1987 - 96 A New Stage
Established names and rising young stars were sharing the honours as the Barbados Rally Club moved into its fourth decade; nowhere would this mixture of the ‘old guard’ and the ‘younger brigade’ be more evident over the next few years than in the results of the June Rally, still viewed in the late 1980s as the Club’s premier event . . . although that was going to change.
Esso returned in 1987 to share sponsorship of the 31st June Rally with Rothmans, which withdrew the following year, handing sole rights back to the fuel company for the first time since 1973; Esso had continued to be involved with the Club in a number of ways, sponsoring the Club’s Speed Events Championship for instance, and would miss only one June Rally in the next 10.
Although the first rally of the new decade had failed to attract any overseas visitors – the start of an almost regular pattern as far as the June Rally was concerned – there was still a healthy entry of 41, including nine cars from the Barbados Motoring Club, in their first official entry on a Rally Club event.
Club chairman David Edwards had won the June Rally twice as navigator for Roger Manning and his route-setting skills were well-known. The 1987 event drew high praise in a contemporary report in The Bajan: “The Rothmans Esso June Rally will be remembered as one of the best ever. David Edwards and his organising committee of Tommy Bentley, Brian Hinds and Prince Willock can take much credit.” There was kudos, too, for the ICL Computer results team for “the fastest overall results that have ever been produced.”
Oh, and it was rough . . . but that was to be expected. As The Bajan commented: “In recent years, the route setters have been aided in their rough route routine by the island-wide deterioration of the road system.” One notable exception was the run up from Greenland to Farley Hill, this section of road recently resurfaced as the first part of the North Industrial Access Road; fastest was the Peugeot 205GTi of Roger Skeete although, as it was not then policy to measure the distance, average speeds were not known, beyond The Bajan’s surmise that “without doubt, they reached record highs.”
Not only was the event an organisational success, apart from some small criticisms of special stages running from daylight into darkness so all competitors did not enjoy a level playing field, but it was also a very close-fought event. Winners David Barnard and Kevyn Yearwood came under pressure throughout, and might not have made it to the finish at all, but for a rapid make-shift repair of a broken clutch pin on their Toyota Starlet by John Corbin.
Fortunately for them, however, other front-runners also encountered problems; both had won the event in the past with different partners – their 1987 victory was Barnard’s third and Yearwood’s second. They came close again – third, in a very tight finish the following year – and, while Barnard would not win again, Yearwood would clock up his third nearly 20 years later.
In 1988, Manning and Edwards became the second crew (following Richard Cummins/Richard Rose) to win the event three times, although they crammed their victories into eight years, compared with 15 for the two Richards. In doing so, they set yet another new target in an event known for record-breaking performances.
Read More in 0-50: The Barbados Rally Club, 1957-2007.
Written by Robin Bradford.
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