In blistering sunshine, the 4th round of the Junior 1000 Rally Championship was held at the challenging Caerwent Military base for the Mid Summer Stages. A large entry of of 15 cars started the day with most of the drivers having a sleepless night thinking of the endless miles rally ending kerbs.
Rookie Elliott Payne set the pace in the first of the 6 stages but only by 1 second ahead of championship leader Ewan Tindall and a further second ahead of Welsh charger Tom Llewellin. After switching from the Fiesta to his old C1, Eddie Lewis was also back to the top half of the time sheets who was in joint 4th place level with Rookie Rob Wilson in his Micra. Tom Rawlings and James Hall both made a slow start as they made sure their rally continued past the first stage as they looked to build their pace. Unfortunately, Billy Grew’s terrible luck continued as he slid on gravel at a corner and hit a concrete bridge causing damage to the car and ending their rally.
The top drivers continued to trade times over the next couple of stages to the half way point, where Ewan Tindall and Co-Driver Paul Hudson started to take control of the day as they opened up a 7 second lead over Payne & Llewellin who were tied for 2nd place. Tom Rawlings was now pushing harder and moved up from 6th to 4th place and only seconds away from a podium place. Alex Holliday joined the list of retirements as they also overshot a junction, hitting the kerbs and ripping off a front wheel.
After stages 4 and 5, Tindalls lead was now down to just 6 seconds ahead of Payne, as Rawlings leap frogged Tom Llewellin into 3rd place. James Hall and Eddie Lewis were having a great battle over 5th place as their times were very closely matched. The list of retirements was now rising as Ioan Lloyd, George Sheard, Dylan Fowler-Bishop and Adam Dalton had all lost fights with the concrete kerb’s and received assistance to get back to service.
As the drivers started the last stage of the day, Elliott Payne knew he had to push harder than he had all day to overturn the 6 second gap to Tindall in 1st place. Both drivers drove as close to the kerb’s as they dare and recorded exactly the same time to give Tindall his 4th successive win in a row. After recovering from a slow start in the morning, Tom Rawlings and Alan Gilbert looked to be in a comfortable 3rd place until their bonnet popped up and covered their windscreen 1 mile into the 10 mile stage. Both only had the 1″ gap under the bonnet to navigate their way around the complicated stage and would lose over 20 seconds to Llewellin, who snatched 3rd place back. Eddie Lewis recorded the 2nd quickest stage time to move back into 5th place ahead of James Hall and Simon Bradley.
The Lewis Reporting Pre ’03 trophy was won by the flying Rob Wilson in his red Micra, who extends his lead of the championship. Steven Jones brought his car home in 2nd place and Rob Cotton claimed 3rd. The Rookie Cup was once again won by 14 year old Elliott Payne, who made it three wins in a row and once again demonstrating his obvious natural talent.
Ewan Tindall once again showed his class under a huge amount of pressure both from his rivals and the magnetic kerb’s of Caerwent. The 16 year old Geordie has now scored a maximum 124 points from the opening four rounds and now has the title in his sights.
The next round of the championship travels north of the border to the Solway Coast in Scotland where the British championship combines with the Scottish championship for bragging rights of top Junior rally driver in the UK.