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Panton misses rally triple crown

Rory Daley

Friday, June 14, 2013    

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JAMAICAN rally pair of Jeffery Panton and his navigator Michael Fennell Jr could only manage second-place in Rally Barbados in that country last weekend.

Victory went to England's Paul Bird.

"He was just faster than us," Fennell told Auto reflecting on the 24-second difference between themselves and Bird at the end of the event.

Panton and Fennell Jr began their tough task to win all three of the Caribbean's top rallies back-to-back-to-back in December when they reclaimed the Rally Jamaica trophy.

In March, they won Rally Trinidad and prepared for the all-tarmac Rally Barbados, the Caribbean's largest rally event this month.

The odds seemed stacked against the Jamaicans from the very beginning with a record 13 World Rally Cars in their class. Not only would they have to contend with the expertise of local drivers, but Bird — who had won the event previously, was also driving a newer model Ford Focus WRC than the Jamaicans.

"We almost didn't start the rally. Our M-Sport engineer had to bring a part from England with him and then we had no boost-turning testing. It wasn't until we were on our way to the start ramp when we realised the car was working properly," Fennell said.

From that point on, Panton and Fennell never looked back as they stayed in the top three for the majority of the event, winning several stages over the two days. However, that was not enough to catch Bird who had a 28-second lead on the first day.

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