Watson repeats as champion

Rhett Watson yesterday won the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) champion driver title for the second year in a row, with two final class victories in the double-header Winter Sprint in St Lucy.

The first driver to win back-to-back titles for more than 20 years – Derek Roach was the last, in 1991 and 1992 – he maintained his perfect record of class wins, but he had started the day very much on the back foot.

Rhett Watson in action yesterday. (Picture by Nicholas Bhajan Photography.)
Rhett Watson in action yesterday. (Picture by Nicholas Bhajan Photography.)

Watson, Wayne Archer and Jeremy Croney – each with a perfect record of class wins in the previous six events – went into Sunday’s final double-header separated by just five points. Both Archer and Croney, leaders of the Historic and Clubman classes respectively, also maintained their perfect record of class wins, but had suffered earlier in the year from the reduced points scale for under-subscribed classes.

Watson’s early-morning scare came when he ran off the road in his BMW M3 on the practice run from Collins to Josey Hill and damaged the front suspension. With the event running smoothly, there would be little time to repair the car, but it was back out in time for the third and final official run, albeit looking less than its usually immaculate self.

SuperModified 12 class leader Watson said: “I was feeling a tad nervous, but confident, heading into the event. My first thought when I hit the car was to hope I had time to reverse out, as Mark Thompson was only 30 seconds behind. The hit didn’t feel hard enough to be terminal and I have a very dedicated crew that would stop at nothing. This championship is for those guys – huge thanks to Ivan, Steffan, my Dad, brother Logan and a few others that were around to help get it going again in 30 minutes.”

Watson’s time on that final run was good enough for eighth overall, fifth in two-wheel-drive, which also sealed his second 2two-wheel-drive championship.

Roger Mayers (WR Starlet) and Josh Read (Toyota Starlet) headed two-wheel-drive yesterday, but both had lost overall results earlier in the year, so could not challenge Watson for the title.

Despite losing the champion driver chase by just two points, Archer said: “I decided not to worry about the championship and just go out there to do my best and have fun, and I am thrilled with the result. I couldn’t have asked for a better year, with 100 per cent finishes and class wins. Congrats to Rhett and his team on their victory.”

Driving father Roger’s Subaru Impreza WRC S12 for the third time, Dane Skeete won overall in both directions, although admitted that he was still not entirely comfortable in the car.

“My confidence is still low, so I can’t really commit in the high-speed sections. I only felt threatened by those behind when the launch control started to act up, other than that it was smooth sailing. It is nice to come out on top, just wish I was coming out on top with some competition in WRC-1,” he said. (RB)

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