The Glyn Memorial Junior Rally on Anglesey has become the traditional closer for the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. This is the “International” element – we not only compete in a different country but on a separate island!! In past years the rally has taken place during the last weekend in October but moved a month to last weekend in November to accommodate Wales Rally GB!! In 2016, 10 registered crews from the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge made the trip down to join 16 crews from the Kick Energy Junior 1000 Championship for 2 days of rallying and 25% of the stages in the dark. The furthest travelled Scottish crew was from Inverness – 480 miles each way.
Going into the final event, who would emerge as the 2016 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge Champion was on a knife edge. Finlay Retson (Blairgowrie) and Ewan Tindall (Ryton, Tyne & Wear) were on exactly the same points with Retson having a slight advantage with 4 wins to Tindall’s 3. So it was all to play for. Retson couldn’t take any risks – he could finish second and still take the Championship but any lower than that or a non finish would see Tindall take the honours.
Conditions at the Anglesey track were unexpectedly brilliant. Bad weather had been a feature of part of the weekend in the past. And it was Retson, with “borrowed” co-driver Jonathan Jackson, who took the overall lead after the first stage. They held this lead until the sixth stage but curbed their enthusiasm a bit in the dark and ended up the first day 5 seconds off the overall lead, but critically, 1 second ahead of rival Tindall. But Tindall, with Paul Hudson in the co-driver’s seat, was never far away and he beat Retson’s times on 3 stages and equaled it on 1.
After a good night’s rest, it was Tindall who came out on day 2 with “fire in his belly” and after 2 stages had overtaken Retson and was ahead by 2 seconds. He also recorded fastest time overall on the first stage. Tension increased in the Retson support camp when the car seemed to slow down during the third stage of the day. The clutch cable had broken, leaving Retson stuck in second and dropping 8 seconds to his rival. There was not a lot of time between the third and fourth stages and Chief Mechanic Scotty had his work cut out to change the cable and get Retson out without time penalties for the fourth stage. But there was still a problem. The replacement cable turned out to be frayed inside and clutch operation was affected. Retson did well to drop only 1 second to Tindall in stage four before returning to service and replacing the clutch cable once again with one borrowed from another competitor. Tindall now held an 11 second advantage over Retson. But in the next stage, with his car working perfectly, Retson gave it everything he had and reduced the gap to 2 seconds. Over the final 3 stages, Retson kept the pace up and ended the day 14 seconds ahead of Tindall to come home first Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge competitor (and second overall) and take the coveted Champion’s crown. Tindall may have been disheartened but he was the first to congratulate Retson on his victory. Tindall also took third overall and that was enough to give him second in the 2016 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge and third in the 2016 Kick Energy Junior 1000 Championship. Not a bad couple of day’s work from both the boys and their co-drivers.
Coming home third out of the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge competitors were Josh Hislop and Ellya Gold (Toyota Aygo) They had a pretty trouble free rally and were still adjusting to the “new” car that they had purchased after Hislop/Gold’s monumental roll on round 6 of the Championship. They also finished tenth overall in the rally.
All 10 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge starters recorded finishes. A couple had hit trouble – Jude MacDonald/Michael Cruickshank hit a big tyre chicane on the second stage and Lewis Haining/Chuck Blair had a gearbox go on the sixth stage. But they both recovered and rejoined after missing 1 stage.
Despite the long haul faced by most competitors, the general consensus was that The Glyn Memorial Junior Rally had delivered an excellent season closer and the organisers have to be congratulated.