This would be the first event of the third season of the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge – Scotland’s only car rally Championship for budding 14 to 17 year old drivers. A total of 13 crews - including Mikey Dickie, from Banchory, and Martin Forrest, of Aberdeen, in their Toyota Aygo - drew up to the start line of the first stage.
Ten were returning from 2013 and three were complete newcomers. Kames may be a small venue but it is a real test of skill and nerve and more than one crew were to find that it can bite!”Returning 2012 and 2013 champion Alexander Vassallo with co-driver Neil Colman in their Citroen C1 opened the defence of his titles by building up a five second lead over nearest rivals Mikey and Martin in the first two stages. He opened this lead up to 14 seconds when Dickie/Forrest hit problems on stage seven. The Aygo ran wide on one corner and managed to end up on top of a tyre. It took a fair bit of muscle to shift the car and the resulting stage maximum time dropped Dickie down the order and and forrest finished sixth overall with a total time of 30.26.
Another battle was developing between Craig MacIvor/Paul Beaton (Micra) and Dylan O’Donnell /Tom Middlemiss (Micra) over the first eight stages. Advantage went to MacIvor over the first couple but O’Donnell clawed his way back and after eight stages O’Donnell held a slim six-second lead over MacIvor.
O’Donnell continued to open up the gap in the afternoon and had increased his lead to 20 seconds when disaster struck MacIvor/Beaton in stage 14. Coming out of a tight blind right hander they found a large tyre in their path. The resulting impact threw the immaculate Micra into a series of barrel rolls over the tyre wall. It was very dramatic and the pristine Micra suffered substantial body damage but the crew walked away – shaken but unhurt.
This left O’Donnell with a reasonably clear run over the final twostages to come home in second place – 46 seconds behind winner Vassallo.
Michael Robertson/Phil Sandham brought their brand new Toyota Aygo home third after MacIvor’s unfortunate demise but it was not without one or two small dramas with the first time out car. The car was proving to be set too low for the undulations at Kames and was bottoming out on several stages. The exhaust took most of the punishment and then on the way to stage 13, it dropped off its mountings. With the help of several strong bystanders, the car was lifted up on one side while somebody went under and removed the two rear sections of the exhaust. Job done and they went on to take a well deserved third place.
Disaster also struck one of the other brand new cars. Brandon Walsh’s Citroen C1 was finished at 1am on the morning of the rally. And with veteran driver Ian McRae in the co-driver’s seat – last date on his competition licence was 1987 – things were settling in well until stage six when they also found one of those Kames tyres in the apex of a very quick corner and over the lovely wee pristine white Citroen went. Once again, both crew walked away shaken but with no injuries.
Eleven cars crossed the finish line – some with more problems than others – and all three newcomers were delighted to be included in that number.
Next event will be on June 14 when the season proper starts with the Crail Summer Junior Stages.