Snow and ice prove no problem to Armstrong in Latvia(February 12, 2015)
KESH driver Jon Armstrong was pleased with a fifth placed finish on his Junior European Rally Championship debut at Rally Liepaja in Latvia over the weekend.
Driving a Peugeot 208 R2 and partnered by Noel O'Sullivan junior, the 20-year-old, who had never competed on snow or ice or outside the UK and Ireland before, proved on the pace throughout a confidence-boosting weekend.
After a gruelling event in horrendous wintry conditions he finished with 15 championship points, behind winner Emil Bergkvist, from Sweden, second-placed Steve Røkland, from Norway, third-placed Ralfs Sirmacis, from Latvia, and fourth-placed Mattias Adielsson, from Sweden, and ahead of Peugeot UK backed driver, Chris Ingram, who was sixth.
Prior to making the long journey home, Armstrong described his maiden Junior ERC outing as a 'batism of fire', saying: "The first stage was my first time on snow on studs and it was a bit of a baptism of fire. I got into it okay and the time was good.
“The second stage we had an overshoot on a left corner towards the start and I had to reverse backwards to get back on so we lost about 15 seconds. We also slightly overshot a junction on stage seven.
“There were places where I could have gone faster on this rally but we came here to score points and that's what we've done and it and it's not bad for my first time on snow.
“On Saturday, the first loop was OK, but on the second loop, the 37K stage was all gravel and I lost all the studs on the tyres, which made it quite difficult because it felt like I was driving with a puncture. The show tyres aren't designed to be driven with no studs - it was a bit hairy at times and we lost some time because some of the other more experienced drivers protected their tyres better.
“There was more snow on the stages on Sunday and we were pretty close to the top boys, but they weren't short stages, the 37K stage goes on a bit and took us about 23 minutes to finish it!
“It was difficult to see at times in the snow on Sunday, especially if you were in an open section with no trees. There were cross-winds, blowing the snow across the road, which you couldn't see. There was a good 10 inches of snow in places.
“I'm happy with how it finished up - fifth out of 16 starters isn't too bad! I was the first non-local or Scandinavian and first UK driver.
“It was good to prove ourselves, it was a good experience and I'm happy to get some points and hopefully I'll be able to push for the podium at the Circuit of Ireland," he concluded.
The remaining events on the FIA ERC Junior Championship 2015 calendar are as follows:
Circuit of Ireland Rally (Northern Ireland, asphalt), April 2-4;
SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal, gravel), June 4-6;
Geko Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt), June 25-27;
auto24 Rally Estonia (gravel), July 17-19;
Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic, asphalt), August 28-30.
To keep up-to-date with Jon's 2015 plans or to contact him about becoming a potential partner or sponsor, visit Jon Armstrong Rallying on Facebook and www.jonarmstrong.co.uk.