For the Chefette Speed Team, the 2019 edition of Sol Rally Barbados can be viewed as an event of 'What ifs.' Following a Flow King of the Hill which was a monumental success, producing a 1-2-3 finish in overall 2WD and group SM2; the team went into the rally with confidence.
Things went quite well on the Friday night for team, save for a quick spin for Roger on the turn into Bushy Park. At the end of the night, the team held positions 1,2 and 3 in the overall 2WD with Barry 3 seconds ahead of Roger and Rhett 10 seconds behind the latter.
It all unravelled for the team on the Saturday stages with a string of retirements due to mechanical failures. First to go was Roger after SS4; a clip from his airbox went into the engine and caused engine failure ending the rally for him and navigator Sean Corbin. Roger said this disappointment took him through a range of emotions including the thought of quitting rallying.
Next to go was Barry, who had enjoyed running in the Top 5 overall for the majority of the day along with navigator Ben Norris. He was comfortably ahead of the overall 2WD category and in the midst of a battle with the FIA R5 cars when a broken cam belt on SS10 ended his rally prematurely.
Barry's departure meant that Rhett had inherited the 2WD lead after sitting 3rd for the entire event. This lead was however short-lived, because the following stage saw Rhett and navigator Bradley Weekes pull off mid-stage with a broken axle. Unable to exit the stage, they dropped out of the overall runnings and intended to do repairs at the overnight halt to be ready for Sunday's stages. An attempt to go for the Sunday Cup win never materialized as the car broke an axle again on the way to the start of Sunday's stages and the pair withdrew from the event ending a series of class and overall 2WD wins over the last few years for the Speed Team.
In the end, Stuart and Justin Maloney took fastest 2WD and Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew won their very first Sol Rally Barbados competing in the Subaru S12 WRC. Past event winners Jeffrey Panton and Michael Fennell Jnr. crashed heavily on the Sunday of the event which lead to Panton being hospitalized. The Chefette Speed Team wishes Jeffrey a speedy recovery.