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Expectant rally fans packed into the National Stadium last night as the Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club’s 10th Anniversary Rally Trinidad got under way . . . the spectator areas were full to overflowing, with many family groups in attendance, as were the Shell Helix VIP and STAG A Man's Beer liming areas.
All the ingredients of top-flight rallying were on display – close competition, sideways superstars and even a daring demo by local hero John Powell, sidelined from the main competition through injury. To the surprise and delight of all, Powell (with regular co-driver Nick Telfer) drove his old Group A Shell Helix Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX on a spirited demonstration run peppered with donuts and four-wheel drifting; now owned by Reezan Mohammed, the car has not competed since 2012.
Although the short, sharp stage would only take the front-runners around 75 seconds to complete, it was nevertheless a demanding test to start the event, no mere demo for the crowds but an integral part of the results . . . as veterans of such ‘SuperSpecials’ know only too well, you can’t win a rally on a stage like that, but you can sure lose it!
With Trinidad’s Powell and Jamaica’s Jeff Panton both non-starters, it looked set to be a Battle of the Bajans and Neil Armstrong (Suzuki SX4 WRC) and Paul Bourne (Ford Focus WRC07) delivered in full measure! On SS1, Armstrong took the upper hand by 9/100ths of a second; on SS2 Bourne fought back, improving his time by almost two full seconds to lead overnight by just 34/100ths . . . it is exhausting just writing about it!
Behind these two, a further 10secs covered the next six cars, with some close competition in prospect as the rally heads towards Bronte and Cedar Hill for today’s 10 stages. Cristian Bourne (Gp3-A Evo VIII) finished the night third and leading the home defence – he was almost 3secs quicker than the remaining WRC car, Dean Serrao’s Subaru Impreza S9, and had a 5.5secs advantage in Group A over David Coelho (Evo IX). James Betts (Gp3-A Evo V) was another 2secs adrift, after incurring a penalty for a jumped start.
Seventh overall, Ryan Peyrau charged to the top of the two-wheel-drive leader board with two impressive runs in the SM6 Suzuki Swift Sport, a couple of seconds ahead of Group N leader Harold Morley (Impreza STI N14). Frank Kelly’s reputation had preceded him all the way from Ireland, and he did not disappoint – while ‘Baby Blue’ danced and drifted through each run to the delight of the cheering crowds, the Escort was nevertheless quick, to lie ninth overall, just 2.5secs off Peyrau in the 2wd battle.
Stuart Johnson completed the top 10 in his Impreza STI N12, second in Group N, 2.4secs behind Morley and a little over 1sec ahead of Craig Sumair (Evo VI), who ended the night tied for 11th place with Colin Khan’s Group A Impreza.
Drivers looking to move up the leader board today include Ryan Pinheiro (Gp3-A Evo IV), penalised like Betts for a jumped start, and Vincentian Steve Ollivierre (Gp3-A Evo VII), who had seemingly set a time 10secs better than the field on SS1 . . . even though the timing system, marshals and even Ollivierre's co-driver David Jackson all registered the same time (1:02), they all agreed it was impossible, so he was awarded his SS2 for both runs. He was also among those to collect a 10secs penalty – these also included Latiff Khan (Gp3-A Evo VII) – so has time to make up today.
Twenty-nine cars started Rally Trinidad 2014 and all survived the night’s two stages. Today, RT14 ‘proper’ gets under way, as the fast flowing gravel stages for which the island is famous focus the attention of all involved.RALLY TRINIDAD 2014Provisional results – Day 11st
Paul Bourne - BAR/Sean Abed – BAR (WRC Ford Focus WRC07), 2m 25.09s2nd
Neil Armstrong - BAR/Barry Ward – BAR (WRC Suzuki SX4 WRC), + 00.00.34s3rd
Cristian Bourne/Jesu de Gannes (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII), + 00.07.20s4th
Dean Serrao - BAR/Jeremy Croney – BAR (WRC Subaru Impreza WRC S9), + 00.10.17s5th
David Coelho/James Harris (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), + 00.12.78s6th
James Betts - BAR/Geoffrey Goddard – BAR (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V), + 00.14.74s7th
Ryan Peyrau/Simon Rodriquez (SM6 Suzuki Swift Sport), + 00.15.73s8th
Harold Morley - BAR/Hugh Hutchinson -JAM (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N14), + 00.17.80s9th
Frank Kelly - NIR/Michael Fennell Jnr (SM6 Ford Escort MkII), + 00.18.26s10th
Stuart Johnson/Lee Quesnel (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N12), + 00.20.17s=11th
Colin Khan/Richard Ramsingh (Gp3-A Subaru Impreza), + 00.21.37s= 11th
Craig Sumair/ Mathew Russell (Gp2-N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), + 00.21.37s13th
Donald Gopaul/Randy Mohammed (SM6 Mitsubishi Lancer), + 00.21.84s14th
Bobby Marshall - JAM/Josh Plaza (M2 Mitsubishi Colt), + 00.22.24s15th
Ishmael Khan/Michael Dinnoo (SM5 Toyota Starlet), + 00.24.11s16th
Gobin Mahadeo/Chris Ackee (Gp3-A Subaru Impreza STI), + 00.24.58s17th
Ryan Pinheiro/Ross Viera (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV), + 00.27.09s18th
Steve Ollivierre - SVG/David Jackson - SVG (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII), + 00.27.29s19th
Reyaz Mohammed/Sayyad Saddiq (SM6 Mitsubishi Colt), + 00.29.66s20th
Winston Medford/Graveney Dindial (SM6 Toyota Corolla RunX), + 00.31.86s21st
Peter Morris - ENG/Hannah Morris (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), + 00.32.95s22nd
Latiff Khan/Kurt de Freitas (Gp3-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII), + 00.32.99s23rd
Shelford Robinson/Rajesh Jairam (SM6 Nissan B13), + 00.33.20s24th
Zak Waddell/Bret Lewis (SM5 Lotus Super 7), + 00.40.83s25th
Radj Pershad - SUR/Mukesh Mallian - SUR (Gp2-N Subaru Impreza STI N12), + 00.41.01s26th
Richard Phillips/Nandallal Ramdass (SM6 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR), + 00.42.12s27th
Sarah Jane Gopaul/Barry Gowandan (SM6 Mazda 323), + 00.43.38s28th
Ansel Ali/Ken Mohammed (M3 Mazda 323 Rotary), + 01.11.92s29th
Scott Sheppard/Sean Sheppard (M2 Ford Escort MkI), + 01.45.90sKey to classes:4WD:
WRC; Group 3-A; Group 2-N2WD Super Modified:
- SM 6 - 2001cc to 3000cc; SM 5 - 1600cc to 2000cc2WD Modified:
M4 - 2501cc to 3000cc; M3 - 2001cc to 2500cc; M2 - 1601cc to 2000cc; M1 - 0 to 1600cc