Closed-road motor sport’s return delivered all it promised, as the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) and Motoring Club of Barbados Inc (MCBI) joined forces to organise Sunday’s (August 23) HammerTime 20. Swapping times back and forth, Jamaican Jeff Panton and Britain’s Rob Swann shared the overall honours, Josh Read and Barry Mayers claimed a 2wd win apiece, while Roger Hill and Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho each topped the growing FIA R5 class, with rarely more than split-seconds deciding the winners.
Starved of action by world-wide lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, overseas drivers had pulled out all the stops to comply with Covid-19 travel protocols and ensure their participation in the delayed start to the closed-road season . . . and island fans turned out in huge numbers to welcome them. In addition to Panton, Swann and Coelho, Turks & Caicos Rally Team member Paul Horton was in the island, being helped to settle into his new Ford Fiesta R5 by two-time British Rally Champion Matt Edwards. Swann said: “It is great to be back competing after so long out of a rally car and where better than Barbados?” while Coelho added: “Motorsports is cranking back up and a big thanks to everyone at MCBI and the BRC for making this happen under genuinely challenging conditions.”
Forming the first two rounds of both the MCBI and BRC championships, the double-header ran from Henley to Cherry Grove in St John and reverse, with the approaches to the Kendal duck pond thronged with fans. Although disappointed not to see Dane Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) in action after a fuel leak was unable to be fixed in time, the straight fight for overall honours between Panton and Swann in their Ford Fiesta WRCs had the fans on their feet, along with some spirited driving right through the field, with brothers Sol and Ahmed Esuf in Fiesta R5 and BMW M3 respectively earning particular praise. The only major incident befell Roger Skeete, who rolled his Peugeot 306 Maxi on a fast left-hander; feeling sore but otherwise OK this morning (Monday), he said he had fitted some older tyres to the rear, which contributed to the accident.
And the organisers were glad to be back in action, too, according to Clerk of the Course Neil Barnard: “It was good to ‘shake the rust off’ and I presume it was the same for the competitors. The day ran relatively smoothly, the biggest delay being Roger Skeete’s accident - I am very glad he is OK. All of the marshals were keen and seemed glad to be back out and I must say it was a real pleasure working with the Motoring Club yesterday. David Williams is always a great person to have as part of any organising team, calm and measured in his approach, Comp Sec David Stewart was a huge help, as was the Safety Officer Jefferson Russell. And well done to John Croney, who was particularly efficient with times and results.”
Fastest by four-tenths on Saturday’s BRC Test Stage on the twisting Orange Hill in St Peter, Swann also drew first blood on Sunday’s more flowing stage, quicker after two runs by half-a-second; Panton fought back, however, improving by 2secs to finish on 1m 45.08s, 1.2secs up on Swann. In the reverse direction, the positions were also reversed, Panton quicker on the first two runs, leading by just over 1sec, but Swann was ready: “Having missed the win made me very determined, so four new tyres and push hard every run. The tyre was at its best on the third run and that was my quickest. Jeff was great competition as always and with us both in Fiestas the times were so close.”
Panton said: “Rob drove brilliantly and pushed me to break through any fears I had, to push harder each run in trying to get back up to my usual competitive speed, although I felt nervous and was overly-cautious. It was exciting yet nerve wracking to get back in a WRC car, but the work starts now. It’s always such a pleasure driving here, with such top-class drivers and machines!”
It was even closer in the morning in the 2wd battle, Barry Mayers initially quickest, now with a 2.5-litre Honda engine in his Fiesta, but Andrew Jones (Ford Escort MkII) and the returning Josh Read (Toyota Starlet) were hot on his heels, just three-tenths spread across the trio after three runs. All improved significantly on the final run, Read easing ahead to win 2wd and SuperModified 2 with a time of 1:49.09, good enough for fourth overall, with Mayers one-tenth adrift and Jones also within nine-tenths. Read said: “The intention wasn't to be fastest, as I just wanted to get into the car after what was a really bad event at Lambert's last year. It feels way better, as its handling has really improved, so I have been adapting to the feel; winning the first direction was a bonus really.”
In the reverse direction, Mayers was fastest throughout, also finishing fourth overall, winning 2wd by 1.3secs, with Jones and Read separated by 8/100ths. He said: “It was a bit of a learning curve with the new engine plus a bit of rust to shake off since I had not driven in 15 months. We were suffering with poor braking due to damage from the road accident that we did not notice until Saturday and it was a shame Josh and I did not get a clean last run in the evening; he hit a chicane and I had a few messy corners.”
With five cars entered for the first time, the FIA R5 group promised fireworks. Driving the lone Skoda Fabia facing a quartet of Fiestas, Roger Hill held sway for the first two runs, leading David Coelho by two-tenths, with Andrew Mallalieu a further half-second behind. The two Fiesta drivers improved on the third run, Coelho leading from Mallalieu, but Hill improved by more than 2secs on the final run to win by 1.2secs (1:48.57), with Mallalieu just 2/100ths ahead of Coelho. In the reverse direction, Hill was quickest by four-tenths on the first run, but Coelho chipped away on the remaining runs to finish on 1:53.28, four-tenths up on Hill, with Mallalieu a further 3secs adrift.
