19 Jul: Mach1 Juniors Report

 … Mach1 Junior Stages Rally, Sat 9 July 2022 …

Just 1 week removed from the McRae Rally Challenge the Ecosse J1000 crews made the long trip west to sunny Campbeltown and the Machrihanish airfield for the Mach 1 Junior Stages.

Continuing his great run of form Sam Pattison would take a 3rd win in a row. With Albar winning co-driver Paul Whittaker back in the hotseat the Citigo driver kept it safe on the early short stages before attacking on the long stage 6. 28 seconds quicker than anyone else on that one stage alone gave them a lead that they would extend all the way to the finish. There was a small scare when 3rd gear began to play up but they were able to drive around the problem to take the win by 48 seconds.

The battle for second was a good one between Kalum Graffin & Rian Walker. Swapping times all day they headed into the final stage tied on time. Despite still dealing with his damaged hand Kalum & co-driver Johnnie Mackay took a fantastic final stage win by 8 seconds to take another 2nd place.

For their part Walker & Stuart McBride produced their best drive so far this year, pushing the Citigo as hard as they could and showing rally winning pace. This leaves Rian in the championship lead and Stuart 2nd in the co-drivers. More to come from this team for the rest of the year.

4th overall in a Micra on one of the fastest events of the season Thomas Milne & Neil Jeffrey had burned the midnight oil and had some assistance to sort the car after their McRae retirement. Thomas pushing the car properly hard, particularly on the long stages and really impressing Neil with his commitment as they battled with Evan Findlay & Robin Nicolson for 4th. A delaminating front tyre before the final stage was quickly changed and the charge continued. Neil describing the last stage run as “phenomenal”.

Evan & Robin’s day started with no intercom on the first loop. Once that was fixed Evan was another driver on a mission, battling with the Micra for 4th place, Robin another co-driver very impressed with his driver’s ability to get the maximum out of his relatively standard car. They did have some issues mid event with both driver & co-driver suffering badly with hayfever but they managed to grab 5th, just 21 seconds down on Milne & Jeffrey. This result leaves Evan 3rd in the points standings & Robin with a 1 point lead in the co-drivers over Stuart McBride.

Ruan Lowry & Ian McRae had an argument with a large collection of hay bales early on in the event, Ruan maintaining his 100% record of having an off at some point in a rally this year. After that he settled down and drove really well, the Micra running out of top speed very quickly on the fast sections. Ruan keeps his lead in the Pearson’s of Duns Trophy for Micra drivers.

Oliver Phillips had multi Junior rally winning co-driver Paul Hudson alongside for this round. Matching times with the rally leaders early on they were delayed when an argument with a chicane resulted in a driveshaft being pulled out. Seven minutes were dropped to the leaders and they would finish 7th. Oliver now sits 3 points off the championship lead.

Lucy Cree & Chloe Fleming continued to build their pace as they have done all year. Despite a scare when the service crew forgot to put fuel in the car Lucy continued to get quicker with every passing stage. Many marshals and onlookers remarking how impressed they were with how far she’s come so far this year.

By Alisdair Beck