for Junior Rallying’s Tom Clark in Latvia
Junior Rallying’s Tom Clark finished an excellent 36th overall and 10th in the two wheel-drive category of this weekend’s Kalnanuiza Rally, only his second event in Latvia driving to his own pace notes. The rally was won outright by 17 year-old local Janis Karlins, who has progressed through the same route as British Junior Rallying drivers competing in Latvia, demonstrating the importance of the scheme.
14 year-old Clark and co-driver Aggie Foster enjoyed what Junior Rallying Manager, Gemma Price, described as “an excellent run”. Despite the beginnings of a cold, Clark adopted a mature approach to the technical event and arrived at the finish as the tenth-placed two-wheel drive car.
The second round of the RallySprint championship was also Clark and Foster’s second in Latvia. However, while their first, last month’s Kekava Rally was a relatively easy introduction, the Kalnanuiza event posed much more of a challenge, particularly for the pace notes.
The event featured far more technical stages, including blind corners on or following crests and gave a more representative taste of the nature of the Latvian stages. As a result, Clark’s pace notes for this event were more complex than his first event but as Price explains, this forms one of the cornerstones of the Junior Rallying proposition.
“Developing a pace note system to suit a variety of stage conditions is crucial to progressing as a driver. It’s all part of the learning process and exactly what we went through with Tom Cave in Latvia last year.”
In addition to being on hand to offer guidance and support, Price and the Junior Rallying team carefully monitored Tom’s physical performance, including his fluid intake, as the temperatures were in the mid 20°Cs. The event also saw a 13.5Km stage, relatively long for the RallySprint championship and making up almost ¼ of the total competitive distance for the event.
“We had no problems with the car this weekend,” said Clark. “We had a few moments, particularly on some of the corners over crests, but we managed to hold it together. The long stage was pretty challenging but also, extremely satisfying to complete a big test like that.”
The event was eventually won by 17 year-old Janis Karlins, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer EvoIX. The youngster had progressed through the same route that Junior Rallying has identified to develop British drivers’ skills and experience, by beginning with the Latvian RallySprint Championship and progressing to the National Rally Championship. This clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Junior Rallying programme, made possible by the exclusive partnership with the Latvian Automobile Federation.
One member of the Junior Rallying team unable to make the trip to Latvia this weekend though was Technical Manager, Peter Gladstone. He was hospitalised briefly on Thursday, when an errant driver reversed at high speed from a parking space and knocked him over as he unloaded luggage from the team transport at Bristol airport. He was initially diagnosed with suspected broken ribs and a punctured lung at the scene but on arriving at hospital, was found to have bruising but no breaks or punctures. However, he did require a considerable amount of broken glass to be removed from his body and was recovering at home as the team competed in Latvia with a replacement mechanic standing-in.