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Powell, Fennell battle rally setbacks

Published:Sunday | May 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

John Powell and Michael Fennell have made a strong start to their campaign in the NACAM Rally Championship with a second-place finish in the Rally Cañadas.The rally took place in Puebla, Mexico, on Saturday, April 21.

Powell and Fennell have entered the NACAM Rally Championship, which will be run in five countries in Central America, in a GpN Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.

The team's pre-event preparation was not smooth sailing, as there were complications in getting the car cleared through Mexican customs.

The NACAM authorities finally resolved the problem and had the car delivered to the team's hotel at 4:45 a.m. on the day of the event. This gave the Dom Buckley Motorsport crew only two and a half hours to prep the car for the rally.

Putting the setbacks behind them, Powell and Fennell started the rally, tired but eager to attack the stages.

On reaching the first stage, they encountered a problem with their intercom system and had to run the first three special stages without it. This made the going a lot harder and the team had to take a cautious approach on those stages.

Running without the intercom, Powell and Fennell entered the first service 45 seconds behind leaders Trivino and Hernandez, only to encounter yet another problem.

The service crew had taken a wrong turn and would not make it to the service stop in time. The driver and co-driver had to service the vehicle with assistance from the Trivino crew.

Rectify the problem

With this delay, Powell and Fennell had to complete the next three stages still without the intercom system. After completing SS 4, only four seconds behind Trivino/Hernandez, the cooling fan stopped working on SS 5, causing the team to slow down so as not to damage the engine. This pace was kept thru SS 6, which had the team go a further 50 seconds behind the leaders.

When the car got to the service area, the Dom Buckley Motorsports team worked feverishly to rectify the cooling problems, along with the general servicing of the Mitsubishi Evo IX. With all this complete, it was on to the final stage of the rally, the 28.8km San Juan Atzompa.

Powell and Fennell, now with intercom working, scorched through the stage in 18 mins 52.7 seconds, beating the rally leader by a whopping 23 seconds, snatching a moral victory to close off a long day.

Powell and Fennell head next to the Rally Montanas in Oaxaca, Mexico, May 18-19 for Round 2 of the NACAM Rally Championship.

They then go to Costa Rica (July 6-8), Peru (August 30-September 2), Ecuador (October 12-14) and Colombia (November 16-18). The Powell Rally Team is supported by FT Farfan (Shell).

  • Final results

1. Trivino/Hernandez - 1:28:54.4 - 25 pts

2. Powell/Fennell - 1:30:08.6 - 18pts

3. Izquierdo/Izquierdo - 1:34:08.8 - 15pts