18 Jul: Mach1 Stages – Juniors

 … Mach1 Stages Rally, 10/11 July 2021 … Archie Swinscoe Tops the Juniors …

It was a long time in coming, however the 2021 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge eventually got started on Saturday 10th July when the excited crews lined up at the start line of the 2021 Mach 1 Stages on the old Machrihanish Airfield near Campbeltown.

The organisers of this classic event had invited our Junior drivers, and allowed them to run at the front of an extremely high class field of serious machinery. From the first stage it was flat out commitment for our drivers and at the end of the first Leg which consisted of two stages, it was apparent that during the 18 months’ sabbatical no one had lost their knowledge on how to make their wee cars go.

Four seconds covered the top five and it was only a broken driveshaft on Stage 2 that prevented Erica Winning from joining this battle. Newcomer Rian Walker was certainly not far behind however he had bigger issues back at the service area trying to convince a very concerned Mum that he was going to be OK.

A further two short stages followed and the battles raged on with our new friends from south of the border leading the way with Archie Swinscoe holding the narrowest of leads over Max Speed who for such a young man was driving his Peugeot 107 like a veteran. This pair had managed to pull out a 5 second lead however life was getting very interesting as the next 3 places were covered by a margin of 3 seconds with Tom Johnstone just keeping his nose in front.

Stage 5 was going to be the biggest challenge that our crews faced so far with a very fast 9 miles interspersed with tight chicanes which all required precision and commitment. Archie Swinscoe along with his co-driver Barry Young stopped his wee Citigo and the clock on 11 minutes and 11 seconds but where was his nearest revival Max?

Unfortunately the answer came when he limped back to the service area with a failed driveshaft. What is very noticeable within the ranks of the Junior Championship, is the help from other teams to give assistance to an unfortunate crew who have experienced some misfortune. This was the case for Max as service crews from other teams helped to get him back out for the short Stage 6.

It was a hard lesson to learn but getting a Maximum on the short Stage 2 resulted in Erica Winning and Ellya Gold dropping 30 seconds to their fellow competitors. However by suffering a maximum on the long stage Max Speed and Alan Gilbert dropped a very unwelcome 8 minutes. Therefore if you are going to have a problem, have it on a short stage –end of lesson.

After the lunch break, crews watered and fed, headed back onto the wide open spaces of Machrihanish Air Field for the same again as the conditions got warmer and the sun shone down on this lovely part of rural Scotland.

Cruel luck was to befall Max again as he managed to unseat a second drive shaft at the start of Stage 7 and so it was decided to call it a day and put the car on the trailer and make an early start to the long trip south. With Archie extending his lead on Stages 7 and 8 the battle for second place intensified with Owen Paterson making his claim for the second step of the podium by having two great times on these stages which resulted in him and Callum Shanks having a 6 second cushion from Letisha and Tom who were separated by just two seconds.

Erica continued her recovery from her earlier problems and had young Rian as a target however Stuart McBride was using his experience and looking after the rookie which was not making Erica’s task straightforward.

By the time the crews set off for stages 9 and 10 they had gained a great deal of knowledge of where the grip was and how tight the chicanes were so the speeds increased and the times were dropping. Archie blistered his way through the long Stage 9 and increased his lead by a further 27 seconds and now had a commanding lead so he could afford to take it easy through the last two stages, but did he? No chance.

As crews left the service area for the last two stages, they were aware that the battle for second place was far from over with just 14 seconds covering the three hard challenging drivers. Letisha Conn with Emma Morrison on the Notes managed to take 5 seconds from Owen on these two challenging final stages, however Owen was driving under instruction from his service crew to drive steady and don’t make any mistakes.

This was a good policy, but he had not allowed for the hard charging Tom Johnstone who had last year’s champion co-driver Ian McRae guiding him. As the crews completed what had been an excellent day’s sport it was a foregone expectation that the top step of the podium was filled by Archie Swinscoe and Barry Young, however who was going to be second?

By one second, Tom had managed to push Owen down on to the third step as crews lined up at the end for the socially distanced photo. The excitement was not finished for Rian Walker as his Skoda slid off and into a pillar leaving the poor team with some repairs to do before the next round.

( Report from: Roy Campbell & Ian McRae )

Junior 1000 Results:

1, Archie Swinscoe/Barry Young (Skoda Citigo) 57:08

2, Tom Johnstone/Ian McRae (Skoda Citigo) +01:53

3, Owen Paterson/Callum Shanks (Peugeot 107) +01:54

4, Letisha Conn/Emma Morrison (Skoda Citigo) +02.03

5, Erica Winning/Ellya Gold (Nissan Micra) +10:51

6, Rian Walker/Stuart McBride (Skoda Citigo) +40:50

7, Max Speed/Alan Gilbert (Peugeot 107) F/F