The first round of the 2018 National Construction Skills Academy (NCSA) ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland took place at Shackleton for the Maiden City Motor Club’s Turkey Run event. Just three Junior 1000 crews lined up for the six stage event, as Jordan Frazer was unable to make it to this round, but the enthusiasm was still there as the 14-17 year old rally stars of future set off in the wet conditions.
Reigning champion, 16 year old Sam Adams from Armoy in the Skoda Citigo started as he left off with a superb time on stage one, eighteen seconds faster than his nearest Junior rival. On stage two he was thirty seconds faster than the nearest challenger, and on the third test, twenty five seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer, giving him a lead of over one and a half minutes. Indeed the one litre cars time of 4 minutes 47 seconds on that third stage shamed many in the main field, but Sam’s luck was to run out on the next stage. Running wider to negotiate a bale that had been knocked out, the car locked up on some standing water, and as he made a track through the wet grass the Skoda became stuck fast in the mud, eventually being freed but having to take a stage maximum. Second place was still a useful haul of points, despite the disappointment, and helping to make up for it was the generous £100 prize money awarded by the NCSA, the new championship sponsor.
Peter Beaton once again made their long trip from Nairn near Inverness in Scotland. 16 year old Peter in his Peugeot 107 once again was going to be the big challenger, and had a clean run on stage one, second fastest with co-driver Paul Gallagher. But on one of the final bends of stage two, Peter suffered a spin in the 107, the car backing into the saturated in-field and he was another to incur a stage maximum. Peter put in a charge on the final stages second fastest on both, physically catching leader Marcus McElwee on the final two tests, after some stirring driving. Third place was to be final reward, with a useful haul of points along with £75 in prize money.
15 year old Marcus McElwee is the youngest driver with the low budget Nissan Micra. The Magherafelt teenager with County Armagh’s John Henderson alongside had a couple of spins on stage one, but after that was pushing the little Nissan to its limits on the slippery stages, and making no mistakes. With a lead of over a minute going into the last stage he had to cruise to the finish, but it all nearly went wrong on the very last corner. With Beaton on his back bumper, Marcus lost concentration for a split second and spun the Micra, Beaton and a hard chasing Sam Adams, both getting past. However Marcus had enough in hand to take a well-deserved first Junior win and £150 prize money to boot! “I’m absolutely delighted” said Marcus. “It’s been a very enjoyable event, with plenty of drama and today it worked out for us. The conditions were tricky and we had a few moments, plenty of big slides!” One wonders what this teenager could do with a newer Junior 1000 car, and it was great to see him take his maiden victory, adding extra spice to the championship.
With fresh enquiries for the remainder of the 2018 season, the revival of the series has started, and round two will be on the 27th January at Kiristown for the New Year Stages.
2018 NCSA Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 1 Positions
1st Marcus McElwee / John Henderson Nissan Micra 33:40
2nd Sam Adams / Andrew Bushe Škoda Citigo +0:22
3rd Peter Beaton / Paul Gallagher Peugeot 107 +1:42
Junior 1000 Driver Championship Points after Round 1
1 Marcus McElwee 12
2 Sam Adams 10
3 Peter Beaton 8
Registered co-driver points after Round 1
1 John Henderson 12
2 Andrew Bushe 10
3 Paul Gallagher 8
Pictures thanks to Kevin Glendinning- www.kgrallypics.com