Focus shifts to Rally Barbados

With the dust settled after a rather tricky First Citizens King Of The Hill event last Sunday and the engines cooling down for the next few days, some of the leading protagonists are shifting focus to this weekend’s British Caribbean Insurance Company (BCIC) Rally Barbados.

Dane Skeete has established himself as frontrunner with some impeccable times that led to him becoming the “king of the hill”.

However, it is not a position the Subaru driver is used to as he was never victorious on the pre-event warm-up and has admitted that he prefers not being first on the road.

Still, he relishes the challenge.

“We had some ups and downs with the stage itself with some delays due to incidents, which didn’t help the rhythm. Stuart [Maloney] pushed me, so we had to put 100 per cent of everything on the table,” Skeete said,

“We would prefer not to be in car No. 1, but I definitely like winning

King Of The Hill, so I’ll sweep the road for the others next weekend.”

Maloney said he will be looking to benefit from his road position as second driver on the road, especially if conditions stay dry. However, if it rains and mud is swept on the road from cutting, there could be issues.

Despite the possible advantages or disadvantages of his position, the Skoda driver might just become the first Maloney to win Barbados’ marque rally event as a driver.

“I am very happy with the finish, and I know I left some time in. I have a lot of confidence going into next weekend and believe I can take the fight to Dane,” Maloney said.

His brother Mark Maloney is scheduled to be the third man on the road, and after he narrowly finished behind his sibling last Sunday, one can expect a tough battle at the sharp end of the field.

“It was mixed conditions and I was conservative at the start. When I saw that the times were competitive, I tried to be more consistent and every corner to take a bit more out of it,” Mark said.

The Skoda Fabia Evo2 driver is counting on his momentum to be the catalyst for victory.

“I kept chipping away at it.

Hopefully, we can carry that into the next weekend,” he said.

Every year for Rally Barbados, one of the biggest threats comes from Caribbean neighbours Jamaica in the form of Jeffrey Panton and Mike Fennel Jr.

The pair are the only team to have won Rally Barbados four times in a row (from 2015 to 2018). Panton also has a title from 1998, when he was co-piloted by De Mercado John.

King Of The Hill is always very competitive where the times are close and any mistakes or hesitation are punished. We are on pace and know where we lost the time. Attrition rate will be a factor next week, so the plan is to be on pace early, be at the end and to manage the weather that is forecast,” Panton said as he reflected on last Sunday’s event. (SW)

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