Round 6 of the Junior 1000 Rally championship returned to the challenging long stages at Caerwent Military base for the Patriot Stages. All eyes were on championship leader Ewan Tindall, who would be able to clinch the 2017 Junior title with a top 5 finish after already claiming all 5 wins of the season so far.
Standing in the 16 year old’s path to victory were his championship rivals and the suspension damaging kerb’s along the stages. The damp weather conditions added to the tension and would make the fast stages even more difficult. Tom Llewellin had just wrapped up the Rally Cross championship and came to Caerwent looking for his first victory after being a constant podium finisher. Tom Rawlings, James Hall, Rookie Elliott Payne and Eddie Lewis also came to the event determined to have a strong finish after showing great pace on the previous visit to the venue.
It would be Welshman Llewellin who would set a blistering pace on the opening stage, opening up a 7 second lead over Eddie Lewis with Ewan Tindall sitting in a strong 3rd place. Disaster struck to the Rawlings team as their ever reliable 107 developed a gearbox issue on the opening stage ending their day before it had begun and giving him their first DNF of the season.
Llewellin continued his pace into stage 2, once again setting the quickest times to extend his lead to 20 seconds as rookie Elliott Payne drew level with Eddie Lewis to share 2nd place. Tindall completed the stage without issue but had now dropped down to 4th place overall.
Stage 3 would see Tindall get back on the gas and set the 2nd fastest stage time to put him back in 2nd place, but it was once again Llewellin who set the fastest time for the 3rd stage in a row. Tindalls move up the leader board pushed Payne down to 3rd, Lewis into 4th and James Hall in 5th. Riley Banks was also enjoying a good day in his new 107, whilst Rob Cotton was setting the pace in the Pre ’03 Trophy as Rob Wilson made a mistake and damaged his car on SS3.
Unfortunately on stage 4, a stranded senior car blocked the stage, stopping the Junior drivers from completing the stage and giving everyone a notional time, but unfortunley Eddie Lewis excellent day ended with a broken gearbox mount after he had been in a strong podium place. Then after further issues caused by the senior drivers, stage 5 was also abandoned, setting up a nervous wait for the final stage of the day as the light started to fade with the dark clouds overhead.
Tom Llewellin started the final stage with a comfortable 26 second lead over 2nd placed Tindall, so know all he had to do was set a steady time to claim his first ever rally win. He also knew that 2nd placed Tindall would not be pushing, as he only needed 5th place to win the title. Elliott Payne, had no such pressures and pushed his C1 and would go 18 seconds faster than anyone else to push himself into 2nd place overall and also top rookie. Llewellin brought his car back safely to record a time good enough to win the rally by 19 seconds and finally join the elite list of drivers who’ve won a junior event.
However, the biggest smile was on Ewan’s face as he arrived back in service to clinch 3rd place in the rally and enough points to be crowned the 2017 Junior 1000 Rally champion. Incredibly, he also won the Scottish championship to his name the weekend before, proving beyond any doubt that he is the top Junior rally driver in the country this year.
Rob Cotton wrapped up his first Pre ’03 Trophy of the season after dominating the class all day, finishing ahead of Ioan Lloyd in 2nd and Rob Wilson in 3rd.
Final Junior Result
A full list of the stage times by driver is available by CLICKING HERE