The annual trip up to Scotland for the Solway Coast Junior rally brought together the best young rally drivers from the national, Scottish and Irish championships. Ewan Tindall arrived at the event, leading both the National and Scottish championships and looking to extend his lead. However, rookie Elliott Payne, Tom Llewellin, Tom Rawlings and James Hall were determined to stop Tindalls run of wins and get their first win of their junior career.
The event was set up over 9 stages across the huge Dunbrennan Military base, with some stage starts miles away from the service area, so keeping the cars in one piece was now more important than ever. Tom Llewellin set the pace in stage 1, but was reeled back in on stage two by Tindall as he took a slim 1 second lead, ahead of James Hall in 3rd, who was 14 seconds further back. Elliott Payne had set the 2nd quickest time on the opening stage, but a damaged fuel pump left him stranded on stage 2 and out of contention for trophy glory.
The field was very evenly matched with Eddie Lewis, Tom Rawlings, Rob Wilson and Sam Adams all setting great times within seconds of the leaders. Riley Banks was also enjoying a strong run in his freshly built 107, proving the car had been built well and was ready for the rough stages. Unfortunately for Ioan Lloyd, he ran wide at one of the tight corners, leaving the car stuck in a ditch. They were able to get the car out and complete the stage, but would lose several minutes of time and also put him out of contention for the Rookie Cup and Pre ’03 Trophy. Fellow rookie’s Rob Wilson and Rob Cotton were flying in their Micra’s and would sit 7th and 8th respectively, ahead of more powerful cars at half way.
As the drivers completed stage 4, the expected rain started to fall. Ewan Tindall and co-driver Paul Hudson had opened up 19 second lead over Tom Llewellin, as a 5th consecutive victory of the season seemed to be on the cards. Only 14 seconds separated James Hall in 3rd and Tom Rawlings in 6th as the crews headed into the second half of the rally.
The Scottish weather then turned very ugly as the rain lashed down and the wind picked up. This made stage 5 incredibly difficult for the drivers and a lengthy delay occurred after an accident with one of the Scottish drivers caused the stage to be stopped and sending the crews back to service before stage 6 started. Fortunately, driver and co-driver were both unharmed and the stage cleared. The organisers were then forced to abandon stages 6, 7 and 8 and after the safety clerk had inspected the route for final stage 9, the rally resumed. Tindall knew that he just had to have a clean run as he had a 19 second lead over Llewellin in 2nd, but with uncertainty over the remaining standing water and loose gravel ,anything could happen.
After all of the crews arrived back into service after the final stage and the timings were confirmed, Ewan Tindall had managed to go 4 seconds faster than Llewellin, giving him both the win of the National championship and the overall win. Rookie Sam Adams had pushed hard enough on the final stage to overturn the 8 second gap to James Hall and snatch 3rd place by 2 seconds! This pushed Hall into 4th ahead of Tom Rawlings, Eddie Lewis, Rob Wilson and Rob Cotton, who had his best ever finish.
Taking the honours in the Rookie Cup was Sam Adams and Rob Wilson collected his 4th Lewis Reporting Pre ’03 Trophy of the season ahead of Rob Cotton and Steve Jones.