Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Junior Rallycross

Jess Gwynne

The British rallycross championships all run junior series for drivers aged fourteen to sixteen. The usual car used is a Mini; all are prepared in the same way. Other countries use different cars.
Recently, girls have been competing quite successfully in these races, with many due to cross over to senior competition. Below are some profiles.

Emily Axtell - competes in rallycross in her native New Zealand. She was the 2016 Junior champion in the Raleigh RallyX championship. This appears to have been her first season of competition. Further information about Emily is not forthcoming.

Shauna Baxter - commenced Junior Minicross racing for the 2010 season, in the BTRDA Junior Minicross Championship. Her best result in a final was third, although she struggled to qualify for finals in other rounds. She was eighth in the championship. Due to budgetary constraints, she has not competed since then. Her car was stolen in 2014.

Drew Bellerby – began competing in rallycross in 2013, taking a seat in the LHMC Academy Suzuki Swift, at Knockhill. She was fifteen. In 2014, she contested the whole of the Junior Swift championship, and was one of the leading drivers. She led the championship until the fourth round, and won two rounds outright, finishing second overall. In 2015, she had her final year in the Junior category. It started well, with a win in the first round, but Drew had to make do with second again, despite being tied for the title for much of the season. In 2016, she competed in the British Rallycross series in a Swift, as well as doing some rally co-driving. She was seventh in the Swift championship. At the end of 2016, she did her first rally as a driver, the Christmas Stages. She was 45th overall in a Swift, co-driven by her father. In 2017, she raced in the BMW Mini class of the BRC, and was second overall with three wins. She is the sister of Paige Bellerby.

Jessica (Jess) Gwynne - competitor in Junior Rallycross championship in 2007 and 2008, in both major championships. She has won races in 2008, including the final of the first MSA Championship round, and often finishes in the top five in the final. She was second in the Bill Gwynne Rallyschool MSA championship in 2008. In 2009, she raced buggies as part of the rallycross championship, and she made the transition to the senior scene in Legends in 2010. In Legends, she was fourth in the Rookie standings. In 2011, she returned to Legends, after a deal to run in the Porsche Carrera Cup fell through. She was 17th overall. She hopes to move into stage rallying, and has co-driven in some club events.

Jennie Hawkes – made her debut in British rallycross in 2014, at the age of fifteen, contesting the Swift Junior Championship. She was fourth overall in this small class, with a best finish of third, achieved at Knockhill and Blighton. She is part of a motorsport family, and competes alongside her father, Martin Hawkes. They were eleventh in the Swift team championship. She continued to race the Swift in 2015, and scored at least one third place. Part-way through the season, she turned 17, and made her debut in the senior series, driving a Mini. In 2016, she was sixth in the Mini championship, with a string of fourth and fifth places. She was eighth in the 2017 championship, having missed four rounds. Her best finish was another fourth.

Becki Johnson – entered the MSA Stars of the Future Junior Rallycross championship in 2004, driving a Mini. She does not appear to have raced since then, as a junior or a senior.

Samantha Thom - Junior Rallycross competitor from Northern Ireland. Her first forays into full-size competition were rallysprints, and she won one of them in 2006, aged just fourteen. Her car was a Vauxhall Nova. She started Junior Ralycross in a regulation Mini shortly afterwards. In 2007, she managed to win two rounds of the championship, and was third overall, as well as tackling the Irish championship. She did not run quite as well in 2008 and came fifth, with one second place. Although she has tried circuit racing in Ginetta Juniors, Samantha is more focused on rallying as a senior motorsport career. She began her stage rallying career in 2008, and has competed in a number of events since then. Her first car was a Peugeot 106. She won the Northern Irish Ladies' championship in 2010. In 2011, she started driving a Citroen C2 in Irish rallies, as part of the Citroen Racing Trophy. Her best finish seems to have been ninth, in the International Rally of the Lakes.

(Image from http://www.porschesport.com/)

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