Rally youngsters coast to third place in Solway event

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Borders Junior 1000 rally crew Sandy Fairbairn and Callum Atkinson enjoyed their first podium finish of the season in the Usedcarpets Solway Coast Rally.

A group of 27 crews gathered near Kirkcudbright on Saturday, the first time that competitors from all three UK national Junior 1000 Rally Championships would compete in the same event.

The military range roads of the Kirkcudbright Training Area presented a real challenge for the young drivers aged 14 to 17 years, who also had the tail end of Hurricane Bertha to contend with.

The event was won by Alex Vassallo,16, in his Citroen C1, with Michael Gilbey co-driving, while second crew home were Michael Robertson, 17, and Phil Sandham in their Toyota Aygo.

In third Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge place, and eighth place overall, delivering the promise he has shown since joining the Championship in 2013, was Earlston’s Sandy Fairbairn,17, in his Nissan Micra. He was accompanied by experienced, and front-running Scottish Rally Championship driver, Callum Atkinson from Lauder. At one stage they had been as high as fourth overall.

Their day was not without drama. They returned to the pits from the first of two stages with a rear shock absorber punched through into the boot area. But Sandy and dad Warren had the Micra returned to full strength in a very short time. Sandy loves wet and slippery conditions, having done a lot of his training on ice lakes in Sweden.

The next round of the Brick and Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge is at Knockhill on August 30.