Three the hard way in New Works
If Three The Hard Way was a movie title it, could not have been better scripted at Sunday's King Memorial Rally at New Works, near Linstead in St Catherine.
A disappointingly small six-car field turned up for duty. Kyle 'Speedy' Gregg took first crack at the special stages characterised by long, sweeping corners and tight switchbacks that come after long downhill runs.
Time control ticked off precisely 11:01 a.m. for Gregg to power away in his Lancer Evolution IX. Two minutes later his arch rival, Joel Jackson, in his JETCON Racing Subaru Impreza WRX STI, set off in very hot pursuit. They were followed by rally rookie Timothy 'Timmy' Stewart, part of the Stewarts Racing Team, in his Lancer Evolution 1X. The lesser mortals consisted of Thomas Hall, the other piece of the Stewarts team in a Lancer GT, Maurice 'Wurl Boss' Whittingham in a Toyota Levin and young Raynor King II, younger brother of late Daryl King, for whom the rally was part tribute.
Up front, Gregg was merciless in his usual pedal-to-the-metal style. He manhandled the Evo through the orange groves, flicking it sideways through the turns to the delight of the hooting, hollering crowd. Many a 'blanks bussed' as the appreciative crowd sought to match the popping and crackling sound of the anti-lag devices in the engines of the big guns.
Meanwhile, Jackson drove well within the capabilities of his car.
"We weren't on the pace we wanted to be in the morning," Jackson said of the work he and co-driver Dimitri Dawkins did in the first four stages.
In the lead, Gregg was working the Evo hard all morning - maybe too hard, as on the third stage his progress came to dead stop with a broken transfer case. This gifted Jackson the lead as he nursed the Subaru home to win the King Memorial Rally.
"We were lucky today. Fortunately for us - or unfortunately for Kyle - he dropped out halfway through the rally and that kinda gifted us the lead," Jackson said of the win over his arch-rival. This puts both drivers on even terms in rally wins so far in 2016.
Timmy Stewart, looking better each time he sits in the driver's seat, was in second place. Stewart was hitherto known in karting circles, but has been making progress under the smooth guidance of veteran navigator Stephen Gunter "It feels great knowing that someone with so much experience is sitting beside me to guide me through the stages," Stewart said of the help from his co-driver.
King takes third
In third spot was Raynor King II, driving the car formerly piloted by his brother, Daryl. He survived a broken rear trailing arm in the Honda Civic and managed to limp home to claim the remaining podium place.
'Wurl Boss' Whittingham was not so lucky. From as early as the second stage, he was clearly begging the Levin for what it did not have on the day. The left front wheel was skewed at an ugly angle as the suspension camber clearly interfered with his ability to manage the car.
The most dramatic moment, however, belonged to Thomas Hall. On stage five, with his team leading their class, Hall was working the car overtime. Going full tilt in fourth gear and coming into a tight hairpin after a long downward stretch, Hall pressed the brake, only to come to the dreadful realisation that he would be stopped by trees.
The number of competitors was small, but it did not diminish the excitement at the King Memorial Rally at New Works. After six drivers starting out, when the dust cleared, only three were left - the hard way.