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Panton-Fennel team declared provisional Rally Jamaica winners
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
The Jamaican team of Jeffrey Panton and co-driver Mike Fennel Jnr, were named provisional winners of Rally Jamaica 2008, at press time last night, following the three-day series which concluded in New Kingston yesterday evening.
In second place were Barbadians Roger Skeete and Robert Simmons, who finished ahead of Jamaica's Doug Gore and Mark Nelson.
Defending champions Gary Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson ended fourth, with another team of Barbadians - James Betts and Jeremy Gonsalves - completing the top five.
Reports are that Gregg and Hutchinson, who were leading up to yesterday morning, developed mechanical problems late yesterday afternoon and got stuck on one of the stages.
It happened while the clock was running and this affected their chances of winning.
It took rally offials several hours to declare Panton and Fennell provisional winners.
"We were locked in an emergency meeting discussing a number of issues and could not say anything until the meeting was over," said one of the Rally officials who spoke with The Gleaner on condition of anonymity last night.
Up to yesterday morning, Gregg restarted the Rally as the provisional leader, but officials were reluctant to explain what happened along the designated route, which caused Gregg to surrender the lead to Panton.
Although they dropped out of contention on day-two, the Mexican team of Ricardo Trivinio and Checo Salmon finished in third place on yesterday's New Kingston stage, which was won by Gregg and Hutchinson.
The final day of the event was transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere at the Tru-Juice Special stage in Bog Walk, St Catherine, with hundreds of die-hard motorsports fans responding to the entertainment provided by the organisers.
Apart from the sound system which injected life into crowd, the masses were also thrilled by the performances of the drivers, especially as they negotiated their way through the Wakefield Water Splash stage and the dusty and winding road on the Tru-Juice stage.