The Junior National Rally Championship is one of the most competitive classes in Irish rallying. The fastest under-27-year-old rally drivers from Ireland fight it out in highly modified rally cars for the crown which results in a Billy Coleman Award nomination and a chance at the 50,000EUR prize-pot it offers.
Brian Brady finished the year on top, in his Honda Civic, despite some stiff competition from rivals Jonny Treanor, Michael Boyle and Jason Black. Times set by the junior competitors in 2017 were more than a match for their senior counterparts in the main field, reiterating the high standard witnessed in 2017.
Adam caught up with the 2017 champion, Brian Brady, to find out how he finished on top and what he has got planned for the upcoming years.
Hometown: Oldcastle, Co. Meath
Rally car: Peugeot 208 R2, competed in a Honda Civic in 2017
Rally heroes: Colin McRae and Rory Galligan
I started rallying in 2010 by competing on the grass surface event which ran in Oldcastle. I won the Junior Grass Championship in 2011 and the Latton Autocross Junior Championship in 2012.
Season highs and lows:
Winning the Junior National Rally Championship and the West Coast Rally Championship.
Probably the most frustrating moment was our engine misfortune in Galway Summer Rally.
2017 Junior Championship:
I was very happy with our season as we were rewarded for our consistency.
We had a bad start to the year and championship when we had to use Rally 2 in Birr. The competition this year was very hard. There is a lot of junior talent in this country both north and south.
We always played the rounds of the championship safe. It was important to have the car ready for the next round. When we needed to up the pace we did. Driving a championship round is very different than a normal event.
Final round shoot-out:
Going into the final round we knew a second place finish, beating Michael [Boyle], would have us win the championship. Being too cautious on the first stage left us chasing our hopes and dreams for the rest of the day. We were seven seconds down coming into service with two stages to go. Then stage four was canceled, leaving only one stage to pull back the deficit. We give it our all and came out on top. It was unfortunate for Michael in what happened to him, it could have been very tight otherwise.
Has the speed, commitment and close competition improved your driving through the year?
Yes most definitely. It took us nearly the whole year to get the best out of the car. The Civic’s brakes and suspension took a lot of changing to get right and it wasn’t until Galway (Round 7) that I was able to trust the car. But our commitment was there all year.
Are Juniors too fast?
Yes. Junior rallying has come down to who has the most money. For someone starting out, it’s very hard for them to have the interest when they’re not getting the results they’d like, just because of a faster car beating them. It hasn’t just been in 2017 either, I’ve had to overdrive my previous cars to try and compete with others.
I am making the step up to a Peugeot 208 R2 and have a plan set out for 2018 already on both asphalt and gravel. My main aim is to improve and take the most from the gravel events I compete in.
I won’t be competing in the in the Junior Championship next year but we will be competing in events across Ireland, the UK and even further.
Competing at a world level.
Photos by Kevin Glendinning (KG Rally Pics)