Maloney makes history with victory in BCIC RB24

images courtesy BRC/Image Vault (Prizegiving, President at Bushy Park) and BRC/Gerrard Wilson, BCIC RB24 winners stuart Maloney (right) and Kristian Yearwood receive their trophies from Lori-Ann Glasgow, General Manager, Marketing BCIC

Stuart Maloney and Kristian Yearwood won last weekend’s BCIC Rally Barbados 2024, Maloney the first participant to win the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international as both driver and co-driver. A passing weather system with frequent and unpredictable rain showers made the 21 special stages hugely challenging for the record number of 100 crews who started the 34th edition of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event under floodlights at Bushy Park on Friday evening (May 31).
  Maloney won in 2007 as co-driver to Paul ‘Surfer’ Bourne, who died earlier this year. Their successful partnership also included twice winning Rally Trinidad, in 2004 & ’08, and they remained close, Bourne offering counsel during Maloney’s circuit-racing career. and he dedicated the win to his “sorely-missed” friend: “Paul was riding on my shoulder, that’s for sure. After so long chasing the win, it feels great. Saturday was stress with the unpredictable conditions and that brought lots of pressure. I tried to be consistent after taking the lead, not having to be fastest each time but to be there at the end.”
  Driving his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2, Maloney’s winning margin was 14.72s; he was hounded all weekend by Jeff Panton (Fabia Rally2 evo), the Jamaican partnered by Mike Fennell Jnr with whom he claimed back-to-back victories in 2015-2018. Countryman Kyle Gregg finished third with Bajan co-driver Orry Hunte, a further 53secs back, his Ford Fiesta Rally2 bearing the scars of its serious accident a week earlier. Rhett Watson (BMW M3) claimed his third top 2wd title, the first with British co-driver Sam Perring.
  The President of Barbados, The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, attended Friday’s floodlit stages at the invitation of the Women in Motorsport (WiM) Committee of the island’s governing body of motor sport, the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF). After a brief Meet & Greet in the Pits with a number of female officials and volunteer marshals, Her Excellency spent the evening in a Hospitality Box overlooking the circuit.
  The two 2.6-kilometre Bushy Park stages sandwiched a 5.9km run through Featherbed Lane in St John, around 10 per cent of the entire stage distance and enough to give some clues as to the storylines of the weekend. Seeded at one in their Subaru Impreza WRC S12 after winning First Citizens King of the Hill, Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew were in trouble from early, a faulty clutch sensor meaning a slow rolling start to each stage, placing them 12th overnight and 29s behind the leader, with a third Rally Barbados victory looking remote.
  Mark Maloney (Fabia Rally2 evo) won the Bushy Park opener, then finished third on Featherbed Lane behind his brother and Panton but ploughed off into a gravel trap on the return to the facility, dropping him to 18th. Adam Mallalieu, at 20 years of age the youngest driver in the Barbados Rally2 Championship, won the second floodlit run in his Fiesta R5, like Gregg’s the subject of major repairs during the week, with spare parts for the Jamaican’s car landing at the nearby airport only hours before the start. With a cushion of half-a-second over Panton, Stuart Maloney led overnight, with Gregg a delighted third, his main rival for the Rally2 title Josh Read (Fiesta R5) fourth, Mallalieu fifth and the top European, Kevin Procter, sixth in his WRC class Fiesta S2000T.
  Overnight rain and random showers were to make tyre choice both critical and near-impossible. With the more traditional format flipped, three loops of Malvern (6.30km), Automotive Art Kendal (7.80km) and Banks Padmore (5.80km) in the island’s south-east corner were scheduled for Saturday, Maloney winning three of the six before lunch to increase his advantage to nearly 12secs over Panton, who remained second.
  Skeete won the other three to lie seventh at lunch, but his deficit had grown to nearly 80secs after a shower hit the last Padmore of the morning with only a handful of cars through. This shower also caught out Britain’s Rob Swann (Fabia Rally2 evo), who had moved up to third but suddenly plummeted to the low 30s. While Adam Mallalieu slipped out of the top six during the morning, he was back into third by lunch, ahead of Gregg, 4wd newcomer for 2024 Logan Watson (Fabia Rally evo) and Read.
  Two stage wins in the final loop consolidated the former Caribbean Junior Karting Champion’s third place, 20s ahead of Gregg and 26s behind Panton, while Maloney lost some of his 12s cushion to Panton with an off-stage excursion on the final Malvern and a high-speed over-shoot (and uber-high-speed recovery) at the Woodland triangle on Kendal. Watson was now fifth, with Mark Maloney back into the top six.
  With weather still the main topic of conversation - it cancelled the day’s first stage – Sunday’s schedule offered two loops through Dark Hole (5.20km), Lamberts (6.50km) and Four Hills (4.00km) in the north of the island before lunch, with the first two venues used again before a return to Bushy Park for one untimed stage and the Rally Finish.
  Managing gaps would be crucial. Maloney won the first Lamberts, then kept ahead of Panton by small margins on all but the penultimate stage, Panton’s only stage win of the weekend, to claim victory. Mallalieu slid wide and smashed two wheels in Dark Hole, dropping out of the overall running – weirdly, his father Andrew (Fiesta R5) also lost a rear wheel at the flying finish – while Procter was unlucky to become beached in the first Lamberts, going OTL after he had looked set for the WRC class win.
