courtesy Barbados Rally Club/Image Vault, Stuart Maloney (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) mastered the conditions to win Sunday’s Shakedown Stages

 Fans turn out in their numbers for season’s opening event

With a weather system covering the island and a flood warning in place, torrential rain and high winds created treacherous conditions for competitors in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Shakedown Stages on Sunday’s (April 23). Three of the top four seeds failed to finish what became a rally of attrition, but the Club’s 2021 Champion Driver Stuart Maloney mastered the conditions to head home the 34 finishers.
  With co-driver Kristian Yearwood in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, re-shelled since last year and still not in full livery, Maloney was fastest on two of the eight stages run, beating Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Fabia R5) to the overall and FIA R5 class win by 15.62 seconds. A switch to slicks for the final stage enabled Jamaicans Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell (Fabia Rally2 evo) to overhaul fellow-countryman Kyle Gregg and Michael Worme for third, nevertheless an impressive debut for Gregg’s Ford Fiesta Rally2.
  Maloney said: “This morning was not very positive but, as the day progressed, I started to find a groove; the car was always good. My biggest competition was Dane; we were not too far apart on times. I want to beat him, and to beat him on Sol Rally Barbados.”
  The opening round of the BRC Driver’s & Class Championships had attracted a 50-strong entry, but last-minute issues saw just 42 cars head out from the Service Park at Hayman’s Plantation in St Peter for first 3.90-kilometre stage from Lamberts to Pickerings. Josh Read was the day’s first casualty when his Fiesta R5 ploughed off the road on SS1; both Read and co-driver Mark Jordan were uninjured.
  Fastest on the first two stages, Britain’s Rob Swann, who has switched from Fiesta to Fabia during the winter, was the early leader - Maloney and Dane Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) were joint second, 1.76secs back – but he struck a power pole after the flying finish of the first Mt Brevitor to Sailor Gully stage (3.20km), with a front-right puncture which meant he couldn’t turn and avoid the impact. He and co-driver Darren Garrod survived better than the car, but the incident resulted in most of the field being given notional times. The second run through that stage was also cancelled and then it was shortened for the two afternoon passes to facilitate repair works.
  Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard said: "The first couple of stages always set the tone to how a rally unfolds. We had very a challenging morning with the accidents on stages one and two and then a flash flood situation in St Peter and steady rain in St Lucy. The afternoon ran very smoothly, but we’re very thankful for the safety measures in place for competitors and spectators and the assistance of Roving Response. I have to thank all of our volunteers who assisted in fairly difficult conditions. It's really been a ’shakedown’ for everyone - competitors as well!”
  A 6secs win on the second Lamberts stage gave Skeete a healthy cushion over Maloney, who was in turn 5secs clear of the remaining cars fighting for points in the R5 Rally Championship, presented by First Citizens. Gregg headed that group, with just over 5secs spread across six cars, the closest being Hill and Panton.
  Skeete won the first two stages after lunch but had anti-lag issues which finally spelled the end for the sole WRC entry, handing Maloney the lead; fastest on the penultimate reversed Pickerings to Lamberts and the final Mt Brevitor stages, he consolidated his position over the chasing R5 pack. Hill and Gregg were separated by just two-tenths going into the final stage, with Panton 5secs behind; a switch to slicks did the trick, a stage win earning third place, 1.5secs behind Hill and just sixth-tenths ahead of Gregg.
  Panton said: “We struggled all day and I'm not sure why. The last stage I went for slicks as it was drying out in the previous run. I was able to go flat in corners I had been going down a gear for, so the tyre does play a big role.” Gregg was happy, though: “I really didn't expect to be up there, especially with these guys having more experience in the cars and stages. After the first stage I was within three seconds of them so I said I'll step it up and see what I can do and I'm happy to get to the finish.”
  Mark Maloney (Fabia Rally2 evo) finished fifth, up from seventh at lunch helped by two top three times in the afternoon stages, while the all-R5 top seven was completed by the Turks & Caicos Rally Team’s Paul Horton, enjoying his first outing on the island in his Citroen C3 Rally2, and Andrew Mallalieu (Fiesta R5).
  Just 8secs separated the leading two-wheel-drive cars at the finish, Roger Mayers (Toyota WR Starlet) regaining the advantage and the SuperModified 2 class win from his brother Barry (Fiesta), who had led in the wet after the first two stages. Logan Watson finished third in 2wd and 10th overall, also winning Modified 3, despite his BMW M3 being running with two burst rear shock absorbers. Roger said: “In the wet Barry has an edge on me, so I had to claw back as it dried out, which had us neck and neck all day. Now it’s a full strip down to prep for King of the Hill and Sol Rally Barbados.” His brother added: “The day was horrendous, terrible conditions, every stage was treacherous with some corners with grip and some without. I had two offs but I’m happy that the car is in one piece so I'll take the seconds Roger gave me today.”
  With slippery roads and corners covered in mud, grip was at a premium, particularly for the rear-wheel-drives. Despite the extreme weather, spectator points were packed with fans, who cheered some fine slideways and drifting displays, with the BMW M3s of Justin Campbell and Ahmed Esuf earning particular points for style, along with BimmaCup regulars such as Greg Cozier, Derek Edwards and Allan Kinch.

