The young Scottish driver was the worthy winner of the 2022 John Easson Award, which has a total prize fund of £6,000.
The money will go towards paying entry fees and tyres for Johnnie’s attack on the 2023 Scottish Rally Championship, freeing up part of his budget to do the one thing he’s been unable to do so far – and that’s to go testing.
“It was brilliant to be selected in December, and join the long list of very accomplished previous winners,” said Johnnie, who lives in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire.
“The money that goes with the award will make such a difference to our season, especially as we are running a new car.
“We will now be able to go pre-event testing, something we’ve never been able to do because we simply couldn’t afford it.”
After winning the 2022 UK Asphalt Junior Championship and the class N3 title in his Fiesta ST, the 21-year-old has decided to switch to a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Evo 7 for a tilt at the SRC Challengers class.
Designed for competitors who haven’t finished in the top ten overall, the class excludes WRC and R5 machinery.
Johnnie explained: “The ST has been a great car for me, but I needed to make a step up for 2023. I could have gone down the R2 route, which would have given me 30 bhp more than the ST, but would cost up to £40,000.
“Going to an Evo doubles the power, and gives me four-wheel-drive, for less than an R2.
“Competition in the Challengers is going to be pretty close with only a handful of seconds between cars, and that is where I want to be.
“It’s going to make such a difference to be able to test beforehand, making sure everything clicks and I’m happy with the car instead of having to do it on the rally itself.
“It’s also going to be a massive help as the format of the SRC alternates between tarmac and gravel. Although I consider myself a neat and smooth driver with a preference for tarmac, setting fast times in an Evo on gravel requires a different driving technique.
“I can’t wait for the first round, the Snowman Rally in March, when I can fly the flag for the 2300 Club.”