Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Jamaicans loom large

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THE LOCAL favourites will be out, but a foreign contingent has risen to the occasion.Virgin Atlantic Championship leader Paul “The Surfer” Bourne and Sean Gill will miss this weekend’s Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Karcher Summer Stages Rally, but Jamaicans Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell Jr. and Gary “The Colonel” Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson are entered in the 12-stage day/night event.Bourne’s Ford Focus WRC is in Britain, so too is the Suzuki SX4 of Gill, but three of the four Jamaicans are already in Barbados preparing for the event.The fourth Jamaican, Fennell Jr., will arrive today to partner Panton in the Rally Jamaica/Seaboard Marine Ford Focus WRC 00. He is entered in Group M8-WRC with Gregg and Hutchinson who will be driving a Rally Jamaica/Seaboard Marine/BD Gregg & Bros/NG Racing Ford Focus WRC 05.Another crack regional driver, John  “Penti”  Powell, in a Shell Helix Subaru Impreza WRC S12, is also down to face the starter and help to heighten the level of competition for the event.But the foreign invasion following the successful staging of this year’s Sol Rally Barbados is of concern to Roger “The Sheriff” Skeete, who is also preparing for tomorrow’s rally.“Just when I thought I would have only had to deal with the likes of Roger ‘The Ninja’ Hill and Barry Gale, I have to deal with Panton and Gregg, and [it] has really made me concerned,” he told WEEKENDSPORT.However, he said his British engineer Brian Eel arrived yesterday and with new crew chief Brett Judd on the job the rest would be up to him.“I am ready, the car is ready. We have corrected all the problems and damage sustained during Sol Rally Barbados and Brian will be going over the suspension and brakes to make sure that all is well for the rigours of the weekend,” Skeete said.Apart from Skeete and navigator Louis Venezia, in the DaCosta Mannings Auto Centre/ Michelin/ Warrens Motors Subaru Impreza WRC S12, the top-class group will include Powell, who is yet to name a navigator; Panton and Fennell Jr., Gregg and Hutchinson, and Hill and Graham Gittens.It is understood that the Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC of Hill has also been repaired after the rigours of the Sol Rally Barbados and should pose a serious challenge in the group.After scrutineering, which starts at noon tomorrow, the event is slated to start at 2 p.m. at Greenland Agricultural Station, St Andrew, after which the competitors will settle three runs each downhill through Turners Hall, then through Pickerings before the dinner halt at around 6 p.m.The restart is scheduled for 7 p.m, after which three more runs through each stage, in the opposite direction, will be disposed of before the event finishes at the start point around 11 p.m. The service area will be the Greenland Station.

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