The third round of the 2015 McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, took place at
Bishopscourt, for Ballynahinch Motor Club’s fourteen stage event. A record nine Junior 1000 crews lined up as the series continues to build momentum, training a new breed of young rallying talent aged from just 14 to 17. Starting at number one was winner of the first two rounds, Kilrea’s Josh McErlean. The 15 year old had cousin Tommy back in the co-drivers seat, and they made a fast start on the first stage, but it wasn’t quite fast enough dropping 3.8 seconds to the leader. Things were to get worse on stage two as the car developed a misfire towards the end of the test, and despite the loan of a fuel pump from Michael McGarrity this problem occurred at the same place later in the day dropping him from second to fourth. “We are not sure what the problem is, and on the last two stages the car was fine at the same place” said Josh. “I guess it’s our turn for a bit of bad luck today.”
It was Daniel Harper’s day though. A number seven seeding was to prove lucky for the youngest driver, as the 14 year old wanted to make up for a disappointing last round with mechanical problems. This time it was to be different as he pedalled his 107 into a fifteen second lead after four stages. On stage five however he survived a major moment, the car snapping away on the first corner, running over a row of tyres and dropping six seconds. But the Anahilt driver replied with a fastest time on the next stage, and then continued to build up a lead of over thirty seconds which he controlled to the finish, taking seven fastest times. “I am so happy!” exclaimed Daniel. “I’ve so much enjoyed driving this event, there are so many corners and everything ran great. It makes up a lot for the last round, and I can’t wait to compete in St.Angelo in May.”
Behind Daniel was an epic race for second place between Philip White and Michael McGarrity. Philip with co-driver in his trusty Micra was putting up his best performance of the season, commanding second after eleven stages. “I like this venue” explained Philip. “Also we have cured a problem with the rear brakes and that has helped. I don’t think I can hold Michael though with the Micra.” Indeed the two 16 year olds were neck a neck but a fastest time on stage twelve moved Michael into second and he stayed there to the end. “I had such a day’s craic!” said Michael.
“I enjoy the Juniors, and even between the stages with the other drivers. It’s been a great day, and great race with fifth placed Peter Bennett was a little bit behind the leading pace this time, but the 14 year old still recovered well after getting stuck on top of a tyre, which had been innocently clipped by Josh and rolled onto the track on stage four. With Arthur Kierans alongside they got progressively faster as the day progressed, and are still in the title hunt. In sixth Bailie McClinton was getting closer to their times, the 16 year old having his first proper run in a Citroen C1 after a brief showing at Kirkistown. The Broughshane driver is aiming for a real good run at St.Angelo in May. Sam Stewart made the long trip down from Donegal, and putting in some fine times in his Nissan Micra. Indeed he was battling with Bailie, but on the penultimate stage he mis-read a split junction and took a maximum time which relegated him to eighth at the finish. Seventh then went to the 15 year old London driver Ruairi Bell who is immensely enjoying the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland. His stage times took a massive jump from his debut at Kirkistown in the Superdrive Micra.
That left 16 year old Jack Cairns to take ninth, after an early spin saw him stuck for a minute on stage two. Jack with co-driver Andrew Purcell was another to improve his driving all day at Bishopscourt. The challenge for 14-17 year old drivers, now heads for round four- St.Angelo airfield in Enniskillen on 4th May.
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2015 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 3 Positions
1st Daniel Harper / Andrew Bushe Peugeot 107 47.19.3
nd Michael McGarrity / Davy Graham Citroën C1 +0:32.5
3rd Philip White / Martin McGarrity Nissan Micra +0:39.3
4th Josh McErlean / Thomas McErlean Peugeot 107 +0:52.6
5th Peter Bennett / Arthur Kierans Citroën C1 +1:09.2
th Bailie McClinton / Niall Burns Citroën C1 +1:28.4
7th Ruairi Bell / Liam Regan Nissan Micra +3:03.9
8th Sam Stewart / Stephen Peoples Nissan Micra +3:45.8
9th Jack Cairns / Andrew Purcell Peugeot 107 +5:26.0