The 2014 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland will kick off this season at Kirkistown for the New Year Stages next weekend.
Seven rounds make up this exciting series for 14-17 year olds and with last year’s top two moving up to senior level rallying the series will have its third champion in three years in 2014.
The first round takes place over six special stages with a mixture of tarmac, loose and even concrete surfaces.
Favourite has to be William Creighton, who finished third in the series last season.
The Moira driver in his C1 won the third round at Bishopscourt last season, and made an impact on his first forays into the Scottish Championship, winning a round at Kames in October.
James Partridge, will be debuting the ex-Kyle White Peugeot 107 next weekend, and has had his first test in the car this week. This will further strengthen the Maze driver’s chances in 2014.
Another driver in a new car is Michael McGarrity. The 15-year-old Belfast driver, son of four times Northern Ireland Rally Champion, Derek, will be driving a newly built Citroen C1 and feels it’s a step up from last year’s Nissan Micra.
Michael has already shaken the car down at Kirkistown before Christmas and has a renewed focus on the series this season.
Likely to be the first ‘Micra Musketeer’ is Philip White from Crumlin. The 15-year-old who debuted in the series last year produced some excellent stage times and the car has undergone some detailed revisions over the winter months.
One of his big rivals from 2013, Eoghan Bogue, is currently looking for a car to compete in next weekend and the Newry driver is entering his third season in this series.
Already the Junior 1000 series has proven its worth for helping to develop young driving talent. Last year’s champion, 17-year-old Adam Bustard from Castlederg, won his second senior event - the Omagh Rally Time Trial - after making the transfer to a Group A Mitsubishi Evo.
Runner-up in the series last season, Kyle White, is also set to debut a Citroen C2 R2 Max next weekend and there is serious interest to see how these young chargers progress.