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This is where the big boys and lady come to play. For the first time in the Club's history, we have a World Rally Championship car competing in all the local rounds of competition, not just Rally Trinidad. In this final installment, we look at the seven (7) Teams in Group A and the R5. Within this group we have the only female driver in the Club, the Reigning Rally Trinidad Champion who's also the Reigning Overall Drivers Champion, a past multiple Rally Trinidad Champion and past multiple Overall Drivers Champion, a former Solodex Champion, a husband and wife team and a driver who has been rallying so long, he won Rookie of the Year twice...yes you read that correctly.
John Powell and Nick Telfer in their Fiesta R5 debut last month.
The M Sport Ford Fiesta R5! If for no other reason you have to come to Rally Trinidad 2016, please come to see the R5 in the hands of John"Penti" Powell, dance through the stages this weekend. Paired with long time co-driver Nick Telfer, the accolades for John's long and distinguished rallying career is an article by itself. Multiple Rally Trinidad Champion, Rally Tobago winner, multiple Overall Drivers Champion, M Sport Driver for Rally Catalunya, the final round of the WRC calendar in 2012. He has single-handedly brought more rally cars to the Region than any other driver, many of which still race today within our local Championship. Penti's greatest challenge no doubt will be from defending Rally Trinidad and Overall Drivers Champion, James Betts. Bajan by birth, Trinidadian by marriage, his open love for the gravel stages of his adopted home have made him a crowd favourite since he first rallied here back in 2005. Co-driven by Sean Abed, this Team in their Mitsubishi Evolution 8 is a pleasure to watch and with only seven tenths of a second off Penti's fastest time in the Club's Shakedown Rally a few weeks ago, you can be sure this duo will be Flat Out from the first stage.
James Betts and Sean Abed on the Snake Stage taking a crest flat out.
With a racing career spanning over 16yrs, David Coelho has been involved in karting, circuit cars and representing Trinidad and Tobago at the Race of Champions event in Barbados in 2014. His current racing duties are split between contesting the Club's events and the Radical Racing series in Barbados. Piloting his heavily modified Mitsubishi Evolution 9 with James T. Harris co-driving, they will be looking to challenge for the top step on the podium come Sunday afternoon.
David Coelho and James Harris shooting flames on the up shift in the dark of Reform.
A past Solodex Champion and TTRC Rookie of the Year in 2014, Ryan Pinheiro with co-driver Ross Vieira, took their maiden Stages win in 2015 and would no doubt like to add Rally Trinidad winner to their résumé. Ryan's Mitsubishi Evolution 4.5 carries one of the more striking liveries within the pit lane and rumour has it that a new one will debut for this event.
Ryan Pinheiro and Ross Vieira blasting past the trees in Wallerfield last year.
When your rally career spans over 20 years, you could be Rookie of the Year twice. Colin Khan is that man. After being away from the sport for four years, Colin returned in 2013 and received the honour a second time. Long time co-driver Richard Ramsingh will be calling the notes in their Subaru WRX GC8 which won't be hard to miss with it's bright yellow and blue paint scheme and gargle sound of its boxer engine.
Colin Khan and Richard Ramsingh on the Reform Stage for Rally Finale 2015.
Matthew and Leisel Russell are a husband and wife team, with Matthew being Rookie of the Year last year. Having shared the Overall Drivers Championship with Craig Sumair in 2014 as co-driver, Matthew switched seats in 2015 with the purchase of a Mitsubishi Lancer GSR. His brother held the original co-driving duties before Leisel took over and they have steadily improved their pace as events go by. We would love to hear the commentary in this car whilst on the stage.
Matthew Russell with his wife Leisel, crest a bridge in Reform in their Mitsubishi Lancer GSR.
The lone female driver in the Club who teaches in her spare time, Sarah-Jane Gopaul pilots her Mazda 323 Turbo with Kasey "Kid" Ramoutar co-driving. Sharing a birth date with 5 time Overall Drivers Champion, Ainsley Lochan, Sarah-Jane continues to show that it is possible for the ladies to give the guys a run for their money on the gravel.
Sarah-jane Gopaul and Kasey Ramoutar in the Mazda 323 Turbo powering down the stage.
The action began on Friday 18th with official start and display of rally cars taking place at what has been dubbed the "Penti Drome" in Caroni, adjacent to the Mosportt Bar and Grill, from 4:30pm. Gravel action begins on Saturday 19th at two locations. The morning's stages will be in Preysal, on the very fast and flowing "Snake Stage" from 9am. The afternoon will see the teams move across the highway and enjoy the gravel at the "Jack and Jill Stage" in Milton Couva from 1pm. The action continues on Sunday 20th with the teams tackling the 8km infamous "Bronte Stage" from 9am. The closing "Super Special" starts at 1pm, held in Reform, close to Brian Lara Stadium and will be a crowd favourite, with its huge jump and many twists and turns. Pack your coolers, umbrellas, chairs, sunscreen and come take in the race action this weekend.