The dust has now settled on Sol Rally Barbados 2017 after 22 Special Stages covering 132.7 km’s across the island. With 93 crews entered, the Chefette Speed Team was set to do battle for overall 2WD honours. The previous week, there was success as Rhett had claimed the fastest 2WD on Flow King of the Hill and all 3 Speed Team drivers had made the top 10 on the event.
The teams all took part in the ceremonial start at Sol Warrens and headed north to the first two night stages on the 7.7km Sailor Gully to Diamond Corner stage. However, it was drama early on for the Speed Team as Rhett developed an electrical issue at the start and did not tackle any of the Friday night stages. Hard work through the night was thought to rectify the problem, but with it reoccurring the Saturday morning as well, the team opted to retire and not risk having a fire with the car.
Though getting to run 3 stages, things didn’t go much better for Roger and the WR Starlet. He was 2nd fastest 2WD after the first Friday night run, but from the 2nd run of the stage, his Flow King of the Hill gearbox issues resurfaced. The team worked in the night to repair the problem but on the Saturday morning it started to reoccur and at the end of the day’s first stage, they retired. Subsequent checks have suggested that last year’s crash may have been the source of the gearbox issues.
Barry and navigator Ben Norris were left to fly the Chefette flag and they did so with distinction. They spent much of Saturday’s stages trying to stay in touch with a very fast Dane Skeete who had been setting blistering times from the Friday night stages. Dane was the pace setter throughout the Saturday in the 2WD’s but on the Sunday Barry was much closer. However, to finish first, one must first finish and much to everyone’s disappointment, Dane’s engine expired on SS16 which meant that Barry who was sitting firmly in 2nd in the 2WD class, moved up to 1st. He held onto this until the end of the rally to be 7th overall, fastest 2WD and 1st in group SM2. Below is Barry's reflection on the event:
“After a challenging King of the Hill, we were able to get a replacement shock the next week. I didn't approach the rally with any real expectations and the first goal was to get through the Friday night stages. Days 1 & 2 were challenging days but we were able to push harder on Day 3. The other top guys fell out early, which played into our hands, but I felt really bad for Dane who really was uncatchable on the weekend. However, I'm happy to have made it to the end and be the fastest 2WD on Sol Rally Barbados once again.”