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13 J1000 crews lined up to take the start of the Memorial Garden Stages Junior Rally, round 6 of the 2022 season, based on the mixture of sealed and loose surfaces of RM Condor in Arbroath
6 stages would make up the day, the weather dry and sunny but a little on the chilly side.

Taking his 5th win of the season, this round was the most challenging so far for Sam Pattison & co-driver Paul Whittaker. The red Citigo suffering for most of the day with a gearbox that wasn’t overly happy going into 3rd gear. Sam, following some advice from his Dad, was trying to slot into 3rd as gently as he could on the stages. They managed to nurse the issue and drive at a good pace all the way to the finish, taking the win by just 10 seconds.

Kalum Graffin had former J1000 and current WRC2 Junior competitor Josh McErlean in the hotseat for the 1st time this year. The Irish crew were fastest on stage 1 before getting held up by another competitor on stage 2. Their biggest issue came with a spin and having to reverse in the middle loop. The rest of the day they were swapping times with Pattison & Whittaker and took another solid 2nd place at the end of the day, but were left ruing that time-consuming spin.

The battle for 3rd was equally hard fought. Rian Walker & Stuart McBride held the place early on despite being held up badly by other cars and having a small argument with a barrel. They were being hounded by Oliver Phillips and Paul Hudson in their VW Up! After a slow start they were speeding up and swapping times with the Citigo, setting up a showdown for the final loop.

Unfortunately for Walker & McBride they would lose 3rd gear over that last loop, the gear they needed most on these fast stages. That allowed Phillips & Hudson to take an excellent 3rd by 20 seconds from the grey Citigo at the finish. A nice return to the podium for Oliver after some difficult events in recent times.

Top Micra once again, Thomas Milne & Neil Jeffrey were a sensational 5th overall. A half spin and argument with a barrel and fence on the opening loop saw the Nissan dragging some green mesh for most of the 2nd stage. But after that they were absolutely flying, Neil full of praise for his young pilot’s diving ability once again. They were less than 20 seconds away from 4th place at the end of the day.

17 seconds further back, Evan Findlay had Thomas Purvin navigating for the 1st time. The 107 was another car to spin on the opening loop, and Evan was using all the road and a wee bit of the grass to extract all he could out of his car. They spent the afternoon swapping times with Milne & Jeffrey and working on improving Evan’s braking abilities. 6th was an excellent result at the end of the event as Evan continues to get quicker and quicker.

Ollie Forrester was making his 2nd start in the juniors, partnered once again by former champion navigator George Myatt. After loving his 1st rally at Kames Ollie was even happier on the looser surfaces of Condor. Gaining massive amounts of time on the repeat runs of stages they were slightly delayed when Ollie outbraked himself into a chicane on the 2nd loop. The final stage brought drama when they clipped an arrow post that had been knocked over, amazingly pulling the driveshaft out and damaging the steering arm and wishbone in the process. Ollie doing a great job getting the car to the end of the stage to guarantee 7th overall.

Alifie Letham & Craig Wallace were making their first foray away from the confines of Kames. The more open venue providing a new experience as Alfie got used to being up in 3rd and 4th gear for the 1st time after barely being above 2nd at the East Ayrshire circuit. Craig was very impressed with Alfie’s progress, including with how handled diversity when the car cut out on the middle loop. Craig jumping out to push while talking Alfie through his 1st ever experience of bump starting a car. 8th was a good result on top of an excellent day of learning.

Ruan Lowry & Ian McRae were making their 2nd start in the Toyota Yaris. Braking issues on the 1st loop were traced to the handbrake being left slightly on, barely noticeable at a glance. The middle loop was trickier, the car cutting out and Ian having to make running repairs under the bonnet mid-stage. To cap everything off they were then given a penalty for a jump start as Ruan tried his best to make up time. On a clean stage the times were good, now they just need a bit of luck.

Lucy Cree & Chloe Fleming were delayed on the opening loop when they got caught in another competitor’s dust and had a spin. They were forced to wait until the dust cleared so they could find out which direction they were meant to be going. The rest of the day Lucy was being super precise in the chicanes and sacrificing wing mirrors left and right in the process. Chloe happy with Lucy’s ever-increasing pace as she continues to get quicker with every rally.

Fraser Mack & Edward Runciman had started their day solidly, despite being one of many crews to find the arrowing of the stages to be a little difficult to read at points. Stage 4 saw them take a maximum when the engine threw the fanbelt. Luckily, they had brought a spare and were also able to wire a switch so the fan could run the entire time. They set good times on the final loop but the damage had already been done and they would finish 11th.

Rounding out the finishers Aaron Dickson was making his J1000 debut with the experienced Tom Middlemiss alongside. With a lot to learn Aaron was doing a very good job, getting quicker with each stage and beginning to push his car. A spin and a couple of big slides on the middle loop were handled well and he made it to the finish, the only casualty being the passenger side mirror. Tom very impressed with Aaron on his debut.

Unfortunately, not seeing the finish Jack Ryan & Robin Nicolson endured one of those character-building days all rally teams have on occasion. Suffering with blown fuses and melted wires behind the dash from stage 2 onwards they were indebted to the help of Simon Perkins in service who helped sort the wiring and get them back out for the final loop. Pushing hard to try and set some good times they slid wide and ended up beached on the sump guard just metres from the stage. This hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm and the car will be sorted for the next round as they try and keep their title hopes alive.

Next up for the juniors is the open spaces of Crail at the beginning of November as the title fight reaches crunch point in the 2022 season.
2022 Dates

DCC Junior Stages, Ingliston 27 March
Albar Junior Rally, Kames 15 May
McRae Challenge Junior Rally, Knockhill 2 & 3 July
Mach 1 Stages, Campbelltown 9 July
Kames Autumn Stages 21 August
Memorial Garden Junior Stages, Arbroath 24 September
Kingdom Stages, Crail 5 November
Glyn Memorial Junior Rally, Anglesey 19 & 20 November

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