  After Mallalieu’s accident, Gregg resumed third place, while a determined Mark Maloney claimed three stage wins (if you discount those achieved by Procter and Skeete, who were no longer in the overall running) to climb up to fourth, ahead of Read and Watson.
  Roger Hill, who is now the only driver to have contested all 34 events since 1991, finished seventh in his Fabia R5 with co-driver Graham Gittens, claiming a 25th top 10 finish; the Fiesta R5s of Andrew Mallalieu and Geoff Goddard and the highest-placed European crew, Roger Duckworth and Alun Cook were eighth and ninth, with the top 10 completed by Modified 4 winners Kurt Thompson and Adam Straker, competing in 4wd for the first time in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Thompson said: “I cried on my father's shoulders this evening, I have back the joy I have not felt from rallying for a long time.”
  Top 2wd seed, Roger Mayers, was unable to start – his Toyota WR Starlet had a cracked cylinder head and was leaking coolant – leaving the M&M Racing Team to be represented only by the Fiesta of brother Barry and Ben Norris, who had finished third behind Watson at KotH. With three stage wins on Friday, Mayers took control, but his overnight lead of around 2secs was turned into a deficit of 3secs on Saturday’s first Malvern, when Watson assumed a lead he was not to lose.
  That is not to say there was not an intense competition, as stage wins were swapped back and forth: Mayers won eight, Watson seven, Mark Kinch four - he chauffeured the highest-placed female co-driver Natasha Farnum in his BMW M3 Compact - and Andrew Jones/Lindsey Pilkington (Ford Escort MkII) one. Even with a lead of 22s on Sunday morning, Watson was watchful; both Mayers and Kinch finished ahead of him on Sunday times, then a puncture in the final Four Hills cut his winning margin to under 5secs, but he was happy: “It felt great to be in the running for top 2wd after being out of it for so long. It has been nine years since my last 2wd win and this was definitely the sweetest.”
  The top three in 2wd were also the SuperModified 2 podium, with Jones fourth, but behind them the front-running Modified cars battled away on Saturday, the BMW M3s of Justin Campbell and Sol Esuf, plus the Toyota GT86 CS-R3 of Neil Corbin all taking their place in the top six 2wd. Campbell was 16th overall, winning M3 by 20s from Esuf, with Jonathan Still third, while Corbin placed 18th, taking his third consecutive M2 class win ahead of Chris Ullyett (Ford Escort RS2000) and Sean Corbin (BimmaCup).
  After retiring with a misfire last year, Edward Corbin claimed an 11th class win, now in SM1 with his Daihatsu Charmant; it wasn’t the easiest, however, as he was pushed hard, at least on Saturday, by the similar car of Tremaine Forde-Catwell, who had won the class at KotH. Fabien Clarke finished third in his Suzuki Ignis Sport after a very strong run for Carlos Edwards (Citroen C2R2) ended on Sunday morning.
  Reigning BimmaCup Champion and current leader of the BRC Driver’s Championship, Chris Hoad won Clubman 2 for the first time in Rally Barbados, pushed hard early on by Allan Kinch, with USA-based Englishman Russell Smith finishing third. C1 went to Kyle Gill (Mitsubishi Mirage) from Wayne Tasker (Opel Corsa B) and Shawn Brathwaite (Toyota Corolla) on his debut in the event.
  Both historic classes were contested this year, albeit entirely by overseas crews apart from Harold Morley (Porsche 911RSR), the former British road rally champion who now has island citizenship; he finished his first Rally Barbados since 2020, beaten in Historic 2 by Chris Shooter and Bev LeGood (Ford Escort MkII) who claimed their third back-to-back class win. In H1, last year’s lone entrant Ireland’s Mick Smith (Sunbeam Imp) this year had some competition from Scottish couple Robin and Vanessa Hamilton who drove their MkI Escort to a third class win in four visits.
  Other overseas visitors to return home with trophies are: Scotland’s Fraser Louden and Ashleigh Will, who were the last crew standing in the WRC class in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Proto; Martin Stockdale and Graeme Wood (BMW 1M Coupe) marking the driver’s 22nd participation with victory in Group B; second and third in M4 were the Lancer Evo IXs of British crews Nik Elsmore and Pauline Nash, and Ian Barclay and wife Sue Plater, a particular achievement for the Elsmore family team, who had missed KotH and had to rebuild their Evo’s engine ahead of RB24.
  After the Impreza’s catalogue of issues dropped him out of the overall running, Skeete returned for the Sunday Cup, winning three stages and finishing second on two more (just four seconds adrift of winner Maloney on the day’s seven stages). Second were the spectacular Barry McKenna from Ireland and Andy Hayes in the first Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 to reach the island, with a stage win on the final Sailor Gully an indication of what might have been had they not left the road on Saturday’s first Automotive Art Kendal. Ryan Wood and Tristan Mapp finished third in their BimmaCup.
  Skeete said: “When I look back at the event, all I can say is that it was rough. It was obvious we had the pace to be up front, but we must get on top of reliability - we were chasing electrical problems all weekend.”
  After the results were made final yesterday (Monday), the Prizegiving at The Boatyard beach bar in the island’s capital, Bridgetown, was well attended. In addition to the individual trophies presented, The Spirit of the Rally Award was won by the whole crew responsible for the rebuilding of the FIA R5 class Ford Fiestas of Jamaica’s Kyle Gregg and Adam Mallalieu, a signal achievement against the clock following KotH.

BCIC Rally Barbados (May 31-June 2) is a tarmac rally with around 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; the previous Sunday’s (May 26) First Citizens King of the Hill sprint, run under a similar arrangement, features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for the main event.

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