Panton-Fennell conquers field
After two days of fun, drama and skill, the Jamaican pair of Jeffrey Panton and co-driver Mike Fennell Jr were declared provisional winners of the FIA/NACAM/JMMC Rally Jamaica 2015 motorsport event, which concluded yesterday afternoon on the waterfront, downtown Kingston.
It underlined another triumphant year for Panton and Fennel, who have had a successful stint in rallying across the region in 2015. The two have had their fair share of successes on the Barbados circuit.
"Though it is a win, it is not satisfying for me because one of our main competitors, John Powell, took ill and could take no further part yesterday. We were looking forward to the rivalry," Panton told The Gleaner, shortly after arriving safely at the Bank of Nova Scotia car park, downtown Kingston.
At the lunch halt in Bog Walk yesterday, Panton explained how he had to be extremely cautious negotiating the terrains on the latter stages on Saturday because the course had become slippery as a result of the rain.
"We were very cautious, hence we were able to accumulate a comfortable lead coming into this morning (yesterday), said Panton, who drove one of the two WRC Ford Focus cars.
According to Panton, he intends to have dialogue with a number of the top drivers in the region, with a view to staging a regional rally championship next year.
Up to press time, in second place was the French team of Simon Jean Joseph and co-driver Jack Boyere, driving a 2008 Ford Focus WRC.
"It is a pleasure to be here rallying with the boys. The rally has been very good, even though there was not much competition. There was no battle. We had a difficult start on Saturday, but we pulled through. We were expecting a bit more spectators. Among the things that I wanted to achieve today (yesterday) was to demonstrate to the public how we can use a small car like this and do a good job," Jean-Joseph told The Gleaner during the lunch period.
Unofficially, in third place was Jetcon's Joel Jackson and Dmitri Dawkins, driving a 2008 Subaru STI.
Approaching the final stage in Bog Walk, last year's winners, Kyle Gregg and co-driver Hugh Hutchinson, were occupying third place, but a sudden downpour, combined with other acts of nature, took down a tree, which fell into the path of Gregg's 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10. They were on to the final leg in downtown Kingston when this happened. That was the end of the rally for them.
The organisers are expected to announce the respective winners, officially, this evening, during the prize-giving ceremony at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.