The final round of the 2017 Junior 1000 Rally championship travelled back to Anglesey in North Wales, where the season all began 8 months earlier. The two-day Glyn Memorial Junior rally also hosts a round of the Scottish championship, so the crowds were able to see over 20 names of the future showing off their skills. The 16 stage rally was going to be a real test for the little 1 litre cars over the two days, with each day seeing 8 stages each. With an afternoon start on day 1, the crews would be running into the dark for the final few stages, giving the drivers an opportunity to get more night driving experience.
The competition between the crews of Elliott Payne, Ioan Lloyd, James Hall, Eddie Lewis and Steve Jones were all expected to be battling it out for the victory, with Hall starting his last Junior rally after 3 seasons. The conditions were kind to the drivers as the rain stayed away, but the bitterly cold wind was testing the commitment of the spectators.
After the first 4 stages had been completed, Elliott Payne lead the way by 11 seconds and Steve Jones only 1 second further back in 3rd. You could throw a blanket over the rest of the field as only seconds separated all of the positions. Over the next couple of stages, Payne would extend his lead to 26 seconds as James Hall held on to 2nd place ahead of Steven Jones in 3rd. Emerging from the pack were Ioan Lloyd and Lwi Price Edwards whose times were getting quicker and quicker as the day went on.
The final 2 stages of the day were now in total darkness and Ioan Lloyd relished these conditions and set some quick time to move him up the leaderboard. Despite a small argument with a tyre stack on SS7, Steve Jones leap frogged James hall into 3rd as he struggled in the closing stages. Eddie Lewis had also shown great pace in the dark and finished the day only 4 seconds of 3rd placed Hall, with Ioan Lloyd just a couple of seconds back in 5th.
As dawn broke on day 2, Eddie Lewis continued his momentum and moved into 3rd place ahead of James Hall by just a second after the first couple of stages. However, his charge towards his first podium was soon to be over as a loose battery caused the car to stop on stage and force them back into service for a quick repair. We also lost Steve Jones with a broken steering arm over contact with another argumentative tyre stack. This promoted Ioan LLoyd into 2nd place and Lwi Price Edwards into 3rd with only 2 stages left to go. With the skies starting to darken once again, the organisers reduced the rally to 15 stages, meaning Elliott Payne just needed one more trouble free run with his lead now up to over 90 seconds to Lloyd in 2nd.
Elliott duly brought the car home without any issues to take his first Junior rally win in his rookie season. Ioan Lloyd and Lwi Price Edwards completed the podium places while Rob Cotton beat Rob Wilson comfortably to honours in the Pre ’03 Trophy.
More good driving from rookies Max Hughes and Jonathan Davies as they both get some miles under their belt ahead of a full season in 2017
The 2018 season looks set to be incredibly close with the majority of the crews returning for another season in upgraded machinery. The action will be set to get underway in March, so stay tuned for driver announcements and event calendar.
Final Standings for all competitors is available here