The fifth round of the 2017 McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, in association with www.rallysales.eu took place at St. Angelo airfield just outside Enniskillen for the Enniskillen Motor Club’s May Day Stages event. Five Junior 1000 crews lined up for the six stage event, as the 14-17 year old rally stars of the future took part in rally blessed with fine weather and good crowds to witness the 1 litre pocket rockets in action.
Challenge leader, 15 year old Sam Adams on his first season in motorsport started number one in his Skoda Citigo and not surprisingly took the lead on the stage one. However it was only a fractional lead after over-shooting a square left and having to reverse back. The exact same fate befell his championship rival, 16 year old Peter Beaton in his Peugeot 107. The Scottish youngster recovered to record third fastest time behind the very impressive Jordan Frazer on his rally debut. The 16 year old Fermanagh driver was driving the ex-William Creighton championship winning Citroen C1 and was to put it to good use all day. Rory Byrne had a decent first stage, a moment on stage two, but a superb third stage setting second fastest time in his Volkswagen UP, but poor Marcus McElwee in his Nissan Micra was in early bother with a plug lead jumping off on stage one and dropping almost two minutes to the leaders. The 14 year old soldiered on well through the rest of the day to take home some valuable series points.
On stages two and three, Sam Adams was getting the feel of the airfield on his first visit and built up a considerable advantage, taking eight seconds from Jordan Frazer on stage two, and fifteen seconds after a great run through the third test. Peter Beaton too was dropping back, but was enjoying his day, with improvements having been made to his rear suspension, and former Junior front runner Kyle White in the hot-seat of his old Junior 1000 Peugeot, giving plenty of encouragement. Indeed the pairing would close up the gap to the leader’s times as the day progressed to secure an excellent third place. 16 year old Mayobridge driver Rory Byrne with cousin James on the notes was showing great improvement, and on stage five he was just 1.8 seconds off the fastest time, by far his most competitive run of the season to date, and fourth place was achieved with the added bonus of being much closer to the top three. It also helped to make up for his round four disappointment when the sump was damaged on stage one.
Local lad Jordan Frazer with co-driver Chris Corry recorded two fastest times on the final tests to take an excellent second place in his Citroen C1. A stage two spin into a bale was one moment in an otherwise excellent day for the rally debutant. For Sam Adams, a bent wishbone after hitting a hole on stage four was the only drama, but again he was fastest and with a thirty second advantage was able to relax on the final two stages to take another Junior 1000 victory, a victory that gives him five maximum scores assuring him of the 2017 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland title.
“It was a great day’s sport, and a different venue and we really enjoyed it” said the Armoy driver. “It’s fantastic to win, and to wrap up the championship means a lot. It’s been a good year to date and I am still learning more each time. The competition is tough and every fraction of a second counts.”
Two rounds remain as the series takes a mid-season break, before a double-header weekend, with the Dogleap Stages at Shackleton on 5th August and the Solway Coast Rally in Scotland the following day to finish the championship in style.
2017 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 5 Positions
1st Sam Adams / Andrew Bushe Škoda Citigo Sport +31.17.2
2nd Jordan Frazer/ Chris Corry Citroen C1 +21.1s
3rd Peter Beaton / Kyle White Peugeot 107 +48.6s
4TH Rory Byrne/ James Byrne Volkswagen UP +1m18.6s
5th Marcus McElwee / John Henderson Nissan Micra +2m50.4s
Junior 1000 Driver Championship Points after Round 5
1 Sam Adams 60
2 Peter Beaton 38
3 Marcus McElwee 31
4 Rory Byrne 23
5 Jordan Frazer 10
Registered co-driver points after Round 5
1 Andrew Bushe 60
2 Kenny Foggo 30
3 James Byrne 18