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BARBADOS - rally racing
- Sunday 09, May-2004
Rally Barbados, the region’s biggest rally, will see four previous winners competing against crack drivers and navigators from Europe and the Caribbean for the 36-stage event, which will be contested on May 29 and 30.
Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton, who won the event in 1998, will have Justin Morin with him as co-driver in his Castrol Toyota Celica GT4.
Together they will compete against local champion Roger Skeete and Dave Crawford, driving their McEnearney/Texaco/Michelin Ford Escort WRC, who have nine wins.
1999 winner Trevor Manning and James Betts, in a Courts/Automotive Art/Shell/Kerridge/Simpson Motors Mitsubishi Evo VIII, are also a strong team, just like last year’s winning crew, Paul Bourne and Louis Venezia, who will compete in a Banks/Texaco/Pirelli Subaru Impreza WRC.
Of the regional drivers, Panton has the best record of success in Barbados. In addition to his victory in 1998 when he beat Bourne by 53 seconds, he has twice finished in second. In 1994 he finished 51 seconds behind Skeete, and two years later he finished 27 seconds adrift of McKinstry.
Returning after mixed fortunes last year are Panton’s fellow-countrymen Gary Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson, in the NG Racing/Motec Mitsubishi Evo VI; John Powell and Michael March, in a Mitsubishi Evo VII; and Peter Moodie Jr and Mike Fennel Jr, in another NG Racing/Motec/DMS Distributors Mitsubishi Evo VI.
By finishing fourth, Gregg and Hutchinson claimed the award as highest-placed overseas crew last year, while Powell and March were eighth overall, their third Top 10 finish in seven years and also second in Group N.
Moodie and Fennell slid off the Canefield stage and struck the same bridge that claimed local favourite Manning earlier.
This mishap forced them out on the opening day but they are looking forward to a much better showing this time.
Entries also include Peter Morris from Trinidad, who finished 17th overall, along with former St Vincent and The Grenadines champion driver Steve Ollivierre and co-driver Keith Francis in a Mitsubishi Mirage.
A strong challenge is also expected from local champion driver Sean Gill and Michael Cummins, in the Courts/Automotive Art/Shell/Kerridge/Simpson Motors.
Ollivierre finished 21st overall and second in the group to Gill last year.
Ninety-four cars are expected to come under starter’s orders and they should arrive in the island next week.
Compliments of the Nation News
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