The third round of the Junior rally championship was held at the fast, rough stages of Melbourne in York. Once again, Ewan Tindall and co-driver Paul Hudson started as top seed after winning the first two rounds of the season. Fellow championship rivals Tom Rawlings, Tom Llewllin and James Hall came to the rally looking to stop Tindalls run of victories and improve their chances of lifting the title.
Despite the forecast for a hot sunny day, the competitors were greeted with rain showers in the morning, making the early stages very difficult.
Tindall, immediately stamped his authority on the rally by setting the quickest times over the first 2 stages, to establish a 7 second lead ahead of rookie Elliott Payne, who continues to impress.
Tom Llewellin and rookie Sam Adams were 3rd and 4th respectively, but both just a few seconds behind the leader. James Hall’s pace had been hampered by brake issues on his return to the venue that 12 months before, he had rolled his C1. Eddie Lewis had electrical issues in his Fiesta which hugely effected his pace in the event he had been expecting his new weapon to go well.
As the stages started to dry out by the hall way point of the rally, Elliot Payne and Co-Driver Simon Rogers had reduced the lead to 6 seconds, despite getting stuck behind a “spun and stalled” Ioan Lloyd near the finishing checkpoint. Tom Llewellin was now 14 seconds off the lead as Adams dropped from 4th to 5th as James Hall leapfrogged him for position.
After collecting podiums at both rallies this season, Tom Rawlings was disappointed to be down in 6th place on his first visit to the venue.
Eddie Lewis hopes of a good result also came to an end on stage 4 as the rough surfaces had caused an electrical component to come lose and his engine to cut out on stage. The team quickly found the issue, but a stage maximum was their reward.
In the Pre’03 Trophy an excellent battle was going on between Alex Holliday and Rookie Rob Wilson, with Holliday enjoying a slim 1 second lead at the half way point.
Ioan Lloyd had also been struggling with engine issues, but was loving the looser surface on offer. Fellow Micra drivers Adam Dalton and Steven Jones had found the morning stages challenging to find grip and they continued to learn and improve their rally driving skills.
After the crews had completed stage 6, bathed in sunshine, Ewan Tindall and Paul Hudson had started showing their greater experience and opened up their lead to 19 seconds over Payne and Rogers.
The rookie driver continued his faultless driving to stay ahead of Llewellin and Crozier who were charging for the 2nd place, but would now be 12 seconds behind. Hall and Bradley were still struggling with braking issues as they fought to stay in 4th place as Tom Rawlings and Alan Gilbert found their feet and moved up to 5th place.
Unfortunately, rookie Sam Adams was to make his trip back to Ireland earlier than expected as he suffered damage to his suspension, forcing him out of the rally.
Rob Wilson had also seized the initiative away from Alex Holiday for lead of the Pre ’03 Trophy as Holliday’s Micra also picked up suspension damage on stage 6, causing him to drop 44 seconds behind Wilson.
As the crews completed the last of the eight stages, Ewan Tindall and Paul Hudson comfortably wrapped up the win with a 22 second margin over the impressive Elliott Payne, who claimed his first podium place in only his 3rd event. Tom Llewellin and Richard Crozier brought their car home for an excellent 3rd place ahead of Tom Rawlings who pipped James Hall to 4th position by 12 seconds, as they continued to struggle to brake issues.
Riley Banks was happy with his best finish of 7th as he continues to make the switch from karts to rallying. There were also solid finishes for Steven Jones, Lwi Price Edwards, George Sheard and Adam Dalton who all brought their cars back in one piece.
Rob Wilson collected his 2nd Pre ’03 Trophy win in two rounds as he finished ahead of Alex Holliday and Ioan Lloyd. Elliot Payne also collected his 2nd Rookie Cup of the season after an excellent display.
Unsurprisingly, after winning all 3 rounds, Ewan Tindall leads the championship by 18 points to Elliott Payne who jumps into 2nd place ahead of Tom Llewellin in 3rd.
In an interview after the event, the victorious Ewan Tindall said “Three out of three isn’t too bad and we’re over the moon with that”, We managed to find a good rhythm in the afternoon and we extended the lead over Elliott Payne. He’s been amazing all day with great pace and so has Tom Llewellin. Its been a good battle”.
Elliot Payne said “The stages were really fast and I enjoyed it. We’ll try and push for 1st next time and we’ll have a good go”
Tom Llewellin in 3rd place wasn’t too disappointed and said ” very happy with the result. Its good championship points and puts us in a good position for the rest of the season. We’ll be pushing for a win at the event at Caerwent which will really suit me, so I’m looking forward to that”.