Aug 03, 2015
The sixth round of the 2015 McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland, took place at Shackleton, near Ballykelly, for the Maiden City Motor Club’s Dogleap Stages Rally. The Junior entry was a quality one, with current English series leader Charlie Barlow joining the eight starters in his Micra.
It was to be an incredibly competitive day, with victory going in Daniel Harper’s favour, but any one of five drivers could have won the event, in what were extremely challenging conditions. Starting at number one was Kilrea’s Josh McErlean, who is now confirmed the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland winner, after his round five victory at Bishopscourt. It’s been an excellent season for the 15 year old Kilrea driver, with two wins at Kirkistown, one at St.Angelo and one at Bishopscourt in July. Next year the team plan to contest the series again, but with a few trips to England also a possibility. Shackleton started off well for Josh, joint second fastest, as Peter Bennett stole the march with a time three seconds faster than anyone. Michael McGarrity tied on time with Josh, with Daniel Harper and Philip White were a few seconds further back.
But 14 year old Peter Bennett, who is in contention for the Scottish series held onto a one second lead over McErlean on stage two. A spin on stage three and an over-shoot on four meant that fifth place was the end result, after another spirited attack from the Loughgall driver. That should have left McErlean with a nice lead, but on stage three, Daniel Harper got back into the groove after a long lay-off, scoring a very fast time and moved into joint second place with a very on form Michael McGarrity, both within two seconds of Josh. Philip White was putting in a fine display in his Micra, keeping in touch with the leaders and on stage four, where conditions where very wet he too put in a stunning fastest time, moving into third place. Second fastest was McGarrity who moved into a one second lead over Harper, as McErlean struggled to the end of the test with a broken gear linkage, dropping back to fourth.
Behind the leaders, Nottingham’s Charlie Barlow was enjoying his first visit to Shackleton, taking time to get used to the venue, and his pace started to quicken up, as he over-took the similar Micra of Co.Armagh’s Karl Johnston, these pair finishing sixth and seventh. Strabane teenager Jack Cairns would take eighth on the final results, very much enjoying his rally in his Peugeot 107.
The main emphasis was on the lead race between McGarrity, Harper and White, who was just four seconds off the lead going into the final two tests. On stage five Harper took the lead, as Michael McGarrity had a half spin. He had been on the pace all day however, and it was a great showing from the Glengormley driver to finish second. Third was undecided as a late charge from Josh McErlean, left him on equal time with Philip White, Josh taking third on the tie-break. It was a great result for Philip however, especially with the similarly mounted opposition behind him.
The winner was 14 year old Daniel Harper however in his Peugeot 107. It took the Anahilt teenager a while to settle in, as the last Junior event he contested in May lasted a matter of seconds, but once the initial steady runs were gone through, he was able to come onto the leading pace, and take his second win of the season- a real confidence boost. It was once again an epic race -second for second- every gear change counting, as the challenge proves its ferocious competitiveness. The series is also supported by the rally classified website www.rallysales.eu heads next for the final round next weekend on the Solway Coast in Scotland, where over thirty junior crews will go head to head as three challenges meet.
2015 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland- Rd 6 Positions
1st Daniel Harper/ Andrew Bushe Peugeot 107 +36m 12s
2nd Michael McGarrity / Sean Topping Citroën C1 +6s
3rd Josh McErlean / Thomas McErlean Peugeot 107 +9s
4th Philip White / Martin McGarrity Nissan Micra +9s
5th Peter Bennett / Arthur Kierans Citroën C1 +38s
6th Charlie Barlow/ Tom Hutchings Nissan Micra +1m16s
7th Karl Johnston/ John Henderson Nissan Micra +1m30s
8th Jack Cairns/ Brian Hoy Peugeot 107 +3m37s
Driver Championship Points after Round 6
1 Josh McErlean 63
2 Michael McGarrity 48
3 Peter Bennett 46
4 Daniel Harper 39
5 Philip White 34
6 Karl Johnston 22
7 Jack Cairns 20
8 Bailie McClinton 16
9 Ruairi Bell 10
10 Sam Stewart 8
2015 McGrady Insurance Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland Remaining Calendar
Date Venue Organising Club
9th August Solway (Scotland) Solway Car Club
29th December Shackleton Maiden City MC (Reserve)
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