The speed of the frontrunners in Irish rallying’s Junior classes has been turned up since the start of the 2017 season. Drivers such as Jonny Treanor, Michael Boyle, Brian Brady and Jason Black are pushing each other that hard they are going even quicker than their equivalent competitors in the senior field.
Modified Honda Civics have ruled the category recently but Black has also added his rear-wheel drive Toyota Starlet into the mix this year.
Treanor’s time on stage five of the Monaghan Stages Rally, which would have put him fifth overall in the main field, raised eyebrows but it was not until the Sligo Stages Rally that the Juniors’ times were consistently better than their senior counterparts.
After the first six stages in Sligo, had Treanor been in the rally’s main field he would have been in 11th position. This would have left him as the quickest driver of a two-wheel drive car with five World Rally Cars, three R5 cars and a Mitsubishi Evo ahead of him.
Jason Black also had one of his strongest performances in Sligo as he finished the day second in the Junior class behind Treanor’s Civic. After the first five stages in Sligo Black would have been in 13th position in the main field. A conservative final stage dropped him back to 17th after six stages.
An accomplishment made more notable by the fact the 19-year old is driving a Starlet powered by a 1600cc Vauxhall engine which is considerably underpowered in comparison to the 2000cc and 2500cc rear-wheel drive cars he would be competing against.
Brady, who leads the National Rally Championship’s Junior class in his Civic, finished in third position in Sligo’s Junior class, just 20 seconds behind Black. Combined with Boyle’s pace over the first four stages, who slid off the road on SS5, re-iterates how fast the Junior class has become in the past six months.
Commitment was the key ingredient in Sligo with extreme conditions, including heavy rain and dense fog, proving a big test for all the drivers. The fact that the younger drivers led the way in tackling Sunday’s tricky stages goes a long way in showing the potential that lies within the current crop of Ireland’s young rally drivers.