Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Motorsport Season Roars Off\

Published:Sunday | February 19, 2017 | 2:00 AM

The 2017 motorsport year was off to a roaring start as man and machine disturbed the peace and quiet of Lydford, St Ann, on Sunday last. The event was the drivers RallySport Club Sprint #1. From the looks of things, drivers and their crews spent all of December and January preparing to the hilt for event number one. eleven cars turned up. That number was a fair size field given the lack of entries in the recent years, where six or seven entries were the norm.

The dirt and tarmac roads of the old bauxite mining facility were made enticingly slippery and wet by an overnight drenching. The course was a mix of long uphill or downhill stretches with some long, sweeping corners and wicked drop-offs and devilish switchbacks. Devoted motorsports junkies gathered in their numbers at choice vantage points to get their fix, and the drivers supplied the thrills while minimising the spills as they satisfied speed lusting fans.

The usual bad boy suspects like Kyle 'Speedy' Gregg, Joel Jackson, and Maurice 'Worl Boss' Whittingham turned up, but special mention must go to Thomas 'Cruz' Hall in a hefty, underpowered Mitsubishi Lancer GT; and Brian Fong Yee in his father's reincarnated 1978 Ford Escort. At a time when modern overhead cams, fuel injectors, and turbo chargers are light years ahead of the Escort's 'push rod' engine with double Weber side-draught carburettors, Fong Yee sweetly turned back the hands of time with some credible runs and can only benefit from more seat time

 

ALWAYS SECONDS FASTER

 

For the rest of the field, the hammer and tongs war between Gregg in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9 and Joel Jackson, who went back for his old 2000 Subaru Impreza Sti, continues. Jackson is still dreadfully down on power, and despite good driving, not even the new Quaife transmission can help him match a rampant, devil-may-care Gregg.

As the overall winner, Gregg was always 12-15 seconds faster than his arch-rival. All he seems to know is to bury his right foot and extract every ounce of power that the Evo can give. He was especially brutal on the straightaways, severe on the jumps, leaving the car airborne and spectacular but clinical on the sweeping corners. The crowd roared approval while ducking from flying mud and gravel as Gregg executed the 'Scandinavian Flick', with his car going sideways around the sweeping corners time after time.

Further down the line, Hall stayed in touch despite the lack of power and the car's weight. He managed to finish third overall behind Gregg and Jackson. Sebastian 'Nephew' Rae begged everything from his Honda Civic to tie with Bobby Marshall in a Mitsubishi Mirage RS for fourth. Dave Watkin was only two seconds ahead of Fong Yee in sixth place. Worl Boss Whittingham continues to have fun and delight the crowd in his Toyota Levin, but he will need more than pretty moves to bark with the big dogs. Sadly, Douglas 'Hollywood' Gore had the dreaded DNF beside his name. His car broke down not far from the start line on the first run and had to be content with being a spectator all day.

Race organiser Larry Henriques is promising more action. He has already set Sunday, March 19, 2017, at Bybrook, near Bog Walk in St. Catherine, as the next date and time for more. He says that Lydford is definitely on the cards for Sprint number three. With the good start so far and the possibility that some absentees may turn up then, the field can only get larger and the excitement greater.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com