The Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston was the setting for the first event of the 2017 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge – the first outing since Anglesey in November 2016 . Eleven young drivers – all aged 15 to 16 – gathered with their 1000cc rally cars to see who would be in contention to be 2017 Champion. Dunfermline Car Club were the organisers of the 8 stage, 25 mile Blackwood Plant Hire sponsored DCC Junior Stages. This would be the first time back at Ingliston for the Juniors since 2013 and the Junior only Sunday event – which took the same effort to run as the 80 car Senior event on the day before – was a really welcome and appreciated addition to the Championship calendar.
Current Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge Champion Finlay Retson carried number 1 on the side of his borrowed Nissan Micra and enlisted the help of Tom Hynd as co-driver.. Finlay started rallying in 2014 in a similar Micra and from the sounds of the wee car on the first stage, he had lost none of his enthusiasm for the marque. He was followed by Ewan Tindall/Paul Hudson in their Citroen C1. Tindall had taken victory in the first round of the Southern Junior 1000 Championship 2 weeks earlier. And car number 3 was Jude MacDonald/Michael Cruickshank in a brand new “Skoda racing green” Skoda Citigo.
Anticipation was in the air. But the times over the first 2 stages were the reverse of the running order – MacDonald stopped the clocks 2 seconds up on Retson, with Tindall 2 seconds further back. Tindall knew he had a fight on his hands and over the next 2 stages set about making amends. After 4 stages he was equal with MacDonald with Retson in third.
Over the next pair of stages, Tindall continued to build on his lead. After stage 6, he was 12 seconds ahead of Retson and 16 seconds ahead of MacDonald. MacDonald was struggling a bit. The brakes on the new car were proving too effective and they were either on or off!! But a bigger problem was the heat inside the new car. Green is probably not a good reflector of the sun and the temperature inside the wee car was getting higher in the “sweltering” 2nd April sun!! Finally on stage 7, MacDonald had to pull over on the stage with a searing migraine headache. He did recover later after being examined by the event Doctor. But not the way he wanted his first outing to end.
And so at the finish line after 8 stages, it was Tindall first with Retson second – 15 seconds behind. But who inherited third? It was Johnnie Mackay/Gordon Reid in their new mount – a Suzuki Alto. Their day had not been without its problems with the Alto refusing to rev over 4000rpm after stage 3. Modern cars get modern electronic problems which can require a specialist with a computer to fix! The problem defied his Dad on the spanners and they soldiered on. But what a reward for persistence – third place.
9 cars out of the eleven starters finished – Josh Hislop being the other retiree when his power steering failed just before stage 5.
The next outing for the Junior drivers will be in Arbroath on 15th April.