The seventh and final round of the 2015 McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, took place in Scotland, for the Solway Coast Junior Rally where over thirty Junior crews started the ten stages around the military range. The rally was a round of the English, Scottish and Irish challenges, and for the first time in the four year history of it being a round of the McGrady series, one of our crews was victorious. Indeed 14 year old Peter Bennett, from Loughgall with Monaghan co-driver Arthur Kierans scored a convincing fourteen second win in their Citroen C1, from Scots front runner Finlay Retson in a similar machine.
From the start it looked like being it was going to be a driver from Northern Ireland winning the rally, as Michael McGarrity stormed into a two second lead on the slippery first stage. However on stage two, it was all over for the 16 year old, on his last series appearance, the C1 clouting a straw chicane that came up quickly after a fast crest. Trying to get the beached car off the straw bales, the gearbox broke, but more alarmingly, the straw and the car caught fire underneath! Thanks to the assistance of drivers like Philip White with an extinguisher, it was put out and he re-joined the fray for practice later in the day.
With Michael gone, it was Josh McErlean who was setting a storming pace, leading after stage two on his first visit to Solway. But the car cut out on the road section back to service, and he went OTL before the faulty fuse was traced. The 2015 Junior Challenge winner, was to set some storming fastest stage times during the day, which totted up would have left him in first place, once again proving the pace of the McGrady series.
Winner of the last round at Shackleton- Daniel Harper had made a cautious start on the first two stages, getting used to rallying over proper roads, with pace-notes and was upping the game on stage three, when he ran wide on a long right hander. The car went off the road down a 15 foot drop, luckily with-out damage, but was stuck fast in the mud. He re-joined to record some second fastest times later in the rally.
There was more drama as Bailie McClinton had started right on the pace in his C1 on the first three stages. On stage four he slid into a tree, and was out of the event, as the Dundrennan military ranges claimed many during the day. Philip White in his Micra was another on his last Junior outing, and he was first Micra home in a fine fourth place, punching in many good stage times. His only drama during the day was a significant time loss in his credited time after stopping to assist the McGarrity fire. 16 year old Philip has shown great promise this season with the Nissan, and is not sure of his plans yet for 2016.
It was Peter Bennett and Arthur Kierans’ day, the result also putting them right in contention for the Junior Ecosse series. The crew had one spin on stage eight which cost ten seconds, but aside from that it was a super consistent drive with one particularly stunning fastest time on stage six.
2015 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 7 Positions
1st Peter Bennett / Arthur Kierans Citroen C1 +51m 28s
2nd Finlay Retson/ Andrew Falconer Citroën C1 +14s
3rd Zak Hughes/Chris Evans Citroën C1 +57s
4th Philip White / Richard Wardle Nissan Micra +1m35s
5th Matthew Davies/ Claire Williams Citroën C1 +2m 05s
22nd Josh McErlean / Thomas McErlean Peugeot 107
23rd Daniel Harper/ Andrew Bushe Peugeot 107