BRC Shakedown Stages - Sunday, April 23
2023 BRC Driver’s & Class Championships, round 1

1st Stuart Maloney/Kristian Yearwood (FIA R5 Rock Hard/VP Fuels/Chevron/Bushy Park Barbados/Sign Station Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), 18m 18.84s
2nd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (FIA R5 Esso/MaxMeyer Paints/MotorMac Skoda Fabia R5), + 15.62
3rd Jeffrey Panton – JAM/Michael Fennell Jnr - JAM (FIA R5 KIG/Sandals Resorts/Bushy Park Barbados Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), + 17.14
4th Kyle Gregg – JAM/Orry Hunte (FIA R5 BD Gregg Ford Fiesta Rally2), + 17.80
5th Mark Maloney/Justin Maloney (FIA R5 Rock Hard Cement/M-Jet/Bushy Park Barbados/Sign Station Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), + 24.58
6th Paul Horton - TCI/Michael Worme(FIA R5 Java Island/HO2 Construction/Sky Motorsports Citroen C3 Rally2), + 36.07
7th Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (FIA R5 Terra Caribbean Ford Fiesta R5), + 42.95
8th Roger Mayers/Barry Ward (SM2 Chefette/Frosteez/Quality Tyre/Sign Depot Toyota WR Starlet), + 56.21
9th Barry Mayers/Ben Norris (SM2 Chefette/Frosteez/Quality Tyre/Sign Depot Ford Fiesta), 1:05.10
10th Logan Watson/Andrew Croney (M3 Cargo BGI/Packaging Center/Enermax/Luxe Caribbean Properties/Sthil/Jack Daniels/Fete Patch/It’s Barbados/Bajan Pure Water/Quality Tyre BMW M3), + 1:32.44
WRC: no finishers
FIA R5: 1st S Maloney/Yearwood; 2nd Hill/Gittens; 3rd Panton/Fennell; etc
Modified 4: 1st George Sherman - USA/Andy Grimstone - ENG (Tide Cleaners/Subway Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 21m 22.66s – 21st overall
SuperModified 2: 1st R Mayers/Ward, 19:15.05; 2nd B Mayers/Norris, + 08.89; 3rd Jonathan Still/Heath Hazell (Silver Technetium Group/Ino-Gro/Suga Apple Swimwear BMW M3), + 1:44.60
SM1: 1st Darren Lashley/Jason Harewood (Hi-Speed Performance Parts/Starboy Performance/HEL Performance/Lashley’s Auto Garage Toyota Starlet), 22:53.92 – 31st o/a
M3: 1st L Watson/A Croney, 19:51.28; 2nd Ahmed Esuf/Ryan Ali (Express Imports/Prosales/SY Adam & Son/Cosmo Club/Saltwater Project/Royal Chai BMW M3), + 2:41.63; 3rd Justin Campbell/Ayrton Bannister (Republic Bank/Automotive Art/Camps Auto Services/HEL Performance/COT Printing/New York Pizza/Premier Diamonds/AEC Components/Dream Freighting BMW M3), + 2:54.55
M2: 1st Neil Corbin/Matthew Staffner (Nassco Limited/H Jason Jones/Auto Solutions/Stamina Energy/Pressout Performance Toyota GT86 CS-R3), 20:07.47 – 12th o/a 2nd Sean Corbin/Emily Kinch (F) (M2 Super-S/Carters Pitstop/Kikks/Westlake Tyres/Gunk BMW 318ti), + 33.15
M1: 1st Edward Corbin/Johnathan Alleyne (Prosales/Automotive Art/Hilti/Cargo BGI Daihatsu Charmant), 19:58.64 – 11th o/a; 2nd Horatio Brown – JAM/Leslie Evanson (Fast Parts Caribbean/Esuf Racing/Garage 61/RAW Power Motorsports Citroen C2R2), + 1:14.02; 3rd Pierre Clarke/Ezra Gibbs (SDRR Hydraulics/Camps Auto Services Honda Civic), + 1:28.32; etc
Clubman 3: 1st Kevin Armstrong/Shawn Brathwaite (Armstrong Auto BMW 325i), 21:11.56 – 19th o/a
C2: 1st Ian Warren/Elijah Marshall (Guava Tech/Westlake/Benthams Farm & Garden BimmaCup), 20:37.31 – 13th o/a; 2nd Chris Hoad/Castara Waterman (F) (Subway/Guava Tech/Dasani Water/Shell Lubricants/Color XL BimmaCup), + 04.94; 3rd Allan Kinch/Kyle Proverbs (Savvy on the Bay/Yorkshire Agricultural Services BimmaCup), + 09.56; etc
C1: 1st Wayne Tasker/Keenan Barker (Winston Enterprises/Shalom Management Services Opel Corsa R), 26:58.38 – 32 nd o/a
GpB: 1st Mark Huggins/Stephen Bell (General Distributors Daihatsu Charmant), 27:19.49

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