HammerTime 20 - Sunday, August 23
BRC Driver’s & Class Championships, round 1 (Henley to Cherry Grove)
Official results:
1st Jeffrey Panton – JAM (WRC Rubis/KIG/Sandals Barbados Ford Fiesta WRC), 1m 45.08s
2nd Rob Swann – ENG (WRC Blue Sky Luxury/Elegant Hotels Ford Fiesta WRC), + 01.19s
3rd Roger Hill (FIA R5 Esso/MaxMeyer Paints/MotorMac Skoda Fabia R5), + 03.49s
4th Josh Read (SM2 Weetabix Toyota Starlet), + 04.01s
5th Barry Mayers (SM2 Chefette/Rubis/Hankook/Sign Depot Ford Fiesta), + 04.11s
6th Andrew Mallalieu (FIA R5 Terra Caribbean Ford Fiesta R5), + 04.81s
7th David Coelho – T&T (FIA R5 Subway Ford Fiesta R5), + 04.83s
8th Andrew Jones (SM2 Herr’s Chips/A P Jones Pharmacy Ford Escort MkII), + 04.90s
9th Suleman Esuf (FIA R5 Express Imports/Y Esuf Auto Clinic/SY Adams & Son/Prosales Ford Fiesta R5), + 06.15s
10th Rhett Watson (SM2 Chefette/Stihl/Gliptone/Gunk/Leafy Organics/Bajan Pure Water/Power King Batteries BMW M3), + 06.41s
WRC: 1st Panton - JAM; 2nd Swann - ENG
FIA R5: 1st Hill, 1m 48.57s; 2nd Mallalieu, + 01.32s; 3rd Coelho – T&T, + 01.34s; etc
Modified 4: 1st Avinash Chatrani (Lenovo/Gunk/Sign Station/iShop Barbados/Genius Lynk/Axe Solutions Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), 1m 56.67s – 14th overall
SuperModified 2: 1st Read, 1m 49.09s; 2nd Mayers, + 00.10s; 3rd Jones, + 00.89s; etc
SM1: 1st Neil Corbin (Nassco/Jason Jones/Emtage Electric/Auto Solutions/Valvoline Toyota Starlet), 1m 56.36s – 12th overall; 2nd Jason Harewood (Image Vault/Mark Auto Spares/Williams Industries/Mitasu/Starboy Performance Toyota Starlet), + 10.44s; 3rd Ryan O Wood (MB Auto City/BizNeeds Racing/Lucas Oil/MC LED Toyota Starlet), + 19.05s
M3: 1st Ahmed Esuf (Express Imports/SY Adams & Son BMW M3), 2m 00.80s – 16th o/a
M2: 1st Jamal Brathwaite (Valvoline/Automotive Art/Consumers Guarantee Insurance/Caribbean Auto Glass/TEC Barbados/Stylez Auto Spa/Chicken Pen Racing Honda Civic Type-R), 2m 00.65s – 15th o/a
M1: 1st Pierre Clarke (M1 SDRR Hydraulics Honda Civic), 2m 16.48s – 22nd o/a
Historic 2: 1st Harold Morley - ENG (Spectrum X Porsche 911RSR), 2m 11.06s – 19th o/a
Clubman 2: 1st Stuart Garcia (Kirba Inc/Guava Tech/Smith’s Engineering Works BimmaCup), 2m 11.84s – 20th o/a; 2nd Jason Downey (BimmaCup), + 05.41s
Group B: 1st Shawn Eversley (SE Performance/Track Batteries/Big Gasses Suzuki Swift), 2m 04.03s
BRC Driver’s & Class Championships, round 2 (Cherry Grove to Henley)
Official results:
1st Swann - ENG, 1m 48.33s
2nd Panton - JAM, + 00.46s
3rd Coelho – T&T, + 04.95s
4th Mayers, + 05.00s
5th Hill, + 05.20s
6th Jones, + 06.13s
7th Read, + 06.21s
8th Chatrani, + 07.82s
9th Mallalieu, + 08.19s
10th S Esuf, + 08.85s
WRC: 1st Swann – ENG; 2nd Panton - JAM
FIA R5: 1st Coelho – T&T, 1m 53.28s; 2nd Hill, + 00.25s; 3rd Mallalieu, + 03.24s; etc
M4: 1st Chatrani
SM2: 1st Mayers, 1m 53.33s; 2nd Jones, + 01.13s; 3rd Read, + 01.21s; etc
SM1: 1st Corbin, 2m 00.78s – 13th o/a; 2nd Harewood, + 09.58s; 3rd Wood, + 16.42s
M3: A Esuf, 2m 06.07s – 15th o/a
M2: 1st Brathwaite, 2m 07.38s – 16th o/a
H2: 1st Morley, 2m 22.93s – 21st o/a
C2: 1st Garcia, 2m 17.02s – 19th o/a; 2nd Downey, + 07.82s
GpB: 1st Eversley, 2m 10.59s
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