For 20-year-old Kyle White from Dunmurry, the 2016 rally season has been one of great highs and a few disappointments, but once again the former Junior 1000 Rally winner has shown great speed and skill.
Last Saturday with co-driver Sean Topping, he overcame the monsoon conditions in his Citroen C2 R2 Max on the Northern Ireland Championship Down Rally to finish a fine 11th overall, and second in class.
“The conditions to start were very difficult, and we could hardly see on the first two stages due to a misted windscreen,” he said. “Then after that things got better and better for us. We didn’t take any big risks but we were delighted to finish and get a result. Now we would love to move up to a Peugeot 208 R2, and look at contesting the Irish Tarmac Championship,” added White.
“They are good rallies and with TV coverage, that should help us to attract more sponsorship which we really need. LA Distribution and Gary White Car Sales have been our main sponsors this year, and a big help to date.”
White ended the year with third place in the Junior class in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, but a spell of retirements whilst running well scuppered any chances of a win.
The year started with an amazing third overall finish on the non- championship New Year Stages at Kirkistown, before an equally excellent 14th overall, and first in class finish on the Pacenotes Stages event also at the Co. Down venue.
On the tough two-day Circuit of Ireland Rally, Kyle didn’t put a wheel wrong to take another superb class win, punching in times amongst the top British Championship R2 runners in the tricky conditions.
“That was really the highlight of the year for me. It was a superb event, and on the Bucks Head stage we took over 40 seconds off our closest NI rival,” White said.
and ended up just a second slower than Rob Duggan in the Vauxhall Adam.”
However, a run of ill-fortune followed, firstly with a puncture on the first stage of the Tour of the Sperrins.
On the Mourne Rally in June, the gear-stick broke on the first proper junction and when the temporary repair failed they were out once again.
On the Tyrone Stages White was an impressive eighth overall, just ahead of rival Adam Bustard, when he clipped a lorry tyre at a chicane and broke the steering.
The bad luck continued into the Ulster Rally, when a drive-shaft coupling broke on the final long Rousky stage.
“That was a gutting one, as we were coming back into contention and on a charge on that stage,” White said. “At that point we knew the championship challenge was over.”
Back to gravel for the Bushwhacker Rally based near Omagh and another drive-shaft breakage occurred with White running second in the Juniors.
White, who works as a mechanic in the family business, started his motorsport career in karting before moving into the Junior 1000 rally championship, where he was twice runner-up.
Now for 2017 this talented young charger wants to move on and up in the rallying world.