The Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge ended its 2016 season with a day at Knockhill Racing Circuit on Sunday 11th December 2016. The day started with a Production Car Autotest where several parents and co-drivers pitted their driving skills against a group of the young hotshot Junior drivers from 2016. At the end of the day it was one of the fathers – John Mackay from Newburgh, Aberdeenshire – who took the victory in son Johnny’s Nissan Micra. But by only a slender margin. It was a bit of fun after all. Or was it???
It was then off to Kinnairds Restaurant at Knockhill for some food followed by the annual prize giving. Handing over the trophies was James Wozencroft from the MSA Academy. The 2016 Champion Driver award – the very fine “Knockhill Big J Wood Carving” – was presented to Finlay Retson (16) from Blairgowrie. Finlay had to work hard in his Citroen C1 for his position and only secured it on the final event on Anglesey 2 weeks earlier. Adding to the honour of being Champion Driver for 2016 was First Home Grown and Scottish Junior Driver since the Championship started in 2012. Previous winners have been from England and N Ireland.
Ewan Tindall (15) from Ryton, Tyne and Wear was the driver who ran Finlay so close all year in his Citroen C1 and he collected the cup for Second Driver. But Ewan’s co-driver – Paul Hudson from Darlington – went one better than his driver and collected the cup for First Co-driver.
Third Junior Driver award went to Harry Chalmers (16) from Alford. He had taken a big and brave gamble for 2016 and drove a newly built VW Up! – the first in the UK. It almost worked but just not quite enough to put him in contention with the 2 flying C1s and their talented drivers just in front.
Missing out on a hat-trick of firsts as a co-driver in the Championship was Andrew Falconer from Inverness. Finlay Retson’s regular co-driver had missed the final round on Anglesey and the critical points that went with it. And the third co-driver award went to Michael Cruickshank from Crieff who sat with Nissan Micra driver Jude MacDonald (Inverness) for the season. And Jude (15) was rewarded with first Nissan driver and collected the Pearson of Duns cup.
In 2016 we welcomed 5 novices into the Championship and taking the award for top Novice was Lewis Haining (14) from Dumfries in his Toyota Aygo after a very impressive first season in rallying.
Every year the Championship Organisers present a trophy to somebody who has gone “the extra mile” For 2016 the Spirit of the Championship award went to George Winder from Dalry, Nr Dumfries. George’s son Lewis is one of the regular Junior drivers in his Nissan Micra and George is famous for having a “magic tool box and box of bits” that can repair almost anything. But it was not only the toolbox and bits that George was singled out for it was his willingness to be on the scene to help any other competitor “in distress” – not an uncommon situation in rallying.
And so as the sun set over Knockhill, about 60 people headed home – some with trophies but all with memories and a desire to prepare for another Challenge in 2017.