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Sheriff cruises home


Trevor Thorpe

Sheriff cruises home

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The Sheriff is still in charge of this town. And 13 is definitely not an unlucky number for this guy.
Barbados’ rollicking rally prince Roger ‘The Sheriff” Skeete avoided the pitfalls or crashes others couldn’t over a speed-filled weekend, to emerge the provisional champion of the Sol Rally Barbados yesterday.
Skeete and his co-driver Louis Venezia had earned a lucky lead in the event Saturday night when British odds-on favourite Paul Bird crashed along Sailor Gully, St Peter, virtually destroying his left front wheel.
Bird tried to make another go yesterday, but that didn’t work out. So Skeete and Venezia took advantage of Murphy’s Law to complete a 13th Rally Barbados win, driving their Subaru Impreza S12 safely to the title, cruising on the final stage from Padmore Village to Bushy Park, in St Philip.
The official times and positions should be formalised today.
Another large crowd was on hand from as early as 7 a.m. yesterday in Padmore Village to see if any mishaps or surprises could prevent Skeete and Venezia from reaching their goal.
In addition, scores took up every vantage point at Kendal and Malvern to get a peek of the action.
It was another topsy turvy day for drivers, even though excited fans lapped it all up to complete what has been a crazy three weeks for them, having also taken in the first Top Gear Festival in the Caribbean, followed by last week’s King Of The Hill event, which Bird won.
Yesterday, Roger Hill developed a fuel pump problem, which led to his exit. Dane Skeete returned yesterday from numerous problems on Saturday, but went out again when his rear suspension failed him.
Welsh driver Gary Thomas exited with a blown engine, a major disappointment to the fans as he was spectacular in the early stages of the event.
But the day was mostly about the “sheriff”.
For Skeete, 13 is definitely a lucky number and a gold mine.
The veteran driver consolidated himself without doing anything outside of the ordinary, maintaining his position from Saturday night. His win was welcomed  by the crowd around the stages.
British driver Rob Swann and his partner Daren Garrod also maintained their overnight position with little fanfare to finish second provisionally, ahead of third-placed John Powell and Hugh Hutchinson.
“This is one of the better rallies I’ve been involved with in the Caribbean,” an impressed Hutchinson told the DAILY NATION last night after his podium finish. “It was well organised and everything was in place where it should be.”
Rob Smith and Ross Weir, who make up the Weir electric rally team, had to put their Subaru Impreza back together after Saturday night’s crash, and though they were never in with a chance to win, were able to finish.

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