The whole thing sounds so improbable that somebody ought to make a film about it. Come to think of it, they already have.
John Powell has likened his FIA World Rally Championship debut in Spain this week to the exploits of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, whose participation in the 1988 Winter Olympics was immortalised in the film Cool Runnings.
Powell, who was born in Jamaica but now lives in Trinidad and Tobago, will become the first Caribbean driver to pilot a new-generation World Rally Car when he tackles the 2012 WRC season-closer in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for M-Sport.
“I feel like the Jamaican bobsleigh team from the Olympics,” Powell told WRC.com. “You only see WRC on TV or on YouTube so to be with these guys as the first driver from the Caribbean in a factory car is unbelievable. I am definitely out of my water but if I can get to the end, hopefully Malcolm [Wilson] will give me another opportunity next year.”
Powell combines running a business with a successful career in local and regional rallies in the Caribbean and Central America. He admits he’s facing a “baptism of fire” on the Salou-based event.
“It’s a dream come true to be here,” said Powell. “But my feet haven’t touched the ground since I’ve got here but my ass, if you excuse me, certainly has because I’ve never spent so long doing my pace notes. I’ve never done stages this long before, I’m used to 6.5 kilometres not 44 kilometres.
“I’ve driven the car for about 20 minutes on the airfield in Cumbria and I also went with Matthew [Wilson] for a bit. He’s a very good driver and a very good guy but that’s been it. I know my pace is nowhere near this level so I start conservative and get into the stages. It’s going to be a baptism of fire.”
"But my feet haven’t touched the ground since I’ve got here"