Revs to roar tomorrow night
Trinidad’s John ‘Pentti’ Powell and David Coelho will add some regional flavour at the sharp end of tomorrow’s BRC Summer Nights Tarmac Stages.
They are among about 30 entries who will be seen contesting 12 stages – six in daylight, then six after dark – giving a total distance of just over 52 kilometres.
Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete and son Dane are the number one seeds in four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive respectively, with all the leading players in the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) driver’s and class championships set to launch their final push in the title chase, with only three more counting events before year-end, and with an enhanced points system in use on Saturday.
Co-driven by Louis Venezia, Skeete will campaign the familiar Subaru Impreza WRC S12, in which he has an almost 100 per cent record of event wins this season, while Powell and Trinidad’s Nick Telfer will field the Ford Focus WRC08, in which Powell came third in Sol Rally Barbados 2014, co-driven by Jamaica’s Hugh Hutchinson.
Former Trinidad Kart Champion Coelho, who will have regular co-driver James Harris on the notes, does not have a good finishing record in Sol Rally Barbados, which he has contested four times, but always enjoys his visits to the island. While his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX runs in Group A in Trinidad, it slots into WRC-1 in Barbados, thanks to its sequential box and active diffs.
Unfortunately for island fans, an even stronger regional invasion was thwarted by lack of airlift – Jamaica’s Jeff Panton withdrew his entry on Wednesday, having been unable to secure flights, even via Miami. This was a major disappointment, as he was keen for a good run after his Friday night slip at Sol Rally Barbados 2014.
Roger Hill and Graham Gittens are alone in WRC-2 in the Toyota Corolla WRC, while Group N will be contested between Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (Subaru Impreza N10) and Mark Thompson/Kurt Seabra (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX).
Organisers anticipate an intense two-wheel-drive battle between Dane Skeete/Matthew Tyler (Peugeot 306 Maxi), Roger Mayers/Max Ferri (SM10 WR Starlet) and Rhett Watson/James Hutchinson (SM12 BMW M3).
Watson is also involved in the chase for the coveted BRC champion driver title, currently tied in the lead with Daryl Clarke. Only eight points cover the top six drivers, however, so the championship is still wide open and with the year-end dropped score rule yet to be taken into account.
Stuart White is currently third, on 88, with Roger Skeete, Josh Read (SM10 Toyota Starlet) and Eric Allamby (Clubman Toyota Corolla) on 87, 85 and 83 respectively. Of these, only Read and Allamby are missing from the entry.
Skeete leads the four-wheel drive standings on 90 points from Paul Bourne (WRC-1 Ford Focus WRC07) on 64, just two ahead of Mallalieu. Watson leads Read in the two-wheel drive standings by 73 points to 66, with Clarke third on 45.
Following scrutineering in the Hopewell Factory Yard, St Thomas, between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., there will be 12 special stages at three venues, arranged in two loops, and starting at 2 p.m. The first loop will see competitors tackle six stages – Hangmans Hill to Canefield alternating with Haggatts to Springvale, before the dinner break.
In the second loop, slated to start at 6:20 p.m., the Canefield stage will be reversed, running south to Hangmans Hill, which will alternate with the third venue, a stage running from Society to Pool. The finish will be at Hopewell, which will also be the service park throughout the day.
The Barbados Historic Rally, organised by the Vaucluse Raceway Motor Sport Club, runs concurrently behind the main field and with separate seeding, starting at number 101. These cars will also score points towards the BRC’s championships.