Hislop (Aberdeen) in his Peugeot 107 with guest co-driver Ian Shiells sitting beside him in seventh and Johnnie Mackay (Aberdeen)/Gordon Reid (Stonehaven) in another Micra in eighth place. Late 2015 newcomer Peter Beaton (Ardersier)/Ruaraidh Stubbs (Inverness) in their recently acquired Citroen C1 will start ninth. Beaton has been the most active so far this year having competed on 2 events in N Ireland plus the first round of the Kick Energy J1000 Championship.

We then have a group of “shiny” newcomers all very keen and raring to get going. At ten will be Andrew Blackwood (Stewarton) and Gordon Winning (Glasgow) in the ex Finlay Retson Micra; at eleven Amy Mccubbin (Muirkirk) and Brian Mclelland (Cumnock) in a nice fresh Micra that she has built along with her Dad Marc; at twelve Lewis Haining (Dumfries)/Chuck Blair (Dumfries) in the ex Mikey Dickie Toyota Aygo; and finally at thirteen Michael Christie (Torphins) and Darren Christie (Aberdeen) in the ex Harris Wilson, Scott Murray Micra.

The new venue will be a real test for these young drivers but they will tackle it with the enthusiasm that only a 14 to 17 year old can display when given the opportunity to participate in real rallying.

The 2016 programme of events is:
1.    19/3/2016      Memorial Garden Stages Rally, Arbroath
2.    8/5/2016       Summer Kames Junior Rally, Muirkirk
3.    21/5/2016      Knockhill Junior Rally, Knockhill
4.    18/6/2016     Summer Crail Junior Rally, Crail
5.    7/8/2016       usedcarparts Solway Coast Junior Rally, Kirkcudbright
6.    24/9/2016     Autumn Kames Junior Rally 1, Kames
7.    25/9/2016     Autumn Kames Junior Rally 2, Kames
8.    26-27/11/2016  Glyn Memorial Junior Rally, Anglesey

Copies of the regulations are on our website – http://www.j1000ecossechallenge.co.uk
For ongoing chat, see  Facebook – “Junior 1000”

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