Rhett ahead of the pack
Jamaican rally driver maintains point-perfect score
Reigning Barbados Rally Club (BRC) champion driver Rhett Watson maintained his point-perfect score over the two weekends of LIME King of the Hill and Sol Rally Barbados 2015 last month, to maintain his lead in this year’s title chase.
Jamaican Jeff Panton’s victory on Sol Rally Barbados 2015 –– his second in the island’s premier event –– has moved him into the lead of both WRC-1 and the four-wheel-drive championship.
SuperModified 12 class-leader Watson (BMW M3) has a perfect record, with five class wins and the maximum possible 90 points, his total aided by competing in one of the more popular classes.
The points scale is reduced if there are fewer than three starters, which has affected second-placed Wayne Archer (Historic BMW 325), who also has a perfect score of class wins, but against reduced competition in the opening round, which cost him the two points by which he trails Watson.
Third is Jeremy Croney (Clubman Peugeot 206XS) on 85 points, with Group N leader Andrew Mallalieu (Subaru Impreza N10) fourth on 80, these two also affected by reduced competition earlier in the year.
Fifth is Justin Campbell (BMW M3), who lies second to Watson in SM12, with Modified 7 leader Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic), rounding out the top six on 72 points.
All is not lost for those affected by under-subscribed classes, however. The dropped score rule requires competitors to discard their lowest points tally for the year: applying the rule now would place Archer alongside Watson as joint leader, with Clark promoted to third place –– he has no score to drop, having missed the opening round in March –– and reduce the 18-point gap between first and sixth to just 11 points. With three of the eight rounds yet to run, starting with the BRC Summer Nights Tarmac Stages on August 29, it remains a long way to the finishing post.
Nearly 50 drivers have scored points in the BRC Championships this year, five of them regular visitors from around the region, the most successful of whom, so far, is Panton. As the overall leader of Sol Rally Barbados 2015 at the end of both days in his Ford Focus WRC06, he has assumed the lead of the four-wheel-drive championship and WRC-1 from early leader, Trinidad’s John Powell (Focus WRC08), who has slipped to fifth.
Not only did Powell miss LIME King of the Hill owing to business commitments, but he drove his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in Sol Rally Barbados 2015, which also affected his points total. WRC-2 leader Roger Hill (Toyota Corolla WRC) is second in four-wheel-drive, Roger Skeete (Impreza WRC S12) third and Mallalieu fourth.
In the two-wheel-drive championship, Watson has a 19-point advantage over Campbell, with SM11 points-leader Andrew Jones (Escort MkII), who had previously been tied with Campbell, now third, seven points adrift, following his retirement with a blown engine from day two of Sol Rally Barbados 2015. Solid performances over LIME King of the Hill and have catapulted Modified 6 leader Neil Corbin (Toyota Starlet) to fourth, ahead of SM10 leader Josh Read (Starlet) and Archer.