Tue | Jan 21, 2020

Dearth of int’l drivers for Rally Jamaica

Published:Friday | December 6, 2019 | 12:39 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Kyle Gregg in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX rally car.
Kyle Gregg in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX rally car.

When the 12 competitors line up at Tru-Juice in Bog Walk for tomorrow’s start of the Richard Stewart Memorial Rally Jamaica 2019, only one overseas competitor, Harold Morley, will be on show.

This is a far cry from past years when as many as a dozen international drivers and their cars would take part in Rally Jamaica, with competitors coming from as far as France, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela to add to the plethora of Caribbean participants who graced the stage at the prestigious racing event.

For Rally Jamaica organiser Larry Henriques, the situation is unfortunate, but the Rally will go on as normal.

“I am disappointed because we were figuring we would have 15 or 16 entrants,” he said. “The Trinidadians pulled out on us at the last minute as they have been having problems, but it is what it is. I probably have to rethink which direction we go in terms of where we will be looking for overseas competition.”

Disappointment

The lone overseas competitor, Englishman Harold Morley, who has participated in Rally Jamaica since 2002, says that he is also disappointed that more overseas drivers did not make the trip.

“People are fickle,” Morley said. “A lot of persons promised to come but with an event like this, you have to plan sometimes months, if not years, in advance, but what I hope will happen next year is that I will try to get some sponsorship so that Rally Jamaica can offer free entry and free shipping. If we do that, we can end up with five, 10, maybe 15 cars from Europe to add to the quality of the rally.”

Despite the lack of overseas entrants, Henriques expects a fiercely competitive rally, especially with a few new changes to the course that will challenge the drivers over the two days.

“We have a very good competitive field of group-end cars,” he said. “If they keep it together, we are going to have a good rally.”

Among that list of competitors are defending champions Kyle Gregg and co-driver Marcia Dawes who will be competing in the JN8 class in their 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.

The other JN8 competitors who will be gunning for the title are Lee Vaz and Michael Fennell Jr., driving their 2010 Subaru Impreza; Joel Jackson and Dmitri Dawkins in their 2008 Subaru Impreza STI; Timoty Stewart and Stephen Gunter in their 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX; Thomas Hall and James Lechler also in a 2007 Lancer Evolution IX; and veteran Leslie Madden and Sean Williams, who will be competing in their Subaru Impreza.

The other classes to be contested are the JA3, JA2, JC1, JN3, and JN4.