Jon takes up the Challenge on home soil(August 19, 2012)
2012 has been a season of ups and downs for young 17 year old Jon Armstrong, with a recent string of DNF's the Fermanagh teenager was looking to get a good result on his home event! The Ulster rally which took place from the 17th- 18th of August is based in Antrim and includes two days of action which seen nine BRC Challenge crews contest the Challenge part of the rally. Each day was Split into two separate rallies (Rally 1 and Rally 2) this is known as a double points scoring round and if Jon could get a good result here it would boast his season considerably.
Martin Brady, a very experienced and well-known co-driver is Jon's new co-driver for the event. Jon and Martin have been friends for a considerable amount of time now and Martin agreed to sit with the youngster for the Ulster rally, Jon picks up the story "I've known Martin for a while now through social networking sites and I needed a co-driver for a small event a few weeks before the ulster so I asked Martin would he sit with me and sure enough he was happy to do so! After that rally we talked about the Ulster coming up and I decided it would be good to have Martin there with his experience and wisdom, Martin agreed to it so I was very happy to have him with me this weekend!"
The first day of the rally had 5 stages and included 2 passes through the famous Torr Head stage. Stage one which was Torr Head, Jon and Martin put in a time good enough for fastest fiesta challenge car by nearly 40s and 3rd fastest overall in the challenge rally. On stage two the pair dropped a little more time to the front runners in the challenge rally but was still quickest fiesta challenge car by 37s and this meant Jon and Martin went into the first service with a healthy lead over their fellow fiesta competitors.
Keen not to lose his large lead in the fiesta challenge, Jon and Martin took it easier on the first stage of the second loop but they had chosen the right tyres for this loop as the rain just started to fall as they approached stage 3. A steady but confident run through here saw Jon leap frog himself into 3rd overall in the challenge again and further more increased his lead in the fiesta challenge. The final two stages of day one involved something which was new to Jon, and this was driving in the dark and to add to that his first ever stage in the dark would be the Roller-coaster which is Torr Head. Jon and Martin gave a very good performance through here and came through to be fastest overall in the challenge rally by 14s and moved into second overall due to a competitor crashing out of second place.
With one stage to go of the first loop Jon and Martin took another steady approach but yet again recorded fastest overall time in the challenge rally in the night. This secured 2nd overall on day one of the challenge rally and the pair won the fiesta challenge on day one by 3mins 21s. This gave Jon a boast in both championships as he was yet to score a point before the first day of the Ulster challenge rally.
Day 2 was a new challenge with 4 stages and more points were up for grabs, Jon took this opportunity and made the most of it on the second leg of the rally. Although Jon felt he had made a slow start to the day he was still the fastest fiesta on stage one and was 4th quickest overall in the challenge rally. Unhappy with his 1st stage to his day, Jon pushed very hard through the 15 mile Slieve Gallion stage and recorded 2nd fastest time overall and moved into 2nd overall at the mid-day service on day 2 with a healthy lead over the nearest fiesta.
Jon carried this speed onto the last two stages but was unable to keep up with quicker R2 and 1600 machinery, in the end he just held onto 2nd overall in the challenge rally after driving his hardest. This also meant he won day 2 of the fiesta challenge by some 4mins, picking up more valuable points.
A very happy Jon commented after the rally "We really needed this result, I have had disappointment the last 3 rallies and it was starting to get to me so a good result here was really something I needed. Martin was brilliant on the notes all weekend and we had a good push in all the stages but we could not catch Richard (Sykes). But I am over the moon to win the Fiesta Sport Challenge in this fashion on home soil!"