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Armstrong's Scot no Luck in Dumfries

(July 02, 2013)

Fermanagh Teenager Jon Armstrong started Round 3 of the 2013 British Rally Championship in high hopes of improving upon his recent misfortune. The one day event, which is based in Dumfries saw the BRC competitors tackle 9 gravel stages in the Galloway forest complex.

The event would however be no walk in the park as Jon welcomed a new face to the Co-driver’s seat. Eighteen year-old Jack Morton from Newcastle which meant that Jon and Jack entered as the youngest crew in the rally, in fact only two days separated the pair.

It was to be Jon’s second event making his own pace notes, an art that takes a lot of skill and experience to get right. This combined with a new Co-Driver may have been of concern to others but Jon took it all in his stride. 

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Photo: DRF Rally Photos

The crew made their notes on Friday during the BRC Recce and went into Saturday morning’s stages a little anxious but optimistic. The rally started with a loop through Windy Hill, AE West and the Heathhall spectator stage before returning to service. This tested the relationship between Jon and Jack, and the pair came into the first service halt 3rd in R2 with some competitive times. Jon however admitted it had been a cautious start “We are only really getting use to each other, at the moment I am being careful because the stages are really rough and I need to gain experience”.

Holding third place would have put Jon in the line for being awarded the Pirelli Star Driver award on this round, as the two drivers in front had already been nominated. The partnership between driver and co-driver was getting stronger with each stage mile and every corner. This was shown on the second pass of Windy hill as they set 2nd fastest R2 time, taking some time out of the two drivers in front. Lady Luck then rose its ugly head about 4 miles into the second pass of the 13 mile stage AE West as a sharp stone pierced through the front left tyre. With no other choice but to stop and change, the time loss exceeded 5 minutes when one of the wheel nuts wouldn’t come loose. At the stage end Jon commented on the incident “We hit a stone with the front left tyre, it was a corner on a crest and the sharp stone was just sitting on the line. I tried to avoid it but it sliced a hole in the side wall and we had to stop and change”.

Dropping to 5th place in R2 meant that the pair had nothing to lose, so they went on a big push on the last 3 stages. On the 8 miles of stage 7, Jon recorded a time 3.6s slower than fastest R2 which was impressive as they had picked up a slow puncture about 1.5 mile from the finish. A remote service followed which gave the service crew a chance to check the car over before heading back into the Galloway forest for the last two stages. A delay was however to cause stage 8 being cancelled which meant that one final sprint through the 13.4 miles of Clatteringshaws would bring an end to the rally.

The final stage saw Jon and Jack get their first fastest R2 stage time by 31s, which was a fantastic way to end the rally. It left them to wonder what could have been if they had not picked up that puncture on stage 5. The pair ended the rally 5th R2 and 14th overall which promotes Jon to 3rd in the R2 Championship and he continues to lead the BRC newcomers standings.

The next event, The Ulster Rally, takes place on the 23rd and 24th of August. It is based in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh which is Jon’s home event. Stay tuned for a full preview!

Jon is partnered by: Monaghan Brothers, Jennings Fuels & Lubricants, Tyrone Truck & Trailer, Battery Energy Drink, Loane Transport Ltd, Lakeland Tyres, McKenna Farm Supplies and Drumhoney Holiday Park.

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