Round 6 of the Kick Start Junior 1000 Rally championship travelled to Caerwent, South Wales for the testing Patriot Stage rally. After the summer break, a capacity field of 16 juniors were entered into the rally which was set in the narrow road network across the military base. Bright but damp conditions welcomed the teams to the paddock as they prepared for the first of six stages which were in excess of 10 miles long. Giving the teams a real test of concentration and stamina as they tried to avoid the suspension crunching kerbs.
Coming into the event, Peter Bennett had a 39 point lead over the rest of the field and was looking forward to continuing his excellent record of finishing either first or second to extend his championship lead. Travelling over on the ferry with him from Belfast was Josh McErlean, who was looking for a forth win of the season and keep the pressure on Bennett.
With all drivers being warned about the vicious kerbs, the majority of the field
felt their way into the first stage before pushing harder on stage 2. However, Zak Hughes and Josh McErlean both pushed harder than everyone else and recorded exactly the same time over the 10 mile stage setting themselves up with an 18 second lead over flying Welshamn Tom Llewellin,
with Bennett a further 25 seconds behind. Tommi Meadows and Alex Tentori also looked set to have a battle of the Micra’s as they were closely matched early on. Unfortunately a clutch issue for local rookie Dylan Fowler-Bishop left him stranded on the stage and unable to be recovered until after stage 2.
His team rushed around and after a quick trip back to their workshop, managed to replace the clutch and get him back out for stage 3. A sudden downpour massively effected the times of the second half of the field still out on the first stage, with the top seeds luckily finishing whilst the track was still dry.
Huge drama struck on the second stage as championship hopefuls Hughes and Bennett both returned to service with damage. Hughes suffered two punctures during the stage, losing him 84 seconds to leader McErlean, who continued to extend his lead after stage 2 and 3. Bennett also had a puncture and damage to the underside of his car, causing an oil leak from his sump.
Meadows also picked up damage on stage 2, breaking a suspension mount, losing him time on the stage to his rivals. Another Micra driver pushing the limits on stage 2 was Alex Holliday. The 15 year old flyer approached a tight left hander almost flat out and was very lucky to avoid any damage to himself and the car as they came to a stop in the undergrowth. Whilst trying to free the car, Adam Ripper did a carbon copy of Holliday’s incident, parking up next to Hollidays stricken car. True sportsmanship shone out as Alex helped push Rippers car back on to the stage before getting himself back to service to check the damage.
Disaster also struck for George Sheard and his co-driver Tom Hutchings as an illness prevented the pair from continuing after stage 2. Riley Banks was looking for more seat time in his rookie year and after a trouble free first couple of stages, blew his engine during stage 3,ending his day early.
As the teams completed the half way mark of the days rally, McErlean led by a huge 44 seconds over Tom Llewellin. Zak Hughes released some of his frustration from the earlier punctures and recorded the fastest time on stage 3 to move back into 3rd place overall.
Having a great day in 5th place, was rookie Tom Rawlings who continued his solid drive in the previous round, by adding more pace to each stage. James Hall and Alex Tentori were also setting very competitive times in 6th and 7th places. However, the kerbs caught another victim in James Hall who finished stage 4 with damaged rear suspension, dropping a couple of minutes on the teams ahead.
Impressing all of the clubs members was 14 year old Steven Jones who was making his debut in the championship. Jones found himself in a very respectable 10th place, ahead of older and more experienced teams.
Over the last couple of stages, McErlean managed the healthy time gap between himself and a charging Zak Hughes and Tom Llewellin to finish the final stage with a lead of over 30 seconds.
Championship leader, Peter Bennett’s day didn’t have a fairy tale ending as he brought his car home in 7th place overall for his lowest finish of the season.
The dream duo of Tommi Meadows and co-driver Gareth Hooper pipped Alex Tentori and Craig Bellworthy to finish as top Micra with an overall finish of 5th and 6th. The driver with the biggest smile on his face was undoubtably Tom Rawlings, who in only his 5th event and 3rd in his new car, finished in 4th position overall and on the way set the 2nd quickest times on 3 of the stages.
Unfortunately, after the results of a post rally technical check, Josh McErlean and co-driver Damien Duffin were excluded from the rally results, meaning Zak Hughes had fought back to win the event and keep his championship hopes alive after earlier disappointment. This also promoted Tom Llewellin and Ross Whittock to 2nd and a maiden podium place for Tom Rawlings and Christopher Woodhouse.
Here are the highlights from round 6:
Here are the final standings over the Patriot Stage Rally:
|Car No||Driver||Co. Driver||Class||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 3||Stage 4||Stage 5||Stage 6||Total|
|87||Zak Hughes||Chris Evans||10||15.48||17.01||14.39||14.31||14.50||14.40||01.31.29|
|89||Tom Llewellin||Ross Whittock||10||16.06||15.57||15.00||14.41||15.00||14.54||01.31.38|
|96||Tom Rawlings||Christopher Woodhouse||10||16.54||16.13||14.59||14.42||14.57||14.48||01.32.33|
|88||Tommi Meadows||Gareth Hooper||10||16.34||16.16||15.09||14.50||15.28||14.56||01.33.13|
|94||Alex Tentori||Craig Bellworthy||10||16.43||16.15||15.18||14.40||15.18||15.04||01.33.18|
|86||Peter Bennett||Andrew Bushe||10||16.13||18.22||15.16||14.44||15.50||15.09||01.35.34|
|90||James Hall||Simon Bradley||10||16.47||16.18||15.07||16.50||16.27||15.54||01.37.23|
|91||Alex Holliday||Paul Sheard||10||16.44||20.00||15.41||15.16||15.41||15.35||01.38.57|
|98||Edward Lewis||Emma Morrison||10||17.22||16.59||15.49||15.29||17.44||16.15||01.39.38|
|95||Lwi Price Edwards||Keegan Rees||10||17.10||17.40||16.27||16.30||17.07||17.01||01.41.55|
|93||Adam Ripper||Nigel Banks||10||17.08||18.58||16.17||20.00||17.27||17.29||01.47.19|
|92||Dylan Fowler- Bishop||Alun Jaffa Griffiths||10||30.00||30.00||16.12||16.00||16.30||16.18||02.05.00|
|97||Riley Banks||Paula Suinscoe||10||17.47||17.08||00.00||00.00||00.00||00.00||Retired|
|99||George Sheard||Tom Hutchings||10||18.14||00.00||00.00||00.00||00.00||00.00||Retired|
|100||Steven Jones||Christopher Brierley||10||17.36||17.26||16.04||00.00||00.00||00.00||Retired|