Spalding’s star rises

The Glendun ARC Junior Cup showcased the rising stars of our sport, as part of the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship in 2022.

After a tense battle that went down to the wire at the Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally, Subaru pilots Molly Spalding and Douglas Johnson took home the season’s Junior Cup honours.

Spalding performed consistently across the season and secured the Cup victory by a narrow 10-point margin over James Dimmock and Paul Bennett, while Aidan Peterson and Mitchell Newton finished third for the year.

Photo: Peter Norton

The first event of the 2022 season saw Junior Cup competitors tackle Canberra’s Netier National Capital Rally. It was Dimmock and Bennett who took out the first Junior Cup win in 2022, after finishing the event ahead of Spalding and Johnson who finished 17th overall. Rounding out the three was Peterson and Newton.

Dimmock had strong pace across the weekend aboard his Ford Fiesta, and managed to build a solid margin back to Spalding during the opening stages. Unfortunately for Spalding, a slow run on the fifth stage meant the pair lost a further five minutes to Dimmock.

However, Spalding showed speed on Sunday finishing the 12th stage of the rally ahead of Dimmock by over 20 seconds and limiting the gap in the final time to 10 minutes.

It was a difficult opening round for Peterson and Newton who unfortunately recorded a DNF for the event on the opening stage aboard their Daihatsu Charade.

Photo: Dakar Press Team Australia

The Make Smoking History Forest Rally saw Spalding clinch Junior Cup victory in the event, ahead of Peterson who finished second.

Spalding dominated the first day of the event beating rival Peterson across eight of the 12 stages and building an impressive margin.

After a couple of difficult stages on day one, Peterson was able to regain some pace on the Sunday beating Spalding across the remaining five stages.

Competition between the pair was strong, with both driver’s stage times within 10 seconds of each other, with Spalding finishing 10 seconds behind Peterson on day two.

Photo: Angryman Photography

The reigning 2021 Junior Cup champions Ryan Williams and Brad Jones endured a difficult start to their 2022 campaign, but it was back on track after Shannons Rally Launceston.

The pair finished ahead of Dimmock and Bennett, while Tasmanian locals Peterson and Newton rounded out the Junior Cup in third.

Despite the pace of Dimmock and Bennett’s Ford Fiesta R200, it wasn’t enough to challenge Williams and Jones for the win, who dominated across the 12 stages.

The Middle of Everywhere Gippsland Rally saw the largest contingent vying for Junior Cup honours, the fifth round of the championship.

Dimmock and Bennett were able to pick up their second Junior Cup victory, after finishing nine minutes clear of Spalding and Johnson, with Peterson and Newton repeating their podium feat from the previous round.

Victorians Nicholas Seymour and Gordon Grant had a difficult run in Gippsland, the pair losing over nine minutes on stage seven and eight which sent them to the bottom of the field.

Williams and Jones were on track for a solid result after dominating the Cup across both days and building a three-minute lead over Spalding.

Unfortunately, the pair hit a rock on the 12th stage for the weekend, ending their rally early.

With the pair out, the race for the Junior Cup victory was between Spalding and Dimmock, with Spalding holding a slender 27 second lead heading into the Power Stage. However, Dimmock was able to steal the lead and the victory after issues for Spalding on the final stage.

It was a bumper weekend for Spalding in South Australia. Photo: Daniel Kalisz

A massive 28 stages and over 180 competitive kilometres made up the next event at the Adelaide Hills Rally, in which Spalding and Johnson dominated on home turf.

Their trusty Subaru RS Impreza secured a second Junior Cup victory, as well as finishing inside the outright top 10 in ninth.

Spalding secured victory over Dimmock by just two minutes after both drivers had been locked in a tight battle throughout the event. Finishing equal or within seconds of one another on multiple stages.

Swapping out their Daihatsu Charade for a Nissan Sunny, which Aidan Peterson’s father Lee Peterson campaigned to much success in the early 2000s, was not the change of fortune Peterson and Newton were looking for. A litany of overheating issues culminated in retirement after nine stages.

Teams Dimmock and Spalding share the podium celebrations. Photo: ZED Photography

The final stop on the ARC calendar was the Supercheap Auto Coffs Coast Rally, which saw Molly Spalding and Douglas Johnson crowned the Glendun ARC Junior Cup winners.

Newcomers Josh Wiedman, who comes across from the Motorsport Australia Off Road and SXS Championships, and co-driver Nicholas Reid showed what they could be capable of in their ARC debut, leading the Junior Cup by the end of Saturday’s running. Their lead didn’t carry over into Sunday, with a crash aboard their Ford Fiesta a cruel finish to their debut event.

Spalding finished just outside the outright top 10 in the final event, but was able to edge out a speedy Dimmock and Bennett to secure yet another Cup round win and the Glendun Junior ARC Cup title.

What the winners had to say:

Molly Spalding
“It’s amazing. I can’t believe we finally done that, especially first year (in the ARC),” Spalding said.

“I would love to do more rallies. At the moment I’m trying to line up some sponsorship for next year, but yeah, I want to come back and back it up.

“There’s been some amazing competition. We’re finally getting a feel for the car now as well because we’re in a new car this year. I definitely want to come back bigger and stronger next year.

“We’re basically a privateer team and a small team as well. Douglas puts in huge amounts of work as well as other team members along the way.

“Everyone’s put in that actually all and it’s paid off, which is great.”

Douglas Johnson
“It’s brilliant, we worked so hard all year and it was a really good result,” Johnson said.

“We went into the last round knowing we had to win, then we blew a tyre on stage one like one kilometre into the stage, so we lost about one minute and a half on that stage and had to change the tyre between the two stages.

“Although our main competition, Dimmock, was pulled over on stage two with his own incident and he lost a few minutes, so we were a minute and a half up at that stage.

“We are not 100% sure at this stage (if we will be in the ARC next year) Molly would love to but it is sponsorship dependant, as everyone knows it is expansive to do, but we would love to be there.

“Molly has improved tremendously, we went from the first round of the year where we were incredibly slow, we weren’t that confident coming out of that round at all, and we sat down and did a lot of work theory and practical on how we could improve, what to do, notes wise needed to change, and she made improvements every round.

“I’d like to thank all of our service crew, Molly did a great job, everyone that has helped us out all year all the sponsors we have got it’s been amazing.”

Junior Cup Driver Top 3:

  1. Molly Spalding – 370 points
  2. James Dimmock – 360 points
  3. Aidan Peterson – 160 points

Junior Cup Co-driver Top 3:

  1. Douglas Johnson – 370 points
  2. Paul Bennett – 360 points
  3. Mitchell Newton – 160 points