While working in Trinidad, I've joined the local Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club, acquired a rally car, and completed the first event. Although new to driving a RH drive rally car, and despite a some stalls and nearly getting stuck, I drove a Mitsubishi Evo III converted to FWD to a 3rd in SM4 class finish at Rally Tobago, July 14th, 2012. My team partner and co-driver Todd Schmidt did a fantastic job calling notes and keeping us on time. It was his first ever rally or competitive motorsports event. Our local service crew did a fantastic job getting the car reassembled, tested and prepared for the rally. Minor problems were quickly remedied, and we were always out of the Service Park with time to spare.
Rally Tobago consisted of 11 stages over a challenging and technical course near Black Rock on the island of Tobago. The morning stages were ideal conditions, and cars were setting fast times. As the cars started the 5th stage, an intense rain storm pummeled the site blowing down the scoring canopy and drenching the many fans, marshals and crews. The remaining stages were incredibly slick, and it was an immense challenge to keep the car on the road. Despite the adverse conditions and horrible visibility, we persevered and managed to even climb up the leader board for a strong finish.
Rallying in the Caribbean is very represented, and competition is fierce. Most teams are well sponsored and there is a strong fan following. Local TV coverage is ever present, and I provided several interviews about our first all American Rally Team in the country. Currently there are 6 events held each year, with Rally Tobago being the 3rd event and the only rally held not on the island of Trinidad. Over the next three months, there is one rally each month held down South on fast flowing gravel roads through hills and cane fields near San Fernando. Todd and I look to build on our podium finish and push hard to capture a class win and a strong overall finish.
After the 2012 TTRC season is finished in October, I plan to enter Perryville and Paris Rallies in the fall, SnoDrift, and 100AW in the winter, then start the 2013 TTRC season at the 3 day long Rally Trinidad event in late March.
For more information and photos, follow these links:
"Team USA" Photos:
http://s913.photobucket.com/albums/ac336/essell51/Rallies/Rally Tobago 2012/
Home Page: http://www.rallytrinidad.com/home/
Video of top competitors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tapAHW6pDE
Kelly Village TV interviews and Media Launch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et_Hpgndmro
TriniTuner TTRC Tobago Rally Thread: http://www.trinituner.com/v3/forums/...?f=29&t=445826
There should be many more photos and videos posted in a few days, including video from a roof top camera by KVTV on SS11.
Special thanks to our sponsor Esau Oilfield Supplies, TTRC, the local Trailblazers club, event Marshals, and the Tobago officials, Police, and fans who helped make possible this fantastic rally experience.