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Neil Armstrong and Barry Ward are carrying the 10th Anniversary Rally Trinidad trophy home to Barbados, just reward for the wholehearted team effort from everyone behind the Suzuki SX4 WRC project. After another perfect sequence of fastest times on the Snake and Jack and Jill stages on Sunday, they rounded off the weekend by winning the Mayor’s Cup 4wd trophy at the hastily but well-arranged SuperSpecial at Preysal.
Overall Champions Neil Armstrong - BAR/Barry Ward – BAR (WRC Suzuki SX4 WRC)
Along with the local crew of Ryan Peyrau and Simon Rodriguez (Suzuki Swift Sport), they also won the Team Prize as Monster Suzuki. The Swift won the Mayor’s Cup in 2wd, and Super Modified 6, after Ireland’s Frank Kelly pronounced himself happy to settle for his trophy for highest-placed 2wd, allowing local crews to take home the class awards.
Ryan Peyrau/Simon Rodriguez (SM6 Suzuki Swift Sport)
Sunday’s 10 stages, while shorter than those on Saturday, nevertheless presented the remaining cars with a tough Day 2 challenge, although Armstrong increased his already considerable lead to more than five minutes at the finish, a slight scare two stages from home when he put a wheel off the edge of the road his only problem all day.
Meanwhile, the Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club (TTRC) faced some challenges of its own. After the Commissioner of Police rescinded the permissions for Sunday night’s stages at Saith Park, Chaguanas, during Saturday, it is to the TTRC’s enormous credit that they not only successfully ran the Sunday stages but also prepared Preysal, not run for six years, also that it started exactly to time.
Cristian Bourne/Jesu de Gannes (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII)
Club President Barry McKenzie re-plotted the course, the venue was debushed overnight – the TTRC offers thanks, again, to Junior Sammy Contracting, for being there when most needed – the gravel stage was cleared and a spectator area near the roadway created. Oh, and there was a jump, too . . . all of this was enjoyed by around 2500 spectators and, as everyone was already on site, the TTRC decided to have the Prize-giving right there. Well done to all concerned for such a resourceful response! Everyone then left for Mojos - many have not been heard from since . . .
While Armstrong was charging ahead, there was some serious action behind, as Bajans Paul Bourne/Sean Abed (Ford Focus WRC07) set about cutting down the 33 seconds that separated them from the second-placed Group N Subaru Impreza STI N12 of locals Stuart Johnson and Lee Quesnel. During the morning, however, the advantage swung even further in Johnson’s favour, which meant that despite a late charge over the final few stages, even taking 12secs out of the gap on the last test before lunch, Bourne fell short of his target by a little over two seconds.
Stuart Johnson/Lee Quesnel (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N12)
Behind this battling pair was another fine fight: Cristian Bourne/Jesu de Gannes in their Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, started the day in fifth place, but a determined run through the opening Snake stage of the day, saw them edge ahead of the Group N Evo VI of Craig Sumair/Mathew Russell. This fight continued all day, the pair sometimes posting near identical times, Bourne eventually getting fourth place by just three-tenths of a second. Even so, this is a great result for young Sumair, who said his car worked perfectly all weekend, something of a surprise considering how hard he was pushing.
Craig Sumair/Mathew Russell (Gp2-N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI)
On his Caribbean debut, Kelly and his Escort ‘Baby Blue’ finished sixth overall, last year’s winning co-driver, Jamaica’s Michael Fennell Jnr, enjoying the ride – as experienced a co-driver as exists in the region, Fennell said Kelly had “unbelievable car control”. At the Prize-giving, Kelly said that he wished he could never leave, such was the welcome in Trinidad . . . of course, fans who want to see him in action again can always travel north for Sol Rally Barbados over the weekend of May 30/June 1.
Frank Kelly - NIR/Michael Fennell Jnr (SM6 Ford Escort MkII)
Behind Johnson and Sumair, Barbados-based ex-pat Brit Harold Morley (Impreza N14) finished third in Group N, his local co-driver Shiva Maharaj able to sit with him after all. Bourne’s Group A win came by a little over nine minutes from Colin Khan/Richard Ramsingh (G Impreza), who did not complete all of Sunday’s stages, so do not appear among the overall finishers; Ryan Pinheiro/Ross Viera (Evo IV) was third, having run a number of stages on Saturday with only two working fuel injectors. A former dexterity champion, this was Pinheiro’s first-ever rally and first outing on gravel, in a newly-built car too . . . another great outcome of RT14.
Peyrau/Rodriguez had a seven-minute advantage over Reyaz Mohammed/Sayyad Saddiq (Mitsubishi Colt) in SuperModified 6, with Donald Gopaul/Randy Mohammed (Lancer) third, another crew to miss out on an overall finish.
The final class-winner was Jamaica’s Bobby Marshall, co-driven in his Colt by Trinidad’s Josh Plaza, taking the Modified 2 trophy and finishing 11th overall.
The Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club (TTRC) would like to say: "Thank you to all our Sponsors, Teams and Media who without your continued support we would not have been able to put on such a successful event. We look forward to the rest of the year working with you.
To our fans, thank you for braving the sun and dust to give your support to your favourite teams.
To the TTRC Marshals and Trailblazers, thank you for braving the extreme conditions to keeping us safe this weekend."
See you next year for RT15!
Official Overall results for Rally Trinidad 2014
Neil Armstrong - BAR/Barry Ward – BAR (WRC Suzuki SX4 WRC), 1h 47m 50.05s
Stuart Johnson/Lee Quesnel (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N12), + 05:05.14
Paul Bourne - BAR/Sean Abed – BAR (WRC Ford Focus WRC07), + 05:07.69
Cristian Bourne/Jesu de Gannes (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII), + 07:59.98
Craig Sumair/Mathew Russell (Gp2-N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), + 08:00.28
Frank Kelly - NIR/Michael Fennell Jnr (SM6 Ford Escort MkII), + 11:21.30
Harold Morley - ENG/Shiva Maharaj (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N14), + 15:32.38
Ryan Peyrau/Simon Rodriguez (SM6 Suzuki Swift Sport), + 17:59.90
Ryan Pinheiro/Ross Viera (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV), + 22:01.05
Reyaz Mohammed/Sayyad Saddiq (SM6 Mitsubishi Colt), + 25:15.11
Bobby Marshall - JAM/Josh Plaza (M2 Mitsubishi Colt), + 25:19.34
Shelford Robinson/Rajesh Jairam (SM6 Nissan B13), + 32:44.64
1st Armstrong/Ward, 1h 47m 50.05s; 2nd Bourne/Abed, + 05:07.69
1st Bourne/de Gannes, 1h 55m 50.03s; 2nd Colin Khan/Richard Ramsingh (Subaru Impreza), + 09:08.62; 3rd Pinheiro/Viera, + 14:01.07
1st Johnson/Quesnel, 1h 52m 55.19s; 2nd Sumair/Russell, + 2:55.14s; 3rd Morley/Hutchinson, + 10:26.24s
SuperModified 6 (2001 to 3000cc):
1st Peyrau/Rodriguez, 2h 05m 49.95s; 2nd Mohammed/Saddiq, + 07:15.21; 3rd Donald Gopaul/Randy Mohammed (Mitsubishi Lancer), + 11:41.83
Modified 2 (1601 to 2000cc):
1st Marshall/Josh Plaza, 2h 13m 09.39s
Team Prize – Monster Suzuki (Armstrong/Ward; Peyrau/Rodriguez)
Mayor’s Cup 4wd
- Armstrong/Ward, 1m 25.28s
Mayor’s Cup 2wd
- Peyrau/Rodriguez, 1m 38.92s