The Junior BRC is always a hotbed of action, offering blisteringly close competition and a chance for progressive youngsters to hone their skills on a variety of surfaces in the impressive Rally4 machinery or older generation R2 examples.
The two-wheel drive category has bred a huge variety of talent, with many going onto world level, including 2021 champion William Creighton and last year’s title holder Eamonn Kelly, both now competing at the sharp end of the Junior WRC.
With Kelly moving into Rally2 in the BRC this season, a new set of hard chargers made the trip to the opening round of 2023, the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Largely uncharted territory for most, there was however one familiar face on the entry list in the shape of Northern Irishman Kyle White.
White was arguably Kelly’s closest challenger last year, taking his maiden JBRC win at the Nicky Grist Stages but returns this season in the quest to finally seal the coveted title in his raucous Peugeot 208 Rally4.
Making the step up to the Juniors was 2022 Academy Trophy champ Kyle Mcbride who was making the most of his free entries prize and stepping into a Fiesta Rally4. The Ford driver was joined by Casey Jay Coleman who made the trip into the Juniors in 2021, returning this year with the benefit of a full season of experience under his belt.
The weather conditions added to the jeopardy of the first round with heavy snow and ice forcing a last-minute format change and tricky conditions for the Juniors.
White pulled up to the stop of the first stage in a frustrated mood, stating he “couldn’t seem to catch a break” in the sport. That was a reference to the flat front tyre on the Peugeot and having suffered the flat at the midpoint of the test was expecting the worst.
But by the time McBride and Coleman appeared, just three seconds separated the Juniors and remarkably, White was at the head of the pack. Two tests in Grizedale offered the perfect chance to enhance his lead and he took the bait, opening up a staggering 32 second advantage over Mcbride.
Whilst his experience showed, White didn’t have it all his own way. A suspension issue on the 208 Rally4 caused him to back off over the final two runs of Greystoke but such was his buffer, he could confidently claim his second Junior BRC win of his career, grabbing the perfect start to his campaign.
McBride could take plenty of positives too, taking his very first JBRC fastest stage time in Greystoke, and punching in a second one on the last test for good measure, assuring him of second spot.
Coleman secured third and secured his maiden JBRC podium in what was a tough day for all the crews in Cumbria.
The series now switches to asphalt and the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders at the end of May.