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The 2016 Brick and Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge got off to a flying start on the Memorial Garden Junior Stage Rally in Arbroath on 19th March 2016. 13 Junior crews tackled the demanding 45 mile route and 12 were classified as finishers. Credit for the event must go to Glenrothes Motor Sport Club and the resident regiment of Marines at RM Condor just outside Arbroath. The event was a first for the venue which is an active military base for the Marines.

Leading the way all day and scoring their first Scottish win of the 2016 Championship were Finlay Retson (Blairgowrie) and Andrew Falconer (Inverness) in a Citroen C1. To prepare for his first round of the Scottish Championship, Retson had travelled down to Bolton the previous weekend for the first round of the English Junior 1000 Championship and came home winner. This set him up well for the Memorial Garden Stages rally and he was quickest by a healthy 17 second margin on the first stage and continued to build up his lead over the next 7 stages to win by a 2 minutes 46 second margin over second placed crew Lee Tindall (Ryton, Tyne and Weir)/Paul Hudson (Darlington) in another Citroen C1.

Tindall had also used the English Junior 1000 Championship event to prepare and came home with third place. But at Arbroath he found that it took a few stages to “tune the car’s handling” to his satisfaction. But apart from a bent suspension wishbone it was a trouble free day.

Jude MacDonald (Inverness) and Michael Cruickshank (Crieff) were first Nissan Micra home in third place overall. Over the winter MacDonald had rebuilt his Micra and replaced the rear suspension and found this much more to his liking. But they had a bit of drama when a pothole bent the steering badly in the fourth stage causing them to drop about 25seconds. But his service crew managed to replace parts over the lunch break so that MacDonald could continue where he left off at the end of stage 3.

First time out in his new VW Up – it was finished at 11pm on the Friday night before the rally – was Harry Chalmers(Alford) with Steven Hay (Glenrothes) co-driving. The fact that the car never missed a beat all day and Harry had to adjust to a whole new driving experience says a huge amount about the engineering skill of the Lawrence of Kemnay team and the ability of Chalmers. He was rewarded with fourth place and they will now go home and finish the car off – it still had the same exhaust that it left the VW factory with.

There were more firsts in the final 4 cars. The intake of newcomers into the 2016 Championship had their first taste of stage rallying and they all did a superb job. Everybody agreed that – in fitting with the venue – it was a tough event. They all finished with huge grins and the finishing order was Lewis Haining (Dumfries)/Charles Blair (Dumfries) in a Toyota Aygo; Andrew Blackwood (Stewarton)/Gordon Winning (Glasgow) in a Nissan Micra; Michael Christie (Torphins)/Darren Christie (Aberdeen) in a Nissan Micra and, the first lady driver since Linzi Henderson and Georgia Shiels in 2012, Amy Mccubbin (Muirkirk) with Brian McClelland (Cumnock) in another Micra.

The next event for the Junior 1000 drivers will be at Kames Motorsport Complex, Muirkirk on 8th May.

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