approaches conclusion for Junior Rallying
The first season of competition in Latvia for Junior Rallying, the scheme to develop the next generation of British rallying talent, is approaching it’s close. Next weekend sees four young British drivers compete in the last round of the Latvian RallySprint championship, the Aizpute Rally but hopefully, not their last event in Latvia this year.Three of the four drivers are approaching the end of Phase 2 of the Junior Rallying program, which sees them contest the RallySprint championship. Star of the season so far has to be 15 year-old Tom Clark from Essex, who has started and finished five events, improving his finishing position with each and every rally. For this event, he will again be partnered by co-driver Aggie Foster and driving his Suzuki Swift Cup car, as he looks to maintain his 100% finishing rate.Two more familiar names from Junior Rallying, Jamie Brown and Conor Flynn will also be competing next weekend. Jamie will again drive his Honda Civic while Conor will switch to a 205 Cup-specification Peugeot 205. Built to the same design as the cars competing in the one-make series in the UK organised by his father Pat, he feels that familiarity and the car’s specification will be better suited to the Latvian stages than the Mk3 Volkswagen Golf he has used so far.Dom Scott will not be competing this weekend, since a rally car failure on the previous round, compounded by a breakdown of the team’s service vehicle on the return trip means that the necessary infrastructure is not available to allow him to return this weekend. Despite the disappointment, he is keen to continue his competition in Latvia for next season, in the National championship.Junior Rallying figurehead Tom Cave will also be competing, as he seeks another signature for his license, which will move him one step closer to his international license and the next stage of his rallying career. His success in the two years he has competed in Latvia clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the scheme, giving young British drivers the best possible start in the sport of rallying.While Tom Cave is well-known to the Latvian Automobile Federation, the motorsport governing body in the Baltic state, the other Junior Rallying drivers have also been getting themselves noticed. With five finishes already this season, Tom Clark has already been invited to take part in the final round of the National Rally Championship, Rally Latvia in October. Tom is understandably excited about going head-to-head with the best drivers in Latvia on the flagship event, a full multi-day rally.If Jamie and Conor finish next weekend’s event, then they too will be invited to compete in Rally Latvia, since they will have collected the necessary three finishes to upgrade their licenses to allow them to take part. With Tom Cave also competing on the event, this will potentially see the four British Junior Rallying drivers contest the finale, a superb finish to the scheme’s first full season in Latvia.Junior Rallying Manager, Gemma Price, said; “This season has been nothing short of sensational, as far as Junior Rallying is concerned. We’ve seen some fantastic talent emerge from the UK, which would otherwise have been stifled for at least two more years. The fact that one of our Phase 2 drivers has already been invited by the Latvian Automobile Federation to contest Rally Latvia and two more will also be invited if they finish next weekend’s event is a clear signal that the scheme is achieving its objectives.“If Jamie and Conor do compete in Rally Latvia, we will have four British drivers taking part, all of whom are still younger than 17 years and hence, not even eligible to start learning to drive in the UK, which is a fantastic achievement. The LAF is considering creating a Nation’s Cup on the last event and if that happens, we hope that all four will take part and form Team GB on the event.“That would be a perfect way to round-off Junior Rallying’s first year, with a national team on the flagship rally.”In addition to the four drivers, the Roberts Twins, Charlotte and Jessica will also be visiting the event, on a fact-finding mission ready for next year. The most recent additions to the Junior Rallying scheme, the daughters of British Rally Championship competitor Martin Roberts have already begun their Phase 1 training in the UK and are looking to start Phase 2, the RallySprint championship, at the beginning of the 2009 season. Alongside them will be a potential three more drivers starting their competition career with Junior Rallying in Latvia.The Aizpute Rally begins with a short, tarmac superspecial stage in the town centre on the evening of Saturday 20 September before the action resumes on the gravel stages on Sunday, for 50 competitive kilometres before the crews arrive at the finish from 15.30, local time.