Gregg, Hutchinson take Macklin Peterkin rally
When the Joel Jackson-piloted 2008 Subaru STI N14 crackled and popped its way to the start line last Sunday, it signalled that the first of nine cars meant business in the Macklin Peterkin Memorial Motor Rally.
As the car roared off in the distance with co-pilot Dmitri Dawkins giving rapid-fire instructions, the spectators had a sense that a lot would happen on the eight stages of the rally slated for the day in Bog Walk, St Catherine.
Two minutes later, Kyle Gregg's 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 grumbled as he teased the gas pedal at the start line. When the starter signalled go and he planted his right foot, the raspy exhaust note left no doubt that Gregg and co-pilot Hugh Hutchinson would be giving no quarter to anyone, let alone the Jackson/Dawkins team.
The drivers went at it hammer and tongs all day until the devil called mechanical problems intervened. A broken power steering meant that Joel Jackson had to muscle up to manhandle the Subaru to stay ahead of Gregg, who was driving like a man possessed. Things got worse when Jackson lost power due to a broken exhaust header and it did not help when he suffered suspension damage.
The Jackson/Dawkins team ended up 26.30 seconds behind the winning Gregg/Hutchinson duo, who posted 34 minutes 09.70 seconds.
Meanwhile, young Fraser McConnell showed why it is a big advantage to have rally stages in your backyard as he tossed his recently acquired 2006 Subaru Impreza around, making the car wiggle as he applied power. McConnell's no-fear attitude showed as he carved up the Bybrook course, recording spectacular jumps each time the car approached a hill. McConnell asked for everything the Subaru engine could give and got it, as he kept pace all day with the bigger boys and ended up only one minute and seven seconds adrift of the eventual winner.
His time was three minutes ahead of his next fastest rival.
Probably the most heart- warming story of the day was the team of Raynor King Jr and Rameses McGregor piloting their Honda Civic.
It was the same car previously piloted by Daryl King, who died in 2015. Reports are that McGregor fought back the tears as he sat beside the debutant driver. The team gave a good account of themselves, finishing eight overall.
The team of Thomas Hall and Andre Gordon in their Class JA3 Mitsubishi Lancer GT ran a very creditable fourth. Hall is still getting used to the much heavier Lancer since stepping out of his usual ride, a Toyota Starlet. Young Timothy Stewart in his 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 drove aggressively in the early stages. That aggression proved too much for the car's differential and it shattered, leaving the Stewart/Gunter team with the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) beside their names.