Watson is top 2wd but Clarke surprises them all
Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell Jnr won the Carter’s Pit-Stop Stages on Sunday (April 22) in their Rubis/Sandals Barbados/KIG Ford Focus WRC06, an ideal start to the reigning Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Champion Driver’s title defence. The final test before Flow King of the Hill and Sol Rally Barbados, the 10-stage, 42-kilometre event put the 38 starters through their paces, the weather also playing its part in the challenge.
 Winner in 2016, Britain’s Rob Swann followed Panton home as he did last year, a little over seven seconds adrift, co-driven in the Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B by Darren Garrod, with Roger Hill and Graham Gittens the first local crew in the Esso/Nassco/MaxMeyer/MotorMac/Pennzoil/Energizer/Refresh your Car/California Scents Toyota Corolla WRC.
 Panton won six stages, Swann three, as the visitors eased their way back into competition, Swann saying: “We were a bit rusty on the first couple of stages, but after that we were right on the pace.” While Panton had shaken the car down at the Motoring Club’s (MCBI) event two weeks ago, there was still work to do: “I wanted to get back into the groove with Mike on the notes; we're not quite there yet, as I made some mistakes, and the mixture of weather added to the challenge.”
 The top five was completed by the leading Group A cars, who had enjoyed a nip and tuck battle all day, just 3.3secs separating Avinash Chatrani in his Lenovo/PowerBass/Genius Lynk/iShop/Copacabana/Gunk Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI and Andrew Mallalieu, newcomer to the class in his Terra Caribbean Subaru Impreza; Chatrani won five stages and Mallalieu three, while Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Evo IX) won the other two to finish seventh overall.
 But for a spin on SS1, Scotland’s Andy Scott, who finished ninth, might have been closer in his Motis/Teng Tools/Rock Oil Ford Fiesta R5, although it was still ‘mission accomplished’: “Today's objective was to get faster during the day and to finish. With the weather, we got to experience all kinds of conditions on the roads, which is useful for Sol Rally Barbados.”
 The battle at the sharp end was not the only story, however, and the day’s first shock came early, with Daryl Clarke (Automotive Art/Flow/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Collision Repair/eCarib Classifieds Honda Civic) fastest overall on the first Malvern to Wilson Hill. With his car now in SuperModified 2, Clarke said: “My plan was to be out of the box fast, because I know the other 2wd cars are quick from the start. It was a definite surprise to be fastest overall on SS1, then fastest 2wd heading into lunch; I didn't expect that at all.”
 Clarke was also in the top 10 overall all morning on Pool to Society, to lie third overall at the lunch break, leading a four-car 2wd battle covered by 9secs; just behind were SM3 leader Rhett Watson (Chefette/Stihl/Gliptone/Leafy Organics/Gunk/Hankook Tyres/Bajan Pure Water/It’s Barbados/Power King Batteries, in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3), then SM2 runners Dane Skeete (Sol/Automotive Art Peugeot 306 Maxi) and Barry Mayers (Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/Hankook/DHL/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta).
 Although he slipped to 10th in the afternoon with a spin, then one run on a wet stage, Clarke said: “Overall I'm still happy with the result and the potential the car has shown.” Watson eventually prevailed, finishing sixth overall, having spent the early part of the day in R & D mode: “I took the first two stages to try a new tyre. They felt good, so we had to confidence to push a bit more.” Mayers finished eighth, snatching SM2 from Clarke, after Skeete retired when a rim came off and spun him backwards into the foliage. Mayers said: “Today was up and down with the weather. We did some more changes on the car, which we were happy with on dry tarmac, but the pace isn't there in the wet.”
 Of the record eight overseas visitors for an event outside Sol Rally Barbados, Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Islands (Citroen DS 3 R3 MAX) won Modified 2 despite a mid-stage excursion into a canefield, while George Sherman of the USA was the only runner in GpN in Coelho’s Evo IX. Jeremy Gonsalves (Opel Corsa) won SM1, Edward Corbin (Daihatsu Charmant) M1, Greg Cozier (Ford Escort RS) Historic 2 and Trevor Mapp (Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS) Clubman 1. The day’s closest margin of victory came in Clubman 2, all competitors driving BMW 318ti Compacts; despite not winning any stages, the consistent Allan Kinch beat Ryan Wood, who won three, to the class win by just 1.19secs, with last year’s C2 Champion Stuart Garcia another 8secs adrift. Early leader Derek Edwards, fastest on all the day’s other stages, slipped to fourth.
 There were 25 overall finishers and another eight classified under the two-thirds rule for class positions, but others were left disappointed: the most high-profile DNF was Roger Skeete, who retired the Sol/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors/Flow Subaru Impreza WRC S12B after two stages, reporting a misfire. Both Ryan O Wood (Toyota Starlet) and Jermin Pope (Honda Civic) retired after damage to their cars, while Jamal Brathwaite (Civic) missed the final stage after his bonnet blew open on SS9.
