Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Rally Ja champs eye Carib dominance

Published:Tuesday | December 10, 2019 | 12:11 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer

Defending Rally Jamaica champions Kyle Gregg and co-driver Marcia Dawes are buoyed to go for a Caribbean clean sweep following their victory on Sunday at the Richard Stewart Memorial Rally at the Tru Juice property in Bog Walk, St Catherine.

Gregg followed up his Rally Trinidad win in April to claim top honours in Rally Jamaica on Sunday, and the 30-year-old is keen on going to Barbados next year to gun for that Rally title, which would give his team a clean sweep in the Caribbean.

“I would love to go to Barbados next year,” Gregg said. “We have around seven months to decide, but I feel I would need a different car to compete for the title over there, but it is something we will be looking into.”

The sentiment was shared by co-driver Marcia Dawes, who believes that the back-to-back Rally Jamaica titles, plus the Rally Trinidad win, has given them the confidence to go on to claim the Caribbean three-peat.

“It would be great for us to conquer the Caribbean and get the three island three-peat,” she said. “Our performance this weekend was really good despite our car having temperature issues, but it held up well, and the team is glad for the win and is very confident at the moment.”

Gregg and Dawes, driving their 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX in the JN8 class, beat out fierce competition from Thomas Hall and co-driver James Lechler, also in a 2007 Evolution IX, to claim their third Rally Jamaica title, having won in 2014 and 2018.

The defending champion led from start to finish over the two days, having a comfortable two-minute lead from day one, heading into Sunday’s final day.

Gregg, who demonstrated textbook rally driving, strategically manoeuvred the longer more rugged course this year and won 14 of the 22 stages to finish the rally in an overall time of 1:49:12.00 hours. That was over a minute faster than Hall and Lechler, who finished second in a time of 1:50:15.00 hours.

“It was the best the car had ever performed,” Gregg said. “It ran beautifully. The terrain was rough, but we played it safe on the first morning then we turned it up in the evening. Once I got that healthy lead on day one, I just took the cautious approach on day two and made sure we finished the rally safely.”

Timothy Stewart and co-driver Stephen Gunter, also driving an Evolution IX, had to settle for the third position following their two-day time of 1:51:46.00 hours.

Five of the twelve cars that started the rally did not finish.