Rally Barbados 2004 was interesting to say the least. What
with the unpredictable weather from the week before, and questions
with the turbo reliability a week before the big event, and
then the top it all off, me getting the flu the day before
Rally Barbados, at times it seemed as though we were destined
not to compete.
this was not the case. Chad and I had put too much time and
effort into preparing for this event to not make the start
without a fight. We got the car from ProAuto Works Inc. on
Friday morning, working as best as it could under the circumstances.
Still not getting full boost, but confident that it was not
because the turbo was on its last legs. I spent the remainder
of Friday morning and early afternoon, doing one last drive
through of all the stages, checking for any road repairs and
areas where water collected. Around 7:30 Friday night Stuart
Garcia (half of my service crew) and I put on the new tyres,
loaded the service vehicle with the spares, tools, fuel, and
spot lights, put on competition numbers, and called it a night.
I was determined to get a good nights sleep. My flu had other
ideas, keeping me up all night, sneezing and coughing.
Chad and I made it to the start at Simpson Motors on time
and limed around, all the while, me hoping for some more rain
to dampen the roads, Toyo Proxies T1S' work great in the dry,
and amazing in the wet. First three stages went well, with
a little damp conditions, which kept Brit, Simon Wallis in
the Vauxhall Astra GTE, off the pace, and allowed me to take
3rd, as I was down on power and no where near Freddy and Dereks
times. On the way to the second running of Pickering North,
we passed Freddy off the road with radiator problems, which
turned out to be the undoing of Freddy and Kyles bid to battle
with Derek and Tricia for first place.
lunch we had heard Freddy had decided to drop out to replace
his radiator and return for the Sunday cup, so we had moved
up to second, because of Freddy's unfortunate luck. The roads
had started drying out as well, and Wallis was now putting
down times at least 5secs faster than mine on the longer stages.
Luckily some showers in the night put him back on the defensive,
and I was able to finish day 1 of Rally Barbados in second
place of Group P3 and 42nd overall.
Day two was an early start, with all competitors arriving
at the restart for 7am. Another rough night of coughing and
sneezing, but luckily no car troubles to deal with. We discovered
at the restart that Simon was about 30sec behind us, and we
were about 150secs behind Derek in the Mini Cooper S. So my
plan for the day was to try to stay ahead of Simon, and keep
the car on the road. Unfortunately for me, Sunday was hot
and sunny, and by the end of the 4th stage Simon had snatched
2nd place from me. So the plan was now, keep the car on the
road, and finish the rally. As luck would have it, on the
second run of Kendal North, I hit some loose stuff in a 90
right, and slid off the road and into some scenery and rocks,
damaging the right rear tyre. Then in Malvern stage, cut a
corner too close and damaged the right front tyre.
Back at the lunch stop at Six Roads we learnt that Simon
had broken a drive shaft on the last Stewarts Hill East, and
we were back in second place, but only by 34secs. with 6 stages
to go, and no rain in sight. It would be a tall order to hold
on to the second place, but I was going to give it my best.
We checked out of Lunch on time and headed for Stewarts Hill
West, no Simon in sight. Finished the stage with a clean run,
and made our way to Wilson Hill. Sat there for about 20mins
waiting for the stage to start, and also waiting for Simon
to show. Finally we got word that all stages had been cancelled
and to head to Vaucluse for the Super Special.
We arrived at VRW, and still no sign of Simon. Did he make
it to Stewarts Hill, or has he dropped out? No one knew. Well
there was no point worrying about that, as I could do nothing
about it. So Chad and I decided to have some fun around Vaucluse,
and drive to finish. The clutch was slipping, brakes were
binding, and both the car and its crew were tired. We lined
up on the grid against Sean Corbin and Isa Went in their Naturally
Aspirated Starlet 1300, which I had been doing similar times
to at Bushy Park the week before. The
Red light came on and Chad said "remember, we need to
finish this stage to be considered overall." My response
"yeah ok." Amber light flashes on, "just take
your time and finish." "no problem Chad". Green
light flashes and I am off, pulling ahead of Sean by a couple
of feet. Around the first long right hander and the car feels
good, sliding just how I like it. Throttle down and pull 3rd
approaching the bridge, back into 2nd and touch the brake
to bring the back around, and flat over the bridge, and little
left foot brake to enter the long straight. I glance over
my shoulder and don't see Sean, but I am not taking any chances.
Through the hairpin and cautiously through the water, and
off for the second track. Went a bit wide on the inner hairpin,
but not enough to lose too much time, but long enough to see
Sean on the outer track. Under the bridge and flat over the
crest towards the concrete barriers. Through the right hander
and I glance to the right, but don't see Sean. Still not taking
any chances that he catch me, so didn't back off any. Ended
up crossing the line in 2m33s and good enough to win the group
for the Super Special. Sean
had the misfortune of hitting the water too hard and stalling.
Later on in the pits, I was told by one of Simons crew that
he had checked out of lunch late, but he did make the last
stage, but had gotten held up going up the narrow hill by
a slower competitor, which meant that Chad and I had finished
second in Grp P3, and 33rd overall.
Thanks to my sponsors Nassco, Phillips Lighting, Toyo Tires,
Mobil 1, Denso Plugs and Freeztone Coolant, for their assistance
so far this year. I would also like to thank the guys at ProAuto
Works for preparing the car under some tough circumstances.
I cannot leave out Stuart Garcia and Christie Blades for volunteering
to be my service crew, they did a fantastic job of not only
keeping the car going, but keeping Chad and I fed and hydrated.
Finally I must thank the marshals and officials for doing
an outstanding job, thanks for volunteering your time so that
we can spend an hour driving full tilt on stages. I look forward
to seeing you all at the remaining events this year.