photo by Kevin Money, Stuart Maloney and Kris Yearwood finished in the MAXUS Dukeries Rally in the UK on Sunday in this Skoda Fabia R5

 Panton full of praise for “exceptional drive” by Maloney

Recently-crowned Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Champion Driver Stuart Maloney finished seventh in the MAXUS Dukeries Rally in the UK yesterday (Sunday), the most successful of three Caribbean drivers who travelled north to compete on a day when typically British rain showers made for changeable and tricky conditions. Six-time winner of the island’s premier event, Jamaica’s Jeff Panton finished 11th and Suleman Esuf 31st in his first-ever rally overseas.
  The third round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR was staged at Donington Park in the East Midlands, which hosted a memorable Grand Prix of Europe won by Ayrton Senna in 1993. It was organised by the Mansfield-based Dukeries Motor Club, of which former Sol Rally Barbados class-winner Paul Rees is Chairman. There were six intricate stages, each of around nine miles, using reversed direction stretches of the circuit, plus tarmac and gravel service roads inside and out; the final stage ran in the dark of early evening when the rain fell heaviest.
  Driving a Skoda Fabia R5 with Kristian Yearwood as co-driver, Maloney set top 10 stage times all day; he was fifth twice, including on the day’s final stage, despite telling an interviewer during the on-line live stream that he “wasn’t looking forward to it.” Maloney added that Melvyn Evans Motorsport had provided “an awesome car and he was having a great time.” Even the British weather didn’t phase him: “Actually, it’s nice to drive in, you don’t sweat as much as back home, so it’s a little more comfortable.”
  Panton had a rather more eventful day with regular co-driver Mike Fennell Jnr in a Dom Buckley Motorsport-run Ford Fiesta Rally2; 26th after an ‘off’ on SS1, they steadily worked their way up the order, top 10 times over the final three stages bringing them up to 11th at the finish. Panton explained: “Unfortunately, we had a disastrous rally due to my mistake once again. I was just pushing too hard at the very beginning, trying to put down an initial time and the road was quite slippery. The first corner of the first stage was a square right, which we came to in fifth and I just waited too long to brake and the car locked up. I came off the pedal to try and have compression help slow me and then realised the engine had stalled. At that point it was just back on the brakes and a lot of expletives. We hit a tyre stack quite hard and I am surprised we were able to continue but we completed the stage and the boys at Dom Buckley Motorsport did an amazing job sorting out the car for SS2. Afterwards, we progressively got quicker but did have a few issues with catching and being held up by other competitors and a spin on SS3.”
  Esuf and co-driver Asif Suleman tackled the event in a modern-spec 2.5-litre sequential gearbox Ford Escort MkII from Aberystwyth Motorsport; despite a time-consuming spin and 90 seconds of penalties, they finished fourth in class D. Esuf said: “We had a fantastic weekend. It was a great experience rallying abroad in a MkII Escort, which was always one of my dream cars as a kid. The conditions were challenging but was still a nice experience. A few mistakes caused us to pick up some penalties which made us lose out on the chance of a podium finish in our group.”
  After the event, Panton was full of praise for Maloney and Yearwood: “I must make mention of an exceptional drive and performance from Stuart and Kris, brilliant drive and a great result! We couldn't match their times at all, even when we had trouble free runs. Barbados will be interesting for sure! It was a very enjoyable event, especially the gravel bit, I truly enjoyed that piece! Obviously not proper rally stages, but a great event nonetheless and it was good seeing all the familiar faces again in one place!”
  Among those familiar faces was winning co-driver Jack Morton, who had finished third in Sol RB18 with Paul Bird, this time sitting alongside ‘Birdy’s son Frank in another Buckley-run Fiesta Rally2. They finished an impressive 1 min 37 secs ahead of Neil Roskell’s similar Fiesta, with co-driver Andrew Roughead, who contributed to Kevin Procter’s best results in the island, when they finished fourth in 2017 and ’18. Third were Barry Morris and Tom Hutchings in their Darrian T90 GTR+. Of 100 starters, 85 finished.
  Sol Rally Barbados regulars Rob Swann and Darren Garrod, the co-driver fresh from winning the British Rally Championship alongside fellow Welshman Matt Edwards, finished eighth in Swann’s recently-acquired Fiesta Rally2. Andy Scott and Marc Fowler finished 36th in their Ford Fiesta S2000T, after setting top 10 times on stages two to six, recovering from a puncture three corners into the opening stage, which had required a wheel change and left them 90th.

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