14 J1000 Ecosse crews lined up to take on the Albar Kames Trophy Junior Rally supported by Lochlie Construction Group, the morning dawning cloudy with a promise of rain at some point during the day.
Those changeable conditions produced the closest battle the series has seen for quite some time. The VW Up of Jack Ryan and Robin Nicolson and the Skoda Citigo of Rian Walker and Stuart McBride never separated by more than 2 seconds over the 16 stages. The 2 crews finishing the day tied on time. Jack and Robin getting the win on the tiebreak thanks to their fastest time on stage 1. A fantastic performance from both teams.
Round 1 winners Oliver Phillips and Barry Young were only 8 seconds away from the top 2 at the end of the event. Oliver producing his best ever performance at Kames, a venue he’s not a massive fan of. It was a very clean drive for the Citigo, in the perfect position to pounce if the top 2 hit trouble.
Ruan Lowry and Ian McRae also produced their best Kames performance with 4th. A good result but as always Ruan’s competitive nature was hoping for better. It was a very consistent performance, getting quicker with each stage and avoiding the wild moments that have plagued them in the past.
The battle for 5th produced the day’s 2nd tiebreak. The Yaris of Lauchlan Hunter and Calum MacPherson tying on time with the Citigo of Ollie Forrester and George Myatt. Lauchlan and Calum getting the nod after being quicker on stage 1. It was a very strong performance from the Yaris crew, Lauchlan impressing the onlookers with his ability to use every inch of the road.
For Ollie and George it was a bit frustrating, reckoning a slow start in the morning made all the difference. There was also a return of the abs issues they suffered at round 1 with the new car and they struggled to find the correct tyre pressures for the tight confines of Kames.
Alfie Letham and Craig Wallace were only 5 seconds back on their 1st event in a Skoda Citigo. Alfie immediately on the pace in the new car from stage 1, swapping times with Hunter and Forrester. There was a big sideways across the grass moment in stage 9 as he found the limits but it was a very good run on his Skoda debut.
JJ Jutley and Ted Runciman enjoyed another adventurous day, surviving a moment going into the infamous chicken run and a big spin during the day. JJ really enjoying the stages, particularly in the afternoon as he continues to get quicker in the 107.
9 seconds back, it was a tough day for Lucy Cree and Chloe Fleming. Lucy suffering with a very heavy cold and was a little bit off her normal pace. Doing her best to grab some rest in the service van between stages, she still produced a neat and clean drive on their way to 9th.
10th overall, Thomas Babb and Paul Gribben were pretty satisfied at the finish. A couple of nudges on tyre walls and some contact with another crew at a split were fairly minor incidents. Paul impressed with his pilot’s progress on only his 2nd event, especially with his precision and confidence on the narrow sections at the top of the circuit.
Making his rally debut, Freddie Johnson had the experienced Tom Hynd in the hotseat of his VW Up. Having impressed on the training day he continued on his steep learning curve, surviving a brief off and a small argument with some tyres. Tom praising his driver’s abilities on his 1st competitive outing.
Rounding out the finishers, it was a frustrating day for the rapid Thomas Milne and Neil Jeffrey. A mixup with the opening time control of the day left them with a 30-minute penalty before they started. Out on the stages a big spin on stage 2 showed how hard they were pushing. A small adjustment to the rear suspension later and they were absolutely flying, without the penalty they would have been 4th overall, in amongst the Ups and Citigos.
Unfortunately, 2 crews failed to make the finish. Jamie Findlay and Graeme Meins’ 107 a bit poorly after a couple of arguments with a tyre wall, forcing them to pull out. Fellow 107 crew Aaron Dickson and Alan Edwards made a more spectacular exit, rolling out of the rally on stage 2.
Images courtesy of Becksport Media