Auto

Panton second in Martinique rally

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Friday, July 28, 2017

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IT was a creditable performance for the Jamaican rally pair of Jeffery Panton and Michael Fennell Jr at their first attempt at the Martinique Rallye Tour on the French-Caribbean isle last weekend. The event was won by former French Rally champion Simon Jean-Joseph.

“It was a great rally, amazing stages and format,” Panton told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

The Jamaican pair admitted their second place was due to their unfamiliarity with the event, as it was their first time competing in Martinique.

“We knew it would have been difficult to beat Simon Jean-Joseph there, given its his home. It was our first time there and Simon was driving a seven-year newer World Rally car than ours, not to mention his talent,” said Panton.

Co-driver Fennell Jr echoed similar sentiments.

“We couldn't expect victory the first time out. Even manufacturers send teams ahead for up to three years to certain events to gain the knowledge and experience to win, so we plan to return in 2018 and give it another shot with what we've learned,” he said.

While the event was all-tarmac like Barbados, co-driver Fennell Jr indicated there were several major differences, starting with the way Martinique Rallye Tour is run.

“It's done to FIA rules, so that meant only 30-minute service after every two stages, and a parc ferme each night where the car was left and couldn't be touched,” he explained.

It may have been just a two-horse race from the start, but the Jamaican team had their progress hindered by bad set-up and tyre choice. From there they had to fight their way to keep things close with Jean-Joseph.

“There were several night stages. The stages were, on average, longer than those in Barbados, had excellent tarmac surfaces and twistier, requiring more pace notes,” Fennell Jr added.

In all, the pair said they had a wonderful experience and are looking forward to the 2018 trek.

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