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Panton conquers B'dos, again

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 08, 2018

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The J amaican rally pair of Jeffrey Panton and Michael Fennell Jr had their fourth consecutive win in the Sol Rally Barbados, which took place in that Caribbean country last weekend.

“Winning the three-peat was very special and never in our wildest dreams would we think we'd do it a fourth time around, consecutively. But the effort by the entire team to make it a reality was nothing short of sheer determination and preparation. We all put everything into it and it has certainly paid off,” Panton told the Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine.

Panton — who drove a Ford Focus WRC — is managing director of KIG, authorised dealers for Ford, Subaru and Yamaha motorcycles.

Fennell Jr echoed similar sentiments about the win.

“We came with the thought of defending our title and hope to do so again in 2019,” he said.

The win also marks Panton's fifth Rally Barbados victory in total as he was the first regional winner of the event in 1998, driving a Toyota Celica GT4. Since 2015, his Ford Focus WRC has been on the top step. Over the four years, Panton has had some serious battles to the finish. However, this year's challenger, Briton Paul Bird succumbed to a flat tyre leaving the Jamaican team to a trouble-free finish.

“Bird had a flat and lost a minute. It was at that time we felt we could lower the pace a bit,” Fennell Jr explained.

At the end of the day, Bird recovered to take third spot while another British driver, Rob Swann, was second.

Panton praised his team for his consistent appearances on Rally Barbados' top podium step.

“Hard work and preparation was the key to our success. We have been doing most of the small events in Barbados leading up to this rally to acclimatise ourselves, the car and the team. Quite a bit of preventative maintenance was performed on the car, as well, by our local Bajan team, Pro Auto Works, leading up to the event,” Panton said.

Panton will head to Rally Martinique in July, the stomping grounds of his friend and rival, ex-world championship rally driver Simon Jean-Joseph.

“We will be trying our hand at Rally Martinique in July and, hopefully, will be able to continue our winning streak,” he added.

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