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Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell claimed their second Flow King of the Hill crown yesterday (Sunday), but enjoyed the limelight alone this time, following 2016’s tie with Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack Boyere. Second-placed Rob Swann claimed his best-ever KotH result, ahead of fellow British regulars, Roger Duckworth and Kevin Procter, with Roger Skeete finishing fifth and highest-placed local driver, as last year.

  After four straight class wins, last year in eighth place, Rhett Watson and James Hutchinson finally claimed overall two-wheel-drive honours, finishing seventh, with 2wd cars packing the rest of the top 10, brothers Roger and Barry Mayers split by Dane Skeete. Of the 87 crews who started, only one failed to record a time on at least two runs, although many have work to do on their cars ahead of Sol Rally Barbados 2017.

  Panton said: “Every win is a good win and the confidence level is high for next weekend. We went out very strong for the first run, as we expected rain. I wasn't able to better my time for runs two and three, but the last run was dry and we lowered the time by two seconds. The Friday night start doesn't bother me too much; seven-kilometre stages are nothing new for me and it’s just another night stage and we're ready for it.”

  By the time the first run over the 4.3kms course started at 10.00am, huge crowds had gathered inside the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) in St Thomas, with hundreds more spectators lining other popular spots on Hangmans Hill, at Dukes and Lion Castle. After rain had fallen sporadically during Saturday’s Rally Show at Simpson Motors, more was forecast for Sunday, and it would play its part in the results.

  For the first time, there was no Practice run, the fastest of four Official runs to decide the results, then seeding for Sol RB17. This would benefit a handful of drivers, including a couple of class-winners, as everyone was encouraged to be ‘on it’ from the start, with rain likely. The event was run in reverse order of seeding, from Clubman up to WRC-1.

  Panton (Rubis/Sandals Barbados/KIG Ford Focus WRC06) was quickest on the first run, clocking 2m 48.55s, 2.3secs faster than Swann and Darren Garrod in the Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B, with Skeete and Louis Venezia another 1.3secs adrift in the Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors/WTI Impreza S12B. Duckworth and Mark Broomfield (Intrinsys Impreza S6) were fourth, with Procter and newcomer Andrew Roughead (Procters Coaches Ford Fiesta) fifth.

  Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew (Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Williams Trading Inc Peugeot 306 Maxi) were sixth and fastest 2wd, ahead of Watson (Chefette/Power King Batteries/Gliptone/Stihl/Gunk/The Unknown Entity in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3), Josh Read and Mark Jordan (Sprite/Hankook/Chutney’s/Urban Kitchen/Weetabix/Nassco/Flow/eCarib Classifieds/Cell Hut Toyota Starlet), Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Esso/Nassco/MaxMeyer/MotorMac/Pennzoil Toyota Corolla WRC) and Avinash Chatrani and Eric Allamby (Lenovo/PowerBass/Gunk/iShop/Genius Lynk/Copacabana Beach Club Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI).

  While Panton improved by two-tenths on the second run, he could have gone faster, but encountered yellow flags after Roger Skeete had slid off on an unexpected stretch of wet road, damaging the front left of the Impreza. While Swann (by 1.8secs, to within six-tenths of Panton), Procter (by 4.3secs) and Duckworth (by 2.6secs) also all improved on the second run, Skeete’s first-run time was still good enough for him to stay in fifth place . . . and so it remained for the rest of the day.

  Rain fell part-way through run three, so only drivers in the first half of the field improved; then there was then a delay while emergency teams dealt with a number of incidents, the worst of which befell Scotland’s Fraser Louden, who rolled his Evo IX near the end of the stage. While both he and co-driver were OK, the clear-up took some time.

  Skeete returned once the run resumed and, although he was no faster, he was happy with the repairs to the car; catching the best of the weather, Britain’s Nigel Worswick and Rebecca Kirsch were fastest in the Worswick Engineering/Rallytech Composites Ford Escort WRC. While both Panton and Duckworth improved on run four, Duckworth leap-frogging Procter for third, Swann’s earlier time still earned him a satisfying second place: “I had a really good day, despite not having any real clean runs. I drove well within myself, as there is still next week to come. I'm pretty pleased with second overall, which means not being first on the road, so it could work to my benefit.”

  Dane Skeete held the upper hand in the 2wd battle until the final run, when Watson cut 2.5secs off his first-run time to finish ahead; Skeete also lost out to Roger Mayers and Sean Corbin (Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/DHL/Hankook/Illusion Graphics WR Starlet), who had finished the first run stuck in second gear, which required a trip back to the workshop. Mayers was 65th after run one, missed run two, 51st after run three (one place behind Scottish crowd favourite Allan Mackay’s Ford Anglia WRC) and finished eighth and winner of SuperModified 2. His brother Barry and Ben Norris completed the top 10, third in SM2, the Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/DHL/Hankook/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta handling strangely, running one rear damper borrowed from the Starlet.

  Watson said: “The plan today was to feel out the car as we did some development work since the Shakedown Stages. The weather played a big part, so we tried to have a go in the first run to post a good time, then we had some fun sliding in the wet. It feels great to win something like this on sheer pace and not really benefit from attrition!”

  The smallest margin of victory in the classes was Roger Mayers (0.39secs) over Dane Skeete in SM2, with five other classes settled by less than 1.5secs: Daryl Clarke (Flow/Automotive Art/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Collision Repair/Valvoline/eCarib Classifieds Honda Civic) and Kurt Thompson (Glassesco/NKM Clothing/Bio-Beauty Day Spa Civic) were split by just 0.51secs in Modified 2, while Wayne Archer (Archers Hall Design Centre/RW Water/Arrow Woodworking/Arrow Construction/D & A Mechanical Services BMW 325) beat Greg Cozier (Barbados Historic Rally Carnival/Geest Line/Jondel Race Engines/Rally and Competition Equipment Ford Escort RS) by 0.84secs in Historic 2.

  In Group A, Chatrani beat Trinidad’s David Coelho (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Evo IX) by 1.44secs, the same margin of victory by which Edward Corbin (Automotive Art/Hilti Daihatsu Charmant) came from behind to beat Scotland’s Kenny Hall (Halltune Garage/F & Co Hair Stylists/The Sporting Pig Sports Bar & Restaurant/Time Out Hotel Ford Puma S1600) in M1. Holland’s Frans Verbaas (Verbaas Preparations/Koni Rover Mini Cooper) beat England’s Andrew Costin-Hurley (Cygnet Plant Ltd/Earl’s Performance Hoses/Wootton Tyres Ford Puma Evo) by 1.50secs in Group B2.


Sol Rally Barbados (June 2-4) and Flow King of the Hill (May 28) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2017; title sponsors are the Sol Group and Flow. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art and Banks; official partners are Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line and the Tourism Development Corporation; associate sponsors are Chefette and Stoute’s Car Rental.

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