Round 2 of the 2017 Junior Rally championship was held at the wide open, fast straights of the Harlech stages at Llanbedr Airfield where the drivers would face 46 miles over 8 stages. A new venue for the championship and a new challenge for all of the drivers. With the return of Tom Llewellin and the previous performances of Ewan Tindall, Tom Rawlings and James Hall, everyone was expecting a very close contest for the top positions.
After setting the quickest times in both of the opening 2 stages, Ewan Tindall had established an 11 second lead over Tom Llewellin, With Tom Rawlings only 3 seconds further back. Elliot Payne showed his excellent pace to set the quickest times of the rookie drivers and an impressive 5th place overall.
Rob Wilson was also pushing his Micra to its limits to sit at the top of the Pre ’03 Trophy leader board and 6th overall. After confusion at a split, it was disaster for Eddie Lewis as he did an extra loop of the stage, adding over a minute to his time and ending his hopes of a good result in the new Fiesta.
At the halfway point, the challenge from 4th placed James Hall was virtually over as a burst radiator pipe forced the team to stop on stages 3 and 4 and take a maximum time. At the top of the leaderboard, Tom Rawlings started making the biggest move by recording the quickest times in SS3 & SS4 to close the gap to Tindall to 7 seconds and moving him ahead of 3rd placed Llewellin.
Billy Grew’s bad luck continued in his rookie season as a broken drive shaft on stage 3 forced him to take a maximum time on SS3 and miss SS4 while repairs took place. Elliot Payne continued to extend his lead as top rookie and Rob Wilson was fighting off the challenge from Ioan Lloyd for the Pre’03 Trophy lead.
Reversing the direction of the stages on SS5, did nothing to change the charge of Rawlings as he set the quickest time on SS5. But Tindall and Llewellin would fight back, setting quicker times on SS6 to put Tindall into a 10 second lead going into the final 2 stages. Tom Llewellin was now only 3 seconds behind 2nd placed Rawlings and ready to pounce.
Tindall was pushing hard on SS7 and impressively set the quickest time to extend his lead, giving him slightly more breathing space with one stage to go. Llewllin had also taken 2 seconds out of Rawlings advantage, to leave himself only 1 second behind in the last stage. Llewellin then chose the right moment to set his quickest stage time of the day, which leapfrogged him into 2nd place and 4 seconds ahead of 3rd placed Rawlings.
Elliot Payne also set one of the quickest times on SS8 to comfortably win the Rookie cup and send a message to the more experienced drivers that he’s ready to compete at the top of the leaderboard. The Pre ’03 Trophy was won by the flying Rob Wilson, who finished with a over a minute lead over Ioan Lloyd in 2nd and Steven Jones in 3rd.
Ewan Tindall has now extended his lead at the top of the championship after taking back to back wins in the opening 2 rounds. Tom Rawlings stays in 2nd place with Ioan Lloyd and George Sheard tied for 3rd place overall.
The next round of the Junior 1000 Rally championship comes from the tough John overend Memorial stages in York in 2 weeks time.