Jamaican pair for SOL Rally
The Jamaican pair of Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell Jr is the fourth entry confirmed for the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) new WRC-1 class in the Sol Rally Barbados scheduled for June 1 and 2.
Panton and Fennell join 12-time winner Roger “The Sheriff” Skeete (Impreza WRC S12) and Paul Bourne (Focus WRC07), who won in 2003 and 2007 in WRC-1. They will also face Neil Armstrong, who will be the driver of the Suzuki SX4 WRC for 2013.
With a further five entries already confirmed for WRC-2 – the group for cars built before 2004 – and more in the pipeline for both classes, the organizers are confident of a record-breaking entry of WRC cars.
Panton is the only driver to have won the “Big Three” in regional rallying – the gravel events in Jamaica and Trinidad and the closed-road tarmac event in Barbados. His more recent successes were achieved with Fennell, his regular partner.
Driving the ex-Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus WRC06, Panton scored six wins in Jamaica between 1994 and 2008, and ticked the final box in Trinidad in 2011 in an ex-Colin McRae Focus WRC00. After replacing that with the newer car last March, he further enhanced his reputation as a regional force by finishing second on his gravel debut in the car in Trinidad, third on his tarmac debut in Barbados, and then adding victory in Rally Jamaica last December.
He is the first driver to finish on the podium in all three events in the same year since Trinidad-based Jamaican John “Penti” Powell did it in 2005.
Two other Caribbean drivers are also entered – Paul Horton, in the Ford Escort MkI, will represent the Turks and Caicos on his fourth visit with Barbadian co-driver Kris Yearwood, and David Coelho of Trinidad and Tobago with co-driver James Harris of Britain in a Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX will be facing the starter for the third time.
With the closing date still two months away, entries for Sol Rally Barbados have reached 105 and chairman Barry Gale is delighted with the support for the island’s premier motoring event.
“The spread of overseas entries throughout nearly every class promises to continue the friendly rivalry between our homegrown competitors and our guests, which gives the event its unique character,” Gale said.
Sol Rally Barbados is the 24th running of the BRC’s annual international All-Stage rally and marks the sixth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group.