skeete_portrait After 33 years of working in a job most persons are looking towards the green pastures and relaxation of retirement. In this day, at 33 years old some sports men are looking to retire. After 33 years in a sport, it won't be expected that one would still be on the sharp end, or have that competitive edge; none of this applies to Roger Skeete. At 57 years old, Roger 'The Sheriff' Skeete is seeking to chalk yet another victory in the premiere rally of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC). skeete_jump If he accomplishes his goal, it would be a hat-trick of hat-trick victories having won the rally consecutively from 1990-92 and 2000-02 and the last two years (2010-11) of Sol Rally Barbados. So notorious are his exploits that across the length and breadth of Barbados, if you were to mention the name Roger Skeete, chances are the person would know exactly who you are talking about even if they don't follow motorsports.

 

As the son of Michael Skeete a former Managing Director of Fort Royal Garage, it was difficult for Roger to not develop a love for cars, breaking them and then fixing them. Although the 'old man' was more into car restoration and not racing, he had Roger driving from 9 years old. From there it was the cane fields where anything which could be driven, was driven. Further on, he, along with Jimmy Archer (British Army), Doug Armstrong, Geoffrey Goddard and others would meet quite often to do treasure hunts and some navigational rallies with Doug and Geoffrey forming the Woodbourne Works Team and himself and Jimmy being the Anthill Mob.

His first car was a $400 Vauxhall Victor Station Wagon which was quite roomy but didn't work particularly well, even though it was fun in the cane fields. He endured a number of second hand cars before imploring dad to import a Mitsubishi Lancer GSR. This car was put into competition immediately with no consideration for the car at a dexterity test in Walkers. This GSR and the two others that followed gave him recognition as being a competent driver, but the weight of the car would not allow him the edge over the faster cars ran by Freddie Mapp and Michael Corbin. Then came the ever popular Peugeot 205 GTi through an agreement with Quality Motors. This car he says was 'more balanced, nimble and lighter' and put him on a more level playing field. It was the ensuing partnership with DaCosta's Michelin, Pirelli and most importantly, Texaco that saw the birth of 'The Sheriff' a moniker coined by the late John 'Tiny' Harrison due to large star emblem on the Peugeot's bonnet. From there he was truly running the town, winning more than he lost and enduring plenty tough battles with icons such as Mapp, Michael Gill, Allan Wilkie and the late Richard Roett. The status he held then he still maintains as he heads into the 2012 edition of Sol Rally Barbados.

skeete_sideways_easyhallLooking to the event, Skeete remarked that his approach to the event will be no different to that of years past, which is to be driven by the circumstances that prevail at the time. The key he says is proper preparation, leaving no stone unturned and to be fast from Special Stage 1. He cautioned that although the start must be on pace there should always be consideration for the fact that one must be there at the finish on day 2, so a completely berserk pace won't do. Skeete noted that there is likelihood that the weather will be a game changer, especially on the stages which have drastic changes in grip level in the wet. If the level of grip was consistent across the stage it won't matter, but the variations across the surface cannot be ignored.

The competition he says is quite competent and is largely the same as the last few years, who make it no walk in the park. At present Skeete has tipped Paul Bourne to be the quickest of the lot, with Paul Bird being the biggest international threat. Sean Gill is the dark horse in his eye given that he is the newest to the 4WD league but cautioned that his level of competency as a driver is not something to be ignored. The same he says applies to Jeffrey Panton who is highly skilled and running in a very competitive car whilst the other JP, John Powell will also be a factor once he keeps it tidy in the S14.

skeete_sol_livery_backLooking to the future, Roger has not put any expiry date to his competing in racing; in fact not even in 2004 after a massive crash did he consider quitting while in the QEH. Roger's goal is to win as many rallies as long as he is able to because he's not in it to lose. The thrill of driving is too much of a stress reliever for him as he pilots across the open country roads. He also feels comfortable to know that the sport has a future of bright talent in the wings having seen the emergence of stars such as Neil Armstrong and the strides that those like Neil Corbin and Jamal Brathwaite have made in their development. Of course, The Sheriff's Deputy (Dane Skeete) is climbing the ladder too and Roger says he is more than capable of taking over once he has put his educational pursuits out of the way.

Good luck to the Sheriff in Sol Rally Barbados 2012.