Ja to invade Trinidad

Friday, March 29, 2019

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FIVE Jamaican rally crews will head to Rally Trinidad next week to compete in the event scheduled for April 5 — 7.

The announcement was make at a press launch held last Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The contingent — consisting of Kyle Gregg, Marcia Dawes, Timothy Stewart, Stephen Gunter, Joel Jackson, Dimitri Dawkins, Lee Vaz, Andrew Graham, Bobby Marshall, and Michelle Laidlaw — is being facilitated by the efforts of the organisers of Rally Jamaica, Reggae Racers, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport.

“Harold Morley, a Bajan who has been coming to Rally Jamaica for over 12 years consecutively now, has been launching an appeal for a team from Jamaica to go and compete in Rally Trinidad. Every year we've been promising and saying we want to do it. This year for the first time, in a long time, we're doing it,” Lawrence Henriques of Rally Jamaica told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Rally Trinidad has seen individual participation on the part of Jamaica competitors, however, this is the first and largest collective sent on behalf of the country to the event.

The team will be split across three classes in an attempt to maximise success. Jackson and Dawkins will run the equivalent Group A, the highest. Marshall and Laidlaw will run the class for front-wheel drive naturally aspirated cars. The remaining three crews will race in Group N, for showroom-based rally cars.

Leading the team on the basis of having the most experience is Marshall. Marshall in 2008 became Trinidadian Rally Champion and is intimately familiar with the stages the Jamaican crews will tackle next weekend.

“The stages are more dangerous than what we have in Jamaica,” Marshall said.

While Jamaica has fast flowing stages with plenty of run off areas, in Trinidad the rally stages tend to be narrow and lined with culverts that can easily destroy a car.

“You just have to look out for the culverts, so it's not about the flamboyance style, you have to be neat.”

Marshall's words were echoed by Jackson, 2016 Rally Jamaica winner and a three time visitor to Rally Trinidad. In their last visit they were halted on the first stage when they hit a culvert and damaged their suspension.

“We last went in 2015, so we have a little bit of experience there,” Jackson said.

This time around Jackson is aiming for the top step of the podium by switching their car to fit the faster Group A class.

“Our plan is go there and win basically. Anything short of that would be a disappointment. It's the same car, but what we did is made some changes to the engine to step up to what is Group A, which is the class where you're allowed to modify the car. The reason being is that the faster guys there are running Group A as well,” Jackson explained.

He hopes the class switch will give him the best chance at victory.

While Jamaican victory is an aim, Henriques is betting on reciprocation at the end of the year by Trinidadian competitors.

“We, Rally Jamaica and Rally Trinidad are the two longest running dirt rallies in the region, and essentially you don't have to do any changes to your vehicle, suspension, etc. We are supporting dirt rallying,” Henriques added.

— Rory Daley

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