The second round of the 2018 National Construction Skills Academy (NCSA) ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland took place at Bishopscourt for the Ballynahinch Motor Club’s McGrady Insurance Stages event. Just three Junior 1000 crews lined up for the six- stage event, as reigning champion Sam Adams sadly had to pull out a couple of days before-hand, his recovery from a road accident not quite complete.
There was much excitement however as round one winner Marcus McElwee had upgraded to a Citroen C1 for this event. The 15-year-old set off first into stage one and was first off it too! He beached the Citroen on a lorry tyre after aquaplaning on the back straight, and had be rescued, getting to the stage end to record a maximum time of thirteen minutes.
It was Peter Beaton who took the early advantage with a great run on the first stage. The 16-year-old’s long trip from Nairn in Scotland, had been made more stressful when his mum Katriona ended up in hospital the previous day after taking an allergic reaction on the ferry over. With mum back at trackside on the day, Peter and co-driver Paul Gallagher were fastest on all three tests opening up a massive lead, but disaster was to strike on stage four.
A welcome newcomer to the challenge was Recce Pollock from Londonderry, who is also the youngest driver at just fourteen years of age. Bringing with him much rally- sprint experience he made a promising start with his new Nissan Micra, but half way through stage one it ground to a halt in the wet conditions with an electrical fault. It was after stage two that the busy Ballynahinch Motor Club towed the car in, and he re-joined to have a good run on stage three, before a similar fault affected the car on stage four. Despite these problems Recce loved his first Junior 1000 event, and the Micra is already undergoing some preparation work before the next round. Recce picked up the trophy and prize-money from NCSA for third place.
Stages three and four where shorter versions of stage one and two and stage four was to cause some upset as Peter Beaton ground to a halt when the engine mount bolts sheared, and the drive-shaft pulled out. The 107 was towed in and thanks to the assistance of Kyle White and his team, was repaired to re-join the event on stage five. However, a stage maximum of thirteen minutes was applied after stage four, and this put them behind Marcus McElwee.
Marcus was now learning his Citroen C1 and set fastest time on stage five, two seconds faster than Beaton. Recce Pollock was also just seven seconds off the leader on this test, showing that he will be a force to be reckoned with soon. On the final stage Peter Beaton took his fourth fastest time of the day, 1.7 seconds ahead of Marcus McElwee.
It wasn’t the best display for the Junior 1000 runners, with small excursions and break-downs meaning that no crew fully completed the route, but they all got their top three prizes and the prize-money from Brendan Crealey the series sponsor.
It was Marcus McElwee who showed up as the winner by twenty-four seconds on the final results, and the Junior crews where all very thankful to the marshals who braved the extremely wet weather to put on this event, at a venue they all enjoy.
2018 NCSA Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rnd 2 Positions
1st Marcus McElwee / John Henderson Citroën C1 52:30.5
2nd Peter Beaton / Paul Gallagher Peugeot 107 +0:24.0
3rd Reece Pollock / Hugh Watson Nissan Micra +10:50.0
Junior 1000 Driver Championship Points after Round 2
1 Marcus McElwee 24
2 Peter Beaton 18
3 Sam Adams 10
4 Recce Pollock 8
Images: Mark Breen Photography- www.markbreenphotography.com