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Panton does the trick

MIKE KING, [email protected]

Panton does the trick

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Jamaican master driver Jeff Panton became the first man to achieve a beaver-trick at the coveted Sol Rally Barbados, but the 29th running of the event was marred by an accident which has left Russell Brancker with severe spinal damage and co-driver Daryl Clarke with major internal injuries.

Doctors have reportedly told family members that the odds were stacked against Brancker walking again, while Clarke may require surgery after an horrific accident in a Honda Civic on Saturday afternoon.

 A Help Russell And Daryl Appeal has been launched for the two drivers.

 The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) issued a statement to the DAILY NATION, expressing its support.

 The statement reads:
“The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) 2016 champion driver Daryl Clarke and his co-driver Russell Brancker are currently undergoing medical assessment for their injuries suffered in an accident on Special Stage 5, Spring Vale, of Sol Rally Barbados 2018. The event’s medical team arrived on the scene within minutes.”

Rally Club director Barry Gale added: “The thoughts of all our members are with Daryl, Russell and their families during what is a very difficult time. The club would also like to thank our Chief Medical Officer Dr Brian Charles and his team for their prompt response to this emergency and the professional way
in which they carried out their duties.”

Yesterday, Dominic Linton and Adrian Linton sustained minor injuries in their Vauxhall Astra SRi, while 2005 champion Roger “His Hotness” Mayers had a crash in Macaroni Village, St George, but escaped unscathed.

On the track, the day belonged to the 48-year-old Panton and 55-year-old navigator Mike Fennell Jr, both of whom hail from Kingston. Panton was named the winner when the provisional results were announced at 6:30 p.m. and it will just be a matter of confirmation when the official results are announced today.

Panton’s breathtaking skills in his Rubis/Sandals Barbados Ford Focus were on exhibit on the twists and turns on the east of the island along Padmore Village, Kendal and Malvern, before sealing the deal on the final stage at Bushy Park, St Philip.

When the smoke had cleared, Panton, the managing director of Kingston Industrial Garage – distributors for Ford and Subaru – pointed to the secret of his success.

“It has been a tough week. The King Of The Hill was close and the same thing applied to the Sol Rally. For most of the way, it was close between Paul Bird
and myself but he suffered a flat tyre that set him back and we basically had a cruise today [yesterday].

  “A lot of my success has to do with determination. Mike and I have been very determined to conquer the event and we have prepared quite a bit for it. We come here, do almost every event and get acclimatise to the road, the surfaces and the temperatures. I think all in all, the victories come from the experiences that we gain here throughout the years,” he said.

Panton won by more than a minute from Britain’s Rob Swann and Darren Garrod while former UK national rally champion Paul Bird, back after a two-year hiatus with new co-driver Jack Morton was third.

Barry Mayers, 35, was celebrating as the two-wheel drive champion. The 6 ft 1 in, Mayers and navigator Ben Norris in a Chefette/Rubis/Digicel Ford Fiesta, held off a strong challenge from Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew in a Peugeot 306 Maxi.

“This year we had to fight for it. It wasn’t all easy sailing. We definitely had our challenges over the weekend, its been a long three days for sure. Two-wheel drive is the class you gear for, so it is great to pull it off,” Mayers said. (MK)