Could The Rally Jamaica Trophy have been sitting on a local mantel piece?
Throughout the last 19 years Rally Jamaica has not just seen drivers from within the island ,but also many regional and international drivers some also from the World Rally Circuit. However, the highly coveted trophy has never left the shores of Jamaica Could 2011, Rally Jamaica’s 20th Anniversary, be the year that the trophy departed for Northern Ireland?
To be more precise maiden city motor club member Joe Gallagher was asked to co- drive Auto electrician Glen Campbell from Antrim in this quest. Gallagher and Campbell had a ball in the process of searching for crystal the three day long gruelling event took place on 2 3 4 December and spanned the length and breadth of Jamaica.
Gallagher’s 2011 Ulster Rally 2nd in group N and 3rd in The Harvest Rally in Donegal wetted his appetite for more crystal and Campbell’s class victory in the Barbados rally had him equally as hungry for crystal.
Rally Jamaica was a gravel event consisting of 3 days of rallying, 2 of which are very intense.
Starting Friday night in the heart of Kingston. Drivers are given a chance to show their cars and mingle with their much loved fans before they are exposed to the rigors of the next two days.
Saturday stages took the drivers out to Moneague. To traverse stages such as the Bauxite Mines in Lydford. If not truly prepared drivers stood little chance of even making it through the day and after making it through that. They still have to remember that there is still Sunday to come.
Gallagher and Campbell were in the lowest powered car in the event an ex works Nissan Micra but after two days of making their own notes and many arguments later sometimes settled with Frank Kelly interrupting and giving his pennies worth. The two guys took up the challenge and before the lunch halt the Irish pair were just outside the top ten getting talked about by the local drivers and leading their class this is where they were to go into the overnight position 12 and they had developed a fuel problem along the way, Yet again Kelly to the rescue aided by some locals they worked into the wee hours of Sunday morning to only find out it was the fuel , as The WRC Anglia of the Scottish driver Alan MCCay suffered similar problems. MCCAY was co driven by Mo Downey from Co Down. Both team mechanic’s compared notes and came to the same conclusion that fuel was the problem.
This sorted and having made it through Saturday Battle commenced on Sunday at 7.am and the Irish team were now running 12th on the Road as opposed to 25th on Saturday .
On Sunday now they had the Orange groves of the Tru Juice Plantation. So this means look out for an out of place orange tree if not it could all be over before you even know it. But even after that there is still the highly anticipated finish. Which was kept under lock and key till the official press launch, That Stage was Benard Lodge which had notes of flat 10000 3 right 6000 2 right ultimate flat as far as you can see. After Benard Lodge spectators flock by the thousands to see those drivers who have made it to the finish let their hair down and put on a show in down town Kingston. This is where Campbell and Gallagher were scuppered out of the top ten place as stage 17 was scrapped due to a timing issue by time keepers, and the car they took 12 minutes out of went 45 minutes OTL as with Jamaican motor club rules they’re started in 10th place on 18th stage. In Sunday evening being amongst the finishers was great. Kingston had the carnival atmosphere that you have to be in Jamaica to experience. Whatever about the results we finished and in the prizes it clearly was a finishers Rally.
We did not know what we are letting ourselves in for the heat was in the 30’s the surface as like nothing we have drove on in Ireland and as for the competition we knew very little about them. We gave t our best shot. The team depart on 26th November from Gatwick and arrive in Kingston on the 27th with a day to prepare the car before three days of recceing, then it was down to work. No time for sightseeing - well maybe a little high speed sight-seeing.
We made some great friends that we will certainly keep in contact with and we should thank all those that keep un on the road Mickey MC Glynn, Dee and Mervyn Hagan, the legend that is Frank Kelly and his lovely wife Rosemary how she put up with 6 men talking rallying for 10 days is beyond me.