It’s been three long years since Northern Irishman Kyle White burst onto the British Rally Championship scene and ever since, his goal has been a simple one; secure the Junior BRC title.
All the signs of a ‘peddler’ were there from the off. In a post-covid 2021 season, White nailed his flag to the mast on the very first round at Oulton Park with second place. Made even more impressive by the fact that he and co-driver Sean Topping were in older specification R2 machinery, whilst those around him blasted around the Cheshire circuit with much more brake horsepower, a turbo and Rally4 specification upgrades.
Third on the gravel of the Nicky grist gave him a surprising but well-deserved championship lead, but from there on in, his luck turned and he would fall to fifth by the season’s end, albeit with some giant killing along the way.
2022 saw the arrival of a Peugeot 208 Rally4 and his campaign went from strength to strength, standing on the podium of the opening two rounds, before he secured his maiden Junior BRC victory at the Nicky Grist Stages.
Right in the mix, he would be locked in a duel with 2021 runner-up Eamonn Kelly for the coveted title, but a mechanical issue on the Grampian hampered his chances and with Kelly taking a win at Rali Ceredigion, White would end the season third.
On his third attempt, a re-invigorated White returned to the Junior BRC this season and with his age against him, it was now or never.
In typical fashion, it was a strong start to the season, winning the Malcolm Wilson Rally and Jim Clark Rally to head the standings once again in the early stages. His nearest challenge this time came from reigning Academy champion Kyle McBride, who was stepping up to the Juniors in his Fiesta Rally4.
McBride took runner-up spot in Cumbria before a sizeable accident in the Scottish Borders took him out of contention, although he managed to salvage second after an epic team effort to rebuild the Fiesta overnight.
A blot in White’s copybook came in Belgium as White put the Peugeot into one of the infamous ditches, and it wasn’t plain sailing in Ypres for McBride either, who suffered mechanical woes, giving Casey Jay Coleman his maiden Junior BRC win.
Normal service was resumed in Ulster though as White secured a home win and he repeated that honour at Rali Ceredigion. A non-finish for McBride in Aberystwyth meant it would be an uphill struggle to grapple the title from the hands of White, but with double points at the final round, the Cambrian, it was very much game on.
McBride took full advantage of White’s absence in Yorkshire to seal his first Junior BRC win and take the fight to Wales.
It was the Peugeot driver who was in the box seat, with White just needing a finish to claim the crown that he had been trying to secure since 2021.
But there was drama early on for White, his Peugeot 208 Rally4 suffering a boost issue on the very first stage, allowing McBride to head off into the distance. However, with just a finish required, White and co-driver Sean Topping nursed the Peugeot back to service where an ECU reset was carried out, ensuring the car was back to full health for the afternoon loop.
McBride’s pace was impressive, but White returned a mature drive over the remaining tests, doing all he needed to do to take the Junior BRC title back to Northern Ireland.
“I can’t really put it into words at the moment” said an emotional White, “it might just make me cry”.
“It’s been an incredible three years in the Junior BRC, the pace has been insane all year, especially with the likes of Max [McRae], Kyle [McBride] and all the other guys coming over, it’s been great to see. But, wow, I really can’t believe it.”
“We are just a wee four-man team from Northern Ireland and to come here and do this, well it’s just extra special.”
It’s been a long time coming for White and Topping. Even the mid-season arrival of a new baby didn’t halt White’s desire for the title, and it duly paid off. It means a lot to the Northern Irishman and the small team that surrounds him.
We hope they revel in this for a very long time to come…