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Kames Motorsport Complex in Ayrshire might provide the shortest stages in the J1000 Ecosse Challenge but it is never short of drama, and the Albar Trophy Rally on 1st September was no exception. There were the usual incredibly tight margins, a roll from second place, and a stunning debut.

Following the torrential rain during the training session on the previous day, all eyes were on the skies, watching for the expected rain which thankfully never came.

Fastest out of the blocks on stage 1 were Kyle McBride & Jane Nicol, one second ahead of Oliver Hunter & Richard Crozier, who were one second ahead of Cameron Davidson & Ian McRae, who were one second ahead of Marcus McElwee & John Henderson, who were one second ahead of Owen Paterson & Calum McPherson, who were one second ahead of Jack Hall & Robin Nicolson, who were one second ahead of Justin Gunning & Stuart McBride. Yes, the J1000 championship redefines small margins.

McBride continued to set an impressive string of fastest times, and led until a wrong-slot on Stage 9 cost him about 12 seconds, which was enough to drop him behind Hunter, but a collision with a tyre on Stage 13 sent the car into a roll, and retirement from the event. Kyle, and Jane Nicol emerged unscathed, but their day was over. This left Hunter with a clear lead over Davidson, who, despite pushing as hard as he could, just couldn’t match the pace of Hunter who pulled slowly but steadily further ahead to win by half a minute.

But right behind with a stellar performance on his debut event, was Owen Paterson, only 2 weeks after his 14th birthday, who pipped Jack Hall for third place. Hall had brake problems which meant they had to do the second half of the event with front brakes only, although it doesn’t really show in the stage times. In another last minute drama at the finish, the results showed Hall and Paterson tied equal on total time. The tie-break gave the position to Paterson by virtue of having been one second faster than Hall on the opening stage. Yes, the J1000 championship redefines small margins.

Another strong performance by Justin Gunning and Stuart McBride saw Gunning take 5th place but they just missed out on the Novice trophy which was taken by Owen Paterson, and this result seals the Novice Championship in Thomas Johnston’s favour, after a string of good consistent results by Thomas.

Letisha Conn led the Irish contingent home in 6th place, after a fairly drama-free run with Ian Crosbie, but the other Irish visitors didn’t fare so well. Even before Kyle McBride’s roll, the third Irish crew, Marcus McElwee and John Henderson were lying in 4th place after two stages, but broke a driveshaft on stage 3, and although they rejoined to complete the event, the time loss put them well out of contention and they finished 10th.

Aaron Webster & Neil Jeffrey got through the day unscathed with an increasingly smokey engine in their Micra, but Neil was worried about Aaron’s driving getting a bit erratic on the last stage, although it turned out that Aaron’s drinks bottle had found its way onto the floor and was rolling around the pedals. Erica Winning & Elya Gold had a drama-free run to 9th place.

This was Oliver Hunter’s second win of the season, only a few miles from home in Ayr, but talking point of the day was Owen Paterson’s podium position on his first event. This performance will have the regular front runners watching over their shoulders on the coming events.

Statistic of the day was that Oliver Hunter’s total time would have placed him 3rd in the Senior event. If anyone thinks that a 1000cc car must be slower than a fancy Escort, you need to visit a Junior 1000 event.

Full results from http://www.scotresults.co.uk

Round 6 of the Championship will be another military base setting at Weeton on 22nd September

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