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Gregg wins thrilling Rally2 Championship opener

Two blistering sub-three-minute runs through the final stages of Sunday’s (March 24) opening round of the 2024 Barbados Rally2 Championship sponsored by CIBC Caribbean sealed a first category win for Jamaica’s Kyle Gregg. In a thrilling start to the season, margins were measured in tenths and hundredths, Gregg beating early leader Rob Swann from the UK by just one second.

  Ten cars lined up in the R5 class for the Motoring Club Barbados Inc’s (MCBI) Spring Blaze Double-Header Sprint, the first time the entry had hit double figures for the opening event since the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) first national motor sport championship was launched in 2022. There were four runs over a high-speed 7.5-kilometre course from Society to Kendal Woods in St John, then three in the reverse direction after some earlier delays caused the cancellation of the final run.
  Competing in his ex-Stuart Maloney Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo for the first time, the car running plain white ahead of finalising sponsorship for the season, Swann laid down his marker on the first run. He was 2.35secs faster, but that would be the biggest margin of the day, as Gregg slowly blew off the cobwebs, competing for the first time in five months, his Ford Fiesta Rally2 sporting the livery of new sponsor York Investment.
  Josh Read (Fiesta R5) was third on the opening run, the Turks & Caicos Rally Team’s Paul Horton fourth after a winter refresh including a steering upgrade for his Citroen C3 Rally2 and Roger Hill (Fabia R5) sixth. Andrew Mallalieu was seventh, competing for the first time since his Fiesta R5’s recent conversion back to left-hand-drive, with the Fabia Rally2 evos of Mark Maloney, who won last year’s final round, and newcomer Logan Watson, seventh and eighth; although not everyone carried co-drivers for the Sprint format event, Watson had the experienced Barry Ward alongside to help keep him on the straight and narrow.
  Ninth was America’s George Sherman, although he was to retire after only one more run with clutch failure in his Fiesta Rally2 which had just arrived in the island, with Horton’s TCI compatriot Stan Hartling rounding out the 10-strong entry in his Fiesta R5.
  Swann was fastest on the second run, Gregg this time just eight-tenths adrift and Read again within 3secs of Swann, while Hill moved ahead of Horton to fourth. Gregg beat Swann by 0.5sec on the third run, with Read still the best of the rest, but the final run before the lunch halt was the closest: Swann beat Gregg by one-hundredth of a second, with Read and Hill again third and fourth, while Maloney moved up to fifth, having bettered his first run time by more than 12secs, with Mallalieu now sixth after Horton hit a kerb and retired.
  After some minor suspension changes at lunch, Swann made a slight error on the first of the reverse direction runs, losing eight-tenths to Gregg, and they both finished behind Read, who claimed his only stage win of the day. The leading positions remained the same, although Watson was getting into his stride, growing braver and braking later – it was his first competition in a four-wheel-drive car – so overhauled Mallalieu for sixth on the first reverse run and remained there until the finish.
  On the penultimate run, Gregg clocked 2:59.17, beating Swann by 1.2secs and easing into the lead by six-tenths, so it all came down to the final stage: Swann improved by eight-tenths (3:00.59), but an impressively consistent Gregg bettered his previous run by 1/100th to win the day. Read finished third, just over 8secs adrift.
  A delighted Gregg said: “It was a good event, nice to capture my first win. I started off slow as I haven’t driven the car since last year. I enjoyed the battle with Rob, as it came down to the last stage which was exciting.”
  Swann said: “It was a great event and such good competition, lots of fun and no damage to the car so a fantastic start. The stage was so fast and great fun to drive in both directions, although it was shame not to get the last run as it could have produced a different outcome!”

Barbados Rally2 Championship
Round 1 – Spring Blaze (Motoring Club Barbados) Inc
St John – March 24
1st Kyle Gregg – JAM (Ford Fiesta Rally2), + 21m 09.22s
2nd Rob Swann – ENG (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), + 00.01s
3rd Josh Read (Ford Fiesta R5), + 08.24s
4th Roger Hill (Skoda Fabia R5), + 28.25s
5th * Mark Maloney (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), + 38.07s
6th Logan Watson (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), + 48.58s
7th Andrew Mallalieu (Ford Fiesta R5), + 1:01.40
8th * Stan Hartling - CAN (Ford Fiesta R5), + 2:11.63
DNF Paul Horton – TCI (Citroen C3 Rally2)
DNF George Sherman - USA (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
* driver not registered for points

Championship points after round 1
1st Gregg – JAM, 20 points; 2nd Swann – ENG, 17pts; 3rd Read, 15pts; 4th Hill, 13pts; 5th Watson, 11pts; 6th Mallalieu, 9pts

Remaining rounds: Rd 2, Apr 28 - Shakedown Stages (BRC); Rd 3, May 26 – King of the Hill (BRC); Rds 4 & 5, May 31–Jun 2 – Rally Barbados 2024 (BRC); Rd 6, Sep 14 – Rally of the Sun & Stars (MCBI); Rd 7, Nov 17 – Winter Rally (BRC); Rds 8 & 9, Nov 30/Dec 1 – Special Stage Rally (VRMSC)
Key to organisers: BRC – Barbados Rally Club; MCBI – Motoring Club Barbados Inc; VRMSC – Vaucluse Raceway Motorsports Club
For media information only. No regulatory value.

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