Carter’s Pit-Stop Stages - Sunday, April 22
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), 22m 48.88s
2nd Rob Swann – ENG/Darren Garrod - WAL (WRC Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B), + 07.13s
3rd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (WRC Esso/Nassco/MaxMeyer/MotorMac/Pennzoil/Energizer/Refresh your Car/California Scents Toyota Corolla WRC), + 01:08.84s
4th Avinash Chatrani/Andrew Skeete (GpA Lenovo/PowerBass/Genius Lynk/iShop/Copacabana/Gunk Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), + 01:24.11s
5th Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (GpA Terra Caribbean Subaru Impreza), + 01:27.45s
6th Rhett Watson/Bradley Weekes (SM3 Chefette/Stihl/Gliptone/Leafy Organics/Gunk/Hankook Tyres/Bajan Pure Water/It’s Barbados/Power King Batteries, in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3), + 01:30.86s
7th David Coelho – TRI/James Harris – ENG (GpA Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), + 01:32.70s
8th Barry Mayers/Ben Norris (SM2 Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/Hankook/DHL/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta), + 01:35.91s
9th Andy Scott - SCO/Rashid Phillips (GpA Motis/Teng Tools/Rock Oil Ford Fiesta R5), + 01:50.43s
10th Daryl Clarke/Russell Brancker (SM2 Automotive Art/Flow/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Collision Repair/eCarib Classifieds Honda Civic), + 01.59.22s
WRC: 1st Panton - JAM/Fennell - JAM; 2nd Swann - ENG/Garrod – WAL; 3rd Hill/Gittens
Group A: 1st Chatrani/A Skeete, 24m 12.99s; 2nd Mallalieu/Goddard, + 03.34s; 3rd Coelho – T&T/Harris – ENG, + 08.59s; etc
GpN: 1st George Sherman - USA/Anthony Sherman - USA (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 28m 57.35s – dnf overall
SuperModified 3: 1st R Watson/Weekes, 24m 19.74s; 2nd Logan Watson/Andrew Croney (Leafy Organics/Sign Depot/Subzero Services/Luxe Caribbean Properties/It’s Barbados/Hankook Tyres/Cargo BGI/Stihl/The Unknown Entity BMW M3), + 01:17.10s; 3rd Andrew Jones/Lindsey Pilkington – ENG (Lucozade/Caribbean Powder Coating/Southern Surf Beach Apartments/AP Jones Pharmacy Ford Escort MkII), + 02:21.49s; etc
SM2: 1st Mayers/Norris, 24m 24.79s; 2nd Clarke/Brancker, + 23.21s; 3rd Dane Skeete/Tyler Mayhew (Sol/Automotive Art Peugeot 306 Maxi), + 02:22.53s
SM1: 1st Jeremy Gonsalves/Rommell Martin (Sign Depot/Valvoline/Star Products/John Hardman Engineering/Guava Tech/Roscoe’s Machine Shop Opel Corsa), 26m 54.88s – 14th o/a; 2nd Winston Thompson/Troy Toppin (Ellesmere Quarries/BCR Car Rental/SDRR Hydraulics & Industrial Spares Toyota Starlet), + 03:21.07s
Modified 2: 1st Paul Horton - TCI/Dwayne Forde (Java Island/Sky Motorsports/H Racing Citroen DS 3 R3 MAX), 26m 58.12s – 15th o/a; 2nd Jamal Brathwaite/Ayrton Bannister (Platinum Motors/Valvoline/Automotive Art/Consumers Guarantee Insurance Honda Civic Type-R), + 12:31.92s
M1: 1st Edward Corbin/Johnathan Alleyne (Valvoline/Hilti/Express Imports Daihatsu Charmant), 26m 04.82s – 12th o/a; 2nd Benjamin Hartling – TCI/Leslie Evanson (H Racing/Sky Motorsport Citroen C2 R2 MAX), + 03:17.10s; 3rd Paul Inniss/Jason Barrow (Brydens Insurance/East Point Grill/Caribbean Villa Chefs/Chef Byer Catering/Castrol/JJ Racing Team/Hugh Autobody/Drive-a-Matic Car Rentals/Autoderm Honda Civic), +03:24.21s
Historic 2: 1st Greg Cozier/Natasha Farnum (Barbados Historic Rally Carnival/Geest Line Ford Escort RS), 27m 33.83s – 16th o/a; 2nd John Corbin/Owen Proverbs (Valvoline/Hilti Toyota Corolla), + 02:23.79s; 3rd Wayne Archer/Tristan Gibbs (RW Water/Arrow Construction/Arrow Woodworking/Archers Hall Design Centre/D & A Air Conditioning BMW 325), + 02:43.58s
Clubman 2: 1st Allan Kinch/Kyle Proverbs (Jolly Roger/Pirates Cove/Guava Tech/Printmax BMW 318ti Compact), 27m 52.48s – 17th o/a; 2nd Ryan Wood/Michael Franco (Carter’s Pit-Stop/Guava Tech/CA Autobody/Power King Batteries/Tropical Shipping/Maxxis Tyres BMW 318ti Compact), + 01.19s; 3rd Stuart Garcia/Russell Smith (Four & Twenty Bakery/Intelligent Defence Systems/Smith’s Engineering Works/Zaccios/Kirba Inc BMW 318ti Compact), + 09.75s; etc
C1: 1st Trevor Mapp/Allister Nurse (Sign Station/JSB Motorsport/Chicken Pen Racing/Valvoline Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS), 29m 48.25s – 23rd o/a
GpB: 1st Jonathan Still/Heath Hazell (Sharkey’s Bar/Castrol/Suga Apple Swimwear/Pelican Market Suppliers Inc BMW M3), 26m 59.19s