The Because of Jenna Trust, dedicated to easing the suffering of severely brain-injured children in Barbados, will benefit from a donation of Bds $5000 after Stuart Maloney was confirmed as the winner of the inaugural R5 Rally Championship presented by First Citizens. The Trust was Maloney’s chosen charity when he registered for the island’s first-ever national motor sport championship, administered by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), which paid no prize money to the drivers, but elected to promote and support good causes in the island.
While Maloney has led the standings since round one in March in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, three back-to-back wins in the Motoring Club Barbados Inc (MCBI) Hammer Time Double-Header Sprint and Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Winter Rally on October 15th and 16th finally put him out of reach. The remaining top five positions are undecided, however, as Roger Hill and Josh Read fight over second place, while Mark Maloney and Britain’s Rob Swann are separated by just one point in the battle for fourth.
The curtain will come down on the new championship’s first season at Bushy Park on Saturday, November 19, when the final round will be one of the on-track competitions at ULTRAFEST, a new car festival, which the organisers intend to make an annual event. As well as the R5 finale, which will be run in a head-to-head knockout format similar to that of the Race Of Champions, there will be drag racing, a car show hosted by the Automotive Culture Alliance (ACA), a SIM racing experience, Kids Zone and prizes, including Hot Laps for ticket holders.
Ahead of last weekend’s events, rounds 12 to 14 of the R5 Championship, there were 90 points still on the table and five drivers with a mathematical chance of the title. With 208 points, Maloney was leading brother Mark (142pts – Fabia Rally2 evo), Hill (138pts – Fabia R5), Read (135pts – Ford Fiesta R5) and Swann (131pts – Fiesta Rally2). While it would take something extreme to topple the championship leader, nothing is certain in rallying, as Maloney could testify, having already had one healthy championship lead trimmed back to just 20 points when he retired on the second day of Sol Rally Barbados, the season’s highest-scoring event.
Three-time British Rally Champion Matt Edwards is no stranger to Barbados, having coached Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Rally Team since he acquired his Fiesta and more recently joined him as co-driver. And he was back behind the wheel of an R5, sharing with its owner, for Saturday’s MCBI event from Pickerings to Luke Hill and reverse. The Welshman dominated in both directions, but was a guest driver not scoring points, so two second-place finishes for Maloney was enough to clinch the title.
Behind these two, however, there were mixed fortunes for the chasing pack, with an on-form Hill climbing to second in the standings after finishing second on points in both directions of the MCBI’s sprint, then third in Sunday’s BRC rally. Read was on the move, too, having resolved the mechanical issues of the previous couple of events, finishing third on points on Saturday, but crucially second in Sunday’s higher-scoring rally. This, combined with Mark Maloney failing to score on Sunday after an off-road excursion dropped him out of the final results, enabled Read to climb to third in the standings, just three points behind Hill.
Maloney is now fourth and only one point ahead of Swann, who is the highest-placed of the five overseas drivers who are registered for the championship. Rounding out the top six, albeit too far adrift now to improve his year-end position is Horton, who enjoyed his best run of the season in Sunday’s event when he finished fifth, setting stage times that bettered those of Hill, Mark Maloney and Swann on a couple of occasions.
Further details of ULTRAFEST, including the timetable and precise format of the R5 Rally Championship finale, will be revealed in the coming weeks.