Bajans win Trini rally
The trophy of significance for motoring in Trinidad and Tobago will have its home in Barbados for the next 12 months.
The Bajan pair of Neil Armstrong and Barry Ward dominated Rally Trinidad last weekend to make sure the trophy would have a new home.
After overnighting from the Super Specials driving the Monster/Sol/Chefette/ Digicel/Virgin Atlantic/Gunk/Hankook Tyres/Redline Fuels/Simpson Finance/Simpson Motors Suzuki SX4, Armstrong and Ward pulled away from the field – which included another Barbadian pair of Paul “The Surfer” Bourne and Sean Abed in the Chefette/Banks/Castrol Ford Focus WRC – in fine fashion.
After the rally moved to south Trinidad for the challenging 12-kilometre and ten-kilometre stages at Bronte and Cedar Hill, respectively, Armstrong and Ward never placed a wheel wrong and by the overnight stop on the second day, they were in a world of their own, disposing of 12 of the gruelling 22 stages with a total elapsed time of one hour, 11 minutes, 16.51 seconds, comfortably ahead of nearest rivals Bourne and Abed, whose time was one hour, 15 minutes, 25.33 seconds.
Trinidad’s GroupN pair of Stuart “Sobie” Johnson and Lee Quesnel, in a Subaru STi N12, had been breathing down their necks with a time of one hour, 14 minutes, 52.16 seconds.
Awesome Northern Ireland driver Frank Kelly and Jamaican co-driver Mike Fennell Jr, driving a Ford Escort MkII, also gave a good account of themselves, picking good lines and keeping the crowd on their toes.
But it was not all plain sailing for Armstrong and Ward as their works crew spotted a crack in one of the engine mounts.
After partially effecting repairs for the pair to finish the day, the crew worked way into the night replacing it.
“We spotted the crack in the mount and told Neil and Barry to be cautious and they did just that. We took the engine out as there was not enough space to really deal with the problem, and were ready for the final day after some assistance from the team at Lifestyle Motors,” crew chief Simon Willis noted.
Two other Barbadian drivers at the rally fared badly and retired early. Most notable was James Betts and Geoffrey Goddard, in the Stag/Quik Start Autos Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV, who negotiated a curve and crashed on the opening stage. Dean Serrao and Jeremy Croney didn’t fare any better in the Sugar Lounge Subaru Impreza S9, losing their engine on the same stage due to mechanical failure.