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Gayaz Rajab Memorial 1000k Rally (Wallerfield Stage) - 6th May 2001

Article by Nebert Marin
Photography byDuane Boodasingh

There's not much to say really. With all the anticipation built up online in the weeks prior to the event, everyone waited to see who would have the fastest front wheel drive rally car. The day started off quite good with some very fast runs by most competitors but by the second stage disaster struck when a fire broke out under the hood of Erica Dinoo's Turbo Starlet. The day's action came to a stop as fellow competitors used up their fire extinguishers in a futile effort to prevent the inevitable. Competitors, marshals and spectators looked on helplessly as the car burnt to the ground.

We watched the Castrol logo burn one letter at a time as the intense heat of the flames added to the already hot weather conditions. People openly expressed their sorrow while others cautioned that the car was full of fuel and the gas tank could blow any minute. It was good to see that the ambulance sprung into action and went to the aid of the driver and navigator immediately. The theme of the day turned out to be the importance of fire resistant race gear, fire suppresser systems and emergency personnel.

The event was officially called off, not only out of sympathy for Erica but because the other teams were now left with empty extinguishers and the ambulance was gone. A crew from ERS and Big Boyz Toyz came to the scene and after making sure that the car was completely extinguished, hoisted the burnt shell onto their flatbed wrecker and took it away.

Before the fire, we witnessed some blistering runs by the infamous Bench, Franklyn Seegobin's Corolla and Roger Williams' Mazda. There were some visitors from Suriname that took part in the Navigational Rally on Saturday. Their team came to Trinidad with their media contingent and was probably disappointed that they could not see more action.

Later we all gathered at the pit area of the circuit track and Peter Morris gave us a spectacular show with his EVO VI, pulling donuts at will in both directions proving that true donuts can be performed in an all-wheel drive vehicle. Of course Peter has a Hydraulic Hand Brake which makes all the difference. Afterwards Peter took to the circuit to help burn out some more adrenaline to the delight of the crowd.

Some people have speculated that the trauma of this fire will keep Erica out of racing but I for one doubt that she is so fragile. There must have been some sentimental attachment to that car, having helped her to win the 16 Second Drag Racing Title, Circuit Racing and Rally Championships all in the same year but racers are tough people. Main team sponsor Castrol, has indicated their commitment to Erica's comeback. The last we heard, Erica already started work on another turbocharged Starlet and plans to maintain her points lead on the rally circuit, taking on drag racing and circuit racing as they come her way. We anxiously await the new machine.

We leave you with this. Every fire starts with just a little spark. Every big fire starts out as a small one. It only cost about TT$175.00 for a decent ABC type extinguisher. It's always too late to try to find an extinguisher by the time a fire has started. How many of you weekend warriors are going out to get yourselves an extinguisher this week? We hope all of you.

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