No stopping ‘The Sheriff’
The Sheriff controlled the town on Sunday.†Roger The Sheriff Skeete and Louis Venezia claimed their first victory for the season in a Subaru Impreza WRC S12 in the exciting Valvoline Rally.
The event served as a great appetiser for the imminent June Rally.†Despite some challenges, including the rain which fell in the afternoon, the Barbados Rally Club successfully ran all 10 planned stages at two venues in the north of the island.†Nearly half the 37-car field which left the 9 a.m. start at Automotive Art, Welches, missed at least one stage, so were not included in the overall results; those who completed two-thirds of the stages, however, collected valuable points towards the BRC’s Virgin Atlantic-sponsored Class Championship.†Skeete was a happy winner.
“It was an excellent day. The launch control was working great, we had some clean runs and I built on that. We got the overheating issues from the last event sorted and used today to try some more set-up changes,” he said on Sunday.†Paul Bourne, winner of all three previous events for the year, was an early casualty in the Ford Focus WRC07, as he reported himself on the new LIMElive Facebook page.
“I was the first to go, only 10 or 15 seconds into SS1 when the problem started. The problem persisted into SS2, prompting the decision to retire after the stage. It turns out, after some checking by Brett and the crew, that the alternator was overcharging which caused the control box to shut the systems down.”
Skeete was not having it all his own way, however. Fastest on the first two runs up Hangman’s Hill, he twice had to give best on Dark Hole to Neil Armstrong and Barry Ward in their Suzuki SX4 WRC. Their challenge ended on the last stage before lunch, however, with a possible misfire, which caused a cautious Armstrong to pull off the stage, so he was no longer in the overall running.†With Armstrong second on all but one, Skeete was fastest on the five afternoon stages, to claim a winning margin of 66 seconds over WRC-2 class-winners Roger Hill and Graham Gittens in the Toyota Corolla WRC.
Third were Josh Read and Mark Jordan (Toyota Starlet), who had prevailed in a thrilling four-car battle for two-wheel-drive honours, which was settled on the day’s very last stage.†Reunited with his RB05-winning co-driver Max Ferri, Roger Mayers was fastest on stage one in the WR Starlet, with Ian and Robert Warren (Suzuki Swift) second and Read third. While Read asserted himself on stage two, Mayers retained the lead by just eight-tenths.
Mayers was fastest on the three remaining morning stages, building a margin of 10secs over Read by lunchtime, with Rhett Watson/Sean Corbin (BMW M3) third and Warren fourth.†Watson topped the two-wheel-drive times on the afternoon’s first stage, as did Daryl Clarke and Russell Brancker (Honda Civic) on stage eight; they had earlier missed stages, once when the bonnet blew up and smashed the windscreen, and were continuing with no screen and wearing protective goggles.
Read and Mayers were second and third behind Watson, Read clipping a second off the leader’s advantage – and that pattern continued, Read benefitting from the damp conditions, faster by nearly 5secs on stage nine to bring the gap down to 2.19secs. Both pulled out all the stops, Read faster by 2.26secs to win by seven-hundredths.†Read said afterwards: “We really could not match Mayers’ pace in Canefield, but when the rain came with three runs in Dark Hole, it worked much to my advantage and I enjoyed it.”
Mayers added: “I had the upper hand on Josh in the dry, but he took back out the time in the wet. The range of conditions has shown us all the areas we have to work on.”
Warren is another with work to do: “We have a very troubling brake problem, as the brake pedal went to the floor at some point in almost every run. We have to use the break now to definitely rectify this.”
Returning to competition, and replacing the injured Logan Watson in the BMW M3, Trevor Manning and Derek Edwards finished ninth overall and second in SuperModified 12.
Manning said: “We took the day pretty easy and settled into the car later into the day. The car is really reliable and only took a tank of gas and a change of tires when the skies opened. We will be doing King of the Hill and Rally Barbados, and we may just see more of Electric Micey than Micey!” (RB)††