Showdown At The Orchards


Showdown At The Orchards

Rally 'round the Orchards

Observer writer

Friday, December 06, 2019

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THE Richard Stewart Memorial Rally Jamaica 2019 is expected to be the most competitive in recent times, according to 2018 winner Kyle Gregg.

Launched at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, on Wednesday, the event is scheduled for the Tru-Juice Orchards in Bog Walk, St Catherine, tomorrow and Sunday.

“This year the competition level is crazy. Five people can realistically win the rally. This year, the event has been creating a lot of hype in the rally community so everyone has been putting in work, others have been practising, but I really want the back-to-back win,” Gregg told the J amaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

The action begins at 9:30 am tomorrow, after tonight's opening ceremony at B D Gregg & Bros, on South Camp Road in Kingston. All 12 teams and their cars will be on show at the meet and greet occasion.

During the two days of the rally, competitors will visit the well-known stages of Byrook and New Hall tomorrow, and move to Mickleton and Wakefield on Sunday.

Last year's victory didn't come easy for Gregg and co-driver Marcia Dawes. The pair battled through mechanical problems and several challenges from rivals, including Lee Vaz, Joel Jackson and Timothy Stewart to take the 2018 Richard Stewart Memorial Rally Jamaica.

“Last year, our plan was to start slow, then gradually pick up the pace, it's a rally and anything can happen. Stage Two we lost our gearbox, we were stuck in gear, so we had to fight for the rest of the day,” said Gregg.

Despite only having done one rally on local soil this year, co-driver Dawes is happy with their chances after their pace -oting session earlier in the week.

“Two of the stages are completely new which are Mickleton and Bybrook, we went and looked at those and they're really good, really fast. New Hall will be new for me, as it's the first time I'm doing a rally there. It was really fast and really tight, so I'm looking forward to it,” she told Auto.

Vaz, who finished second last year, is looking to move up on the leaderboard.

“That's the goal, 3-2-1, that's what we're going for. Every year we've taken it up a notch. This year we've gone up an extreme notch to hopefully achieve that first place position,” he said.

To bolster his chances, Vaz secured a new Subaru rally car and the services of veteran co-drover Michael Fennell Jr.

“He actually used to rally with my dad. Sitting beside a legend is quite a feeling. It's been awesome to gather knowledge and experience from him for things we were basically grasping for before,” said Vaz.

Vaz's confidence with Fennell is reflected in their game plan, which is going flat out from Stage One.

So serious is Jackson wanting to return to the top of the Rally Jamaica podium that he returned from Trinidad earlier this year and pulled down his Subaru for a full rebuild to challenge for victory this weekend.

“We just did Rally Trinidad early this year and that's been it. Since then we pulled the car down and slowly, slowly, worked on bringing it back, mainly for Rally Jamaica,” said Jackson.

The top three will be joined by a further nine competitors on the stages for local rallying's top prize.

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