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Panton, Fennell smoke the field

Trevor Thorpe

Panton, Fennell smoke the field

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Jeff ‘Fudgie’ Panton and Michael Fennell Jr proved too hot for the opposition as they drove away with top honours in the Motoring Club Barbados Inc.’s (MCBI) Williams Industries Rally of the Sun and Stars last Saturday.

Driving the KIG/Rubis/Blue Orchids Hotel Ford Focus WRC06, they gave notice of their intentions by setting the fastest time on the opening stage.

They then went on to record the fastest times in ten of the 12 stages laid out at Sailor’s Gully to Prospect, St Peter, and Diamond Corner to Gays, St Lucy, and ended with a time of 17 minutes, 56.78 seconds.

Speaking after the event, co-driver Mike Fennell said it was a good rally with tough competition.

“We had no major issues during the day sections, but there was some caution on the night stages. It is always great to rally in Barbados as there is always keen competition around, whether it is in the WRC group where we are or the challenges coming from the competitors in the other classes,” he noted.

The much fancied local hero, Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete, and stand-in co-driver Graham Gittens, in the Sol/LIME/Simpson Motors/Michelin/Williams Trading Inc Subaru Impreza WRC S12, accounted for stages three and five.

They trailed the winners on the others and ended with a time of 18 minutes 14.52 seconds, a shade faster that former Trinidad and Tobago champion driver John ‘Penti’ Powell and Hugh Hutchinson in the Intercontinental Shipping/Trinidad Mooring & Launch Services Ford Focus WRC08, whose time was 18 minutes, 37.54 seconds to round out a clean sweep of the top places by cars entered in the WRC Group.

But it was some excellent driving by Andrew Jones and English co-driver Lindsey Pilkington in the AP Jones Pharmacy/Southern Surf Beach Apartments/Lucozade/Panadol/Precision Racing Ford Escort MkII, who grabbed fourth spot with a time of 19 minutes 39.64 seconds. They also took the honours for the fastest two-wheel drive and those for SM 11.

Cliff Roett and Joshua Plaza, in the Roett’s Garage Toyota Starlet was fifth fastest with a time of 20 minutes 04.23 seconds and also took the honours at stake for SM 10. Andrew Mallalieu and Geoff Goddard, in the Terra Caribbean Subaru Impreza won Production 4 and rounded out the top six in a time of 20.14.96 seconds.

Another fancied pair Neil and Chris Corbin, in the Nassco Toyota Starlet won M6 with a time of 20 minutes 23.19 seconds, while the club’s championship leader Daryl Clarke and Russell Branker in the Roberts Manufacturing/P & N Hardware/Valvoline/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Quality/Mum’s Pasta Honda Civic stayed on course by winning M7 in a time of 20 minutes 24.18 seconds.

But the day/night event was not without incident as two-wheel drive stars such as Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew, in the SM11 Rubis/Williams Trading Inc/LIME/Michelin Peugeot 306 Maxi, and Stuart Maloney and Andrew Croney in a similar machine both ran off the course. Stewart McChlery and Julian Goddard, in the Lumberyard/Gunk Ford Escort Micky, were sidelined due to mechanical problems.