PANTON AND FENNELL WIN SUMMER NIGHTS RALLY
Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell (Rubis / Sandals Barbados / KIG Ford Focus WRC06) won the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Summer Nights Rally on Saturday (August 27), continuing this year’s impressive run of success in island events.
While he won nine of 11 stages run and led throughout, Panton was reflective at the finish: “Despite winning, I’d say we had a poor rally. We battled numerous issues and made quite a few mistakes with untidy driving and spins. We had tyre issues, suspension issues and a leaking hydraulic system, making it quite miserable . . . and we weren’t able to go head to head with Roger, as he had issues, too.”
The four-wheel-drive entry had already dropped to four, with Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho (GpN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) a non-starter, and was soon reduced yet further, when Roger Hill (Toyota Corolla WRC – suspension damage) and Roger Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC 12B – launch control failure) retired by the end of SS2. Andrew Mallalieu drove a tidy event, however, to win Group N in his Impreza N10, seventh overall.
But that did not detract from the entertainment for fans, as the 2wd battle was as intense as ever, despite the loss of Josh Read (SuperModified 2 Toyota Starlet – engine misfire) and Rhett Watson (SM3 BMW M3 – throttle cable) from the overall running on SS1, Watson the only retirement to return later. Roger Mayers (SM2 WR Starlet) split Panton and Skeete on the first Spring Vale to Dark Hole and was in touch with them on Lion Castle to Hangmans Hill and the second Spring Vale, to lie second, when his rally came to an abrupt end: “We developed a gearbox problem, where it was no longer down-shifting as it should. We tried to fight it, but it would have been too dangerous to continue with the unpredictable down-shifting.”
So, just three stages in, Mayers and Skeete were out . . . but there were family members ready to represent. Barry Mayers, with new gearbox ratios fitted to the SM2 Ford Fiesta, had been closer to his brother than during Sol Rally Barbados and was third at the first service break, with Dane Skeete (SM2 Peugeot 306 Maxi) fourth and an impressive Mark Kinch fifth, leading SM3 in his BMW M3.
As crews tackled the second loop of three stages before the Dinner Break, both Mayers and Skeete had their own problems, but they were manageable – indeed, Skeete was fastest overall on the second run down to Hangmans Hill, with Mayers second and the leaders of Modified 2 and M1, Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic) and Neil Corbin (Starlet) completing the top four . . . a 2wd performance not witnessed in years!
Mayers lost his power steering: “I didn’t have the strength to allow the car to go sideways, so I had to keep it really clean, as the steering was very hard; it was a battle to make it to the final stage, but I am still happy as I know there is a lot more to come.”
Skeete headed Mayers on all the remaining stages, except for the first run through Todds to Bowmanston, which Mayers won outright, but Skeete had problems, too: “We found some slight suspension damage and knowledge of things like that and unpredictable reliability makes it a little difficult to give 110 per cent.”
By the Dinner Break, Panton led by more than 27 seconds, from Skeete, with Mayers, Clarke, Corbin and Kinch completing the top six. As the event moved into the night, with one stage lost due to stage personnel challenges, there was just one change among the front-runners, Corbin moving ahead of Clarke, thanks to three top-three stages times, including an memorable second to Panton on the last downhill Hangmans Hill of the day.
Only 17 of the 28 starters finished in an event which will have an impact on the chase for the BRC’s Champion Driver title, with updated points to be confirmed shortly, as points leader Josh Read was among the casualties. Others who failed to finish included Jamal Braithwaite (M2 Honda Civic Type-R) and Jermin Pope (Clubman 1 Honda Civic), who both left the road early in the event; although both cars were damaged beyond immediate repair, drivers and co-drivers suffered only minor discomfort.
BRC Summer Nights Rally – Saturday, August 29
1st Jeffrey Panton – JAM/Michael Fennell Jnr – JAM (WRC Rubis / Sandals Barbados / KIG Ford Focus WRC06), 29m 51.31s 2nd Dane Skeete/Eric Allamby (SM2 Sol / Flow / Automotive Art / Williams Trading Inc Peugeot 306 Maxi), + 49.89 3rd Barry Mayers/Ben Norris (SM2 Chefette / Digicel / Sol / DHL / Hankook / Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta), + 1:12.45 4th Neil Corbin/Matthew Staffner (M1 Nassco / Jason Jones / Auto Solutions / Emtage Electric / BG Products & Services / Valvoline Toyota Starlet), + 1:47.61 5th Daryl Clarke/Russell Brancker (M2 Roberts Manufacturing / Amir’s Chicken / Valvoline / MQI Collision Repair Honda Civic), + 2:19.85 6th Mark Kinch/Andrew Peirce (SM3 Jolly Roger / Boom Energy Drink / Pirate’s Cove BMW M3), + 2:26.09 7th Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (GpN Terra Caribbean Subaru Impreza N10), + 2:28.07 8th Andrew Jones/Lindsey Pilkington – ENG (SM2 Lucozade / Caribbean Powder Coating Ford Escort MkII), + 2:36.76 9th Greg Cozier/Natasha Farnum (H2 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival Ford Escort RS), + 3:31.45 10th Edward Corbin/Johnathan Alleyne (SM1 Valvoline / Pro Sales Daihatsu Charmant), + 3:36.82 etc
WRC: 1st Panton/Fennell
Group N: 1st Mallalieu/Goddard
SuperModified 3: 1st Kinch/Pierce, 32m 17.40s; 2nd Rhett Watson/James Hutchinson (Chefette / Power King / Gliptone /Stihl / The Unknown Entity in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3), + 1:02.47; 3rd Chris Ullyett/Chantal Ullyett – CAN (Ullyett’s Machine Shop / Proj-Rx Inc BMW M3), + 1:40.63
SM2: 1st D Skeete/Allamby, 30m 41.20s; 2nd R Mayers/Norris, + 22.56; 3rd Jones/Pilkington, + 1:46.87
SM1: 1st E Corbin/Alleyne, 33m 28.13s; 2nd Shareef Walcott/Jan-Yves Hinds (Melwani’s / Novus Tech / Castrol / Caribbean Pleasures / Mianect / Biz Needz / Reef Motorsport Toyota Corolla), + 3:04.07 Modified 2: 1st Clarke/Brancker, 32m 11.16s; 2nd Freddie Gale/Kyle Proverbs (Gale’s Hatcheries / Nassco Toyota Corolla RunX), + 5:29.94
M1: 1st N Corbin/Staffner, 31m 38.92s; 2nd Wayne Archer/Derek Edwards (Archers Hall Design Centre / RW Water Peugeot 206), + 3:44.96 Historic 2: 1st Cozier/Farnum, 33m 22.76s; 2nd John Corbin/Owen Proverbs (Valvoline / Pro Sales Toyota Corolla), + 5:58.03 Clubman 2: 1st Allan Kinch/Allan Maynard (Jolly Roger / Boom Energy Drink / Pirate’s Cove BMW 318ti), 35m 59.34s Clubman 1: 1st Trevor Mapp/Allister Nurse (JSB Motorsport / Chicken Pen Racing / Valvoline / Sign Station / Ellesmere Quarries Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS), 40m 22.32s