PROCTER AT TEN-TENTHS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS: Local Champions in line for 25th Anniversary event
Britain’s Kevin Procter will mark his 10th appearance in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event in five months’ time, when he lines up for Sol Rally Barbados 2015 at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC S7. His entry is confirmed just days after he won last Sunday’s (December 28) Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally in the North of England for the sixth time in seven years.
Sol RB15 will run on Saturday and Sunday, May 30/31, with Scrutineering and the King of the Hill shakedown event the previous weekend, May 23/24. Nearly 60 entries have already been received for the 25th Anniversary running of the event via the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, where the on-line entry list is now ‘live’.
Hugely popular with fans on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for his flamboyant and attacking driving style, Procter did not start the day well on Sunday: a hard overnight frost had covered most of the Croft Circuit, a few miles from his home in North Yorkshire, in black ice, a disadvantage for last year’s winner, running first on the road.
With fellow rallycross ace Dave Bellerby in the co-driver’s seat, Procter was equal fourth on the first 6.4-mile test (with the Citroen Saxo of Martin Peters!) and one of only two of the top 10 seeded drivers in the first 30 runners. Fastest was Mike Herrington in a Ford Escort – seeded number 82, he took advantage of the rapidly thawing conditions – ahead of David White (Impreza) and the Peugeot 106 of Liam Walling.
Fastest on SS2, White took the lead, with former Le Mans 24 Hours race-winner Guy Smith (MG Metro 6R4) now second and Procter third, despite losing a further 20secs with a spin and stall shortly after the start. He gained control on the next stage, however, going into the lunchtime turn-around 26secs ahead of White, with Smith’s father Peter now third in another 6R4, his son having retired with a broken gearbox.
In front of a record crowd, Procter continued where he’d left off after lunch, with three more fastest times – he was beaten by Chris Wise/Tracey Taylor West in the ex-Roger Mayers 6R4 on SS6, by just 1sec – to end the day with a winning margin of 1min 41 secs after eight stages and 44.4miles. White was second and Peter Smith third.
For his return to Barbados, Procter’s co-driver will be Philip Hopkins, who co-drove in the island for the first time last year, when Procter finished seventh overall for the second consecutive year, also his sixth top 10 finish: his best is fourth in 2009, the second visit with the Impreza, added to fifth (RB07, Hyundai Accent WRC), ninth and highest-placed European crew (RB05, Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4), fifth and highest-placed overseas crew (RB04, Ford Escort Cosworth).
Since the WRC-2 class, catering for World Cars built before the end of 2003, was introduced in 2013, Procter has finished third to Britain’s Roger Duckworth (Impreza WRC S6) and local Toyota dealer Roger Hill (Corolla WRC) two years ago, then second to Duckworth last year.
Local Champions in line for 25th Anniversary event
Current and former Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Champions are among the early local entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2015, this year’s 25th Anniversary running of the Club’s premier event. In addition to the BRC’s Champion Driver for 2014, Rhett Watson (BMW M3) and fellow ROC Caribbean winner Dane Skeete, whose participation was confirmed last month, the growing list includes front-runners from a number of the Club’s 13 classifications.
In SuperModified 12, Watson’s opposition will include the BMW M3 of David St Hill, while there are currently no further local entries in SM11, where Skeete campaigns his Peugeot 306 Maxi. Multiple circuit-racing Champion Mark Thompson is the first local four-wheel-drive entry, in his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
Former BRC Champion Driver Neil Corbin – he won the Overall title in 2012 – is listed in Modified 6 in the Toyota Starlet in which he won the Class Championship in 2012 & ’13; the opposition will include Paul Inniss in his Honda Civic.
The M6 Champion for the previous two years, Jamal Brathwaite, appears for the third year in his M7 Honda Civic Type-R, while reigning Clubman Champion Eric Allamby (Toyota Corolla) remains in Clubman, where he will face Brathwaite’s father Trevor Mapp, among others, in the Mitsubishi Colt Mivec RS, which his son used to campaign.
Sol Rally Barbados and the King of the Hill shakedown event are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which was founded in 1957; Sol RB15 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and the eighth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.