Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell won Sunday’s (April 23) Automotive Art Shakedown Stages in their Rubis/Sandals Barbados/KIG Ford Focus WRC06, despite a 10-second penalty for a late restart after lunch. The opening round of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Driver’s and Class Championships, the 10-stage, 37-kilometre event was the final test before Flow King of the Hill and Sol Rally Barbados, and close competition throughout the field augurs well for a repeat.
 Last year’s winner, Britain’s Rob Swann, finished second in the Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B, a little under five seconds adrift, with Roger Skeete and Louis Venezia (Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors/WTI Impreza WRC S12B third. Fourth, and top two-wheel-drive, were Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew in their (SM2 Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Williams Trading Inc Peugeot 306 Maxi).
 The pace was hot from the start, Panton winning the first four stages, ahead of Swann and Skeete, opening a gap of 5.73secs to Swann, who won the final run before lunch, but only by a narrow margin; Skeete was another 4secs back at lunch, although all that changed with Panton’s penalty, Swann now in the lead. He extended his advantage with a second stage win, but Panton fought back, cutting it to just three-hundredths ahead of the final stage. A scary moment by the Malvern Wall on a now-damp road caused Swann to back off a little, not wanting to damage the car, but Panton pushed hard to the finish.
 Afterwards, Panton said: “The main competition for Rally Barbados has been here, so we now know what they are capable of. A clutch change brought problems - the spare didn't work, so we had to change it out again, making us late. We were happy to overcome the deficit on the stages and it has been a major confidence boost.”
 Despite losing out, Swann was also happy, pleased to be reunited with his Welsh co-driver Darren Garrod: “We started at a sensible pace, as we know Sol Rally Barbados is still to come; there is not a mark on the car, which is how I wanted it. I was surprised to be on the pace after some time out of the car, and two fastest times is a big positive to carry into Sol Rally Barbados, given that the main competition also did the event.”
 Skeete’s fourth place reflected his overall position last year, but he finished third in two-wheel-drive that day! Third to Rhett Watson (SM3 Chefette/Power King Batteries/Gliptone/Stihl/Gunk/The Unknown Entity, in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3) and Barry Mayers (SM2 Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/DHL/Hankook/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta) on the day’s first stage, Skeete then won the next four, ahead of Watson and Mayers, to build up a 3.38secs advantage by lunch, despite a recurring issue with the steering rack, along with low oil pressure readings.
 He kept stock of the situation during the afternoon, winning three of the five stages to prevail by 6.72secs; the others were won by Watson, who finished fifth. Skeete said: “I came out with the intention being to finish the event and was happy to do so. Having not driven the car since last year there was some rust to shake off in SS1, but it was nice to see where we are with Rhett and Barry, so I'm looking forward to Sol Rally Barbados.”
 Mayers was seventh overall, behind Roger Hill’s Esso/Nassco/MotorMac/Pennzoil Toyota Corolla WRC, after a difficult day: “We made some further suspension changes to the car coming out of Stewart Hill and I think we took a few steps backward. We struggled with rear traction all day, but we were battling with Rhett throughout. We had a spin in SS7, then lost brakes after that, so just nursed it home.”
 Watson’s brother Logan (Subzero Services Ltd/Sign Depot, in support of The Little Pink Gift Foundation BMW M3) made an emotional return to the sport after a long period of recuperation to make it a class one-two for Watson Racing; on the last stage, he edged out Andrew Jones (Lucozade/Caribbean Powder Coating/AP Jones Pharmacy Ford Escort MkII), who marked his move up from SM2 with third in class, ninth overall.
 Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) finished 10th overall, winning Group A, after Avinash Chatrani (Evo VI) retired with clutch problems. As predicted, there was a close fight for Group N honours between Andrew Mallalieu (Impreza N10), whose third straight win last year was earned by a margin of less than a quarter of a second from Mark Thompson (Evo IX). It was nip and tuck throughout, the gap of 2.99secs at lunch the largest of the day, Thompson having won four of the morning’s five stages. Mallalieu turned the tables in the afternoon, a hat-trick of stage wins reducing Thompson’s advantage to just eight-hundredths with two stages to go, but Thompson won by 1.47secs, the pair finishing 11th and 12th overall.
 In the classes, Neil Corbin (Toyota Starlet) celebrated his step up to SM1 with a class win and 13th overall, while reigning Champion Driver Daryl Clarke put his new Honda Civic to good use, with victory in Modified 2, 15th overall, ahead of Kurt Thompson, who had only finished preparing his Civic at midnight on Saturday, and Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Islands, having his second outing in his Citroen DS 3 R3 MAX.
 Under the BRC’s two-thirds rule, Edward Corbin (Daihatsu Charmant) won M1, despite missing two early stages, while the other class-winners were Wayne Archer (Hist BMW M3), Derek Edwards (Clubman 2 BMW 318ti Compact) and Trevor Mapp (C1 Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS).
