Rough Road for Rally Jamaica
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
Despite economic woes and the country's high crime rate affecting this year's running of the prestigious motor sport event Rally Jamaica, chief organiser Larry Henriques is still expecting an exciting finish among the handful of competitors who were confirmed up to Friday morning.
According to Henriques, this year's event has been hit with several challenges.
"First, the three cars that were supposed to come from Mexico were held for an extensive period by narcotics officers overseas, therefore, they were to make the trip. The only overseas entrant, Harold Morley, a British national who lives in Barbados, was held up Thursday night by the Dumphries Road gang in New Kingston. They took his debit card and in no time spent $150,000. Third, the economic impact has led to at least a 30 per cent reduction of the entries this year. Only 14 competitors were down to face the starter on Saturday," Henriques told Automotives on Friday.
However, when the Constabulary Communication Unit (CCU) was contacted on Friday, a district constable on duty made checks and said the robbery was not reported at the New Kingston Police Post.
Henriques further explained that some drivers from the region had expressed serious concerns about the high crime rate in Kingston. "I am thinking of moving the rally to the north coast. That is my plan," the rally organiser told Automotives.
The rally, which began yesterday at the Tru-Juice factory in Bog Walk, St Catherine, resumes this morning in the community and is expected to finish shortly after 5 p.m. this evening at Mickleton, also in the parish.
"The JN8 Class promises to be highly competitive, with Harold Morley, Kyle Gregg, and Joel Jackson," said Henriques.
Gregg, who is competing in the event for the second time, said his Mitsubishi Evolution 9 is ready for action. He is hoping to win his second major title this year, having already been crowned the 2014 Circuit Racing Driver of Dover Raceway.
Doug Gore, whose Mitsubishi Evolution 10 sustained mechanical problems at the last minute, has fallen back on a Honda Civic. He will be competing in the JA3 Class.
"I am hoping to use this car and upstage the bigger boys. Gordon Powell, I understand, has a very fast car and he will be competing in the JA2 Class. There is Gregg, Jackson, and Morley. I am looking to at least a podium finish," said Gore.
Today's event will cover a wide cross section of Bog Walk, which includes Wakefield, New Hall, and Mickleton. The event was won last year by Jeffrey Panton, who, in the process, registered a record for the most Jamaica Rally victories with eight.