Automotive Art Shakedown Stages - Sunday, April 23
BRC Driver’s & Class Championships, round 1
Official results:
1st Jeffrey Panton – JAM/Michael Fennell Jnr – JAM (WRC Rubis/Sandals Barbados/KIG Ford Focus WRC06), 20m 15.38s
2nd Rob Swann – ENG/Darren Garrod - WAL (WRC Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B), + 4.96s
3rd Roger Skeete/Louis Venezia (WRC Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors/WTI Subaru Impreza WRC S12B), + 33.37s
4th Dane Skeete/Tyler Mayhew (SM2 Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Williams Trading Inc Peugeot 306 Maxi), + 42.32s
5th Rhett Watson/James Hutchinson (SM3 Chefette/Power King Batteries/Gliptone/Stihl/Gunk/The Unknown Entity, in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3), + 49.04s
6th Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (WRC Esso/Nassco/MotorMac/Pennzoil Toyota Corolla WRC), + 49.37s
7th Barry Mayers/Ben Norris (SM2 Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/DHL/Hankook/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta), + 1:26.48s
8th Logan Watson/Brian Gibson (SM3 Subzero Services Ltd/Sign Depot, in support of The Little Pink Gift Foundation BMW M3), + 1:30.31s
9th Andrew Jones/Lindsey Pilkington – ENG (SM3 Lucozade/Caribbean Powder Coating/AP Jones Pharmacy Ford Escort MkII), + 1:32.99s
10th David Coelho – TRI/James Harris – ENG (GpA Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), + 1:41.38s
WRC: 1st Panton – JAM/Fennell – JAM; 2nd Swann – ENG/Garrod – WAL, + 04.96s; 3rd R Skeete/Venezia, + 33.37s; etc
Group A: 1st Coelho/Harris, 21m 56.76s
Group N: 1st Mark Thompson/Kurt Seabra - GUY (Automotive Art/Stag Beer/Glassesco/NKM/Bio Beauty/SLAM 101.1FM Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 21m 59.72s – 11th overall; 2nd Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (Terra Caribbean Subaru Impreza N10), + 01.47s; 3rd George Sherman - USA/Anthony Sherman - USA (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), + 3m 38.49s
SuperModified 3: 1st R Watson/Hutchinson, 21m 04.42s; 2nd L Watson/Gibson, + 41.27s; 3rd Jones/Pilkington, + 44.95s; etc
SM2: 1st D Skeete/Mayhew, 20m 57.70s; 2nd Mayers/Norris, + 44.16s; 3rd Stuart McChlery/James Goddard (Lubriguard/Gunk/Lenovo/PowerBass Ford Escort MkI), + 3:08.09s
SM1: 1st Neil Corbin/Matthew Staffner (Nassco/H Jason Jones/Emtage Electric/BG Products & Services/Auto Solutions/Valvoline/Sun General Insurance Toyota Starlet), 22m 15.79s – 13th o/a; 2nd Philip Moe/Adrian Gittens (Sunbay Hotel/CAM2 Racing Oils/Mark’s Auto Spares Toyota Corolla), + 2:14.84s
Modified 2: 1st Daryl Clarke/Russell Brancker (Flow/Automotive Art/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Collision Repair/Valvoline Honda Civic), 22m 28.85s – 15th o/a; 2nd Kurt Thompson/Adam Straker (Glassesco/NKM Clothing/Bio-Beauty Day Spa/SLAM 101.1FM/Y103.3FM Honda Civic), + 40.68s; 3rd Paul Horton - TCI/Dwayne Forde (Turks Head Brewery/Java Island/Sky Motorsports/H Racing Citroen DS 3 R3 MAX), + 52.93s
M1: 1st Edward Corbin/Johnathan Alleyne (Valvoline/Hilti/Pro Sales Daihatsu Charmant), 25m 51.48s – dnf o/a; 2nd Paul Inniss/Pierre Clarke (Durex Barbados/Brydens Insurance/East Point Grill/Hugh Autobody/Chicken Stop/Tint Plus/Caribbean Villa Chefs/JJ Racing Team Honda Civic), + 33.19s; 3rd Pierre Beswick – TCI/Leslie Evanson (H Racing/Sky Motorsport Citroen C2 R2 MAX), + 3m 05.46s
Historic: 1st Wayne Archer/Tristan Gibbs (Archers Hall Design Centre/Arrow Woodworking/Arrow Construction/D & A Mechanical Services BMW 325), 23m 37.15s – 18th o/a; 2nd John Corbin/Rashid Phillips (Valvoline/Hilti/Pro Sales Toyota Corolla), + 2m 57.89s
Clubman 2: 1st Derek Edwards/Damien Johnson (D & A Mechanical Services/Arrow Construction BMW 318ti Compact), 24m 28.39s – 22nd o/a; 2nd Stuart Garcia/Rasheed Smith (Intelligent Defence Systems/Smiths Engineering Works BMW 318ti Compact), + 32.90s; 3rd Greg Cozier/Natasha Farnum (Motorsport Tool Kits BMW 318ti Compact), + 48.27s
C1: 1st Trevor Mapp/Allister Nurse (JSB Motorsport/Chicken Pen Racing/AS Autostop/Valvoline/Ellesmere Quarries Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS), 26m 12.96s – 26th o/a; 2nd Shon Cummins/Kareem Gaskin (BMW 316), + 7m 36.29s
Photo by Corey Reece
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Web site: www.barbadosrallyclub.com