PANTON PRAISES FENNELL AFTER FOURTH SOL RB WIN

Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton paid tribute to co-driver Michael Fennell Jnr after they claimed a fourth consecutive win in Sol Rally Barbados (June 1-3). After sharing a champagne podium celebration at Bushy Park with British crews Rob Swann and Darren Garrod, Paul Bird and Jack Morton, Panton said: “Mike really does all the ground work, I only drive, and his efforts play a big role in the success.”

Panton’s fifth victory on the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event comes two decades after he became the first regional winner, in a Toyota Celica GT4, in 1998. Since 2012, when he bought the Ford Focus WRC06 in which two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm won the 2007 Galway International, he has regularly rewritten the region’s record books, having also added a hat-trick of Flow King of the Hill victories this year.

As he did last year, Swann (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) equalled his best result of second, while 2012 & ’13 winner Bird (Focus WRC08), back after a two-year hiatus, further enhanced his strong record on the event, with his eighth top-three finish in nine visits. Completing only the fourth overseas clean sweep of the top four in the event’s 29-year history were England’s Kevin Procter and Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta).

For the first time in 10 years (Sean Gill/Michael Cummins, Suzuki Swift, 2008), the highest-placed local crew was also the top 2wd finisher, Barry Mayers and Ben Norris (Ford Fiesta) repeating their 2wd success of 2017, although two further places up the order. Sixth, with Graham Gittens co-driving, Roger Hill (Toyota Corolla WRC) is celebrating his 20th top 10 finish, equalling Roger Skeete’s record.

From small beginnings as the International All-Stage Rally in 1990, the BRC's premier event has grown into the Caribbean's biggest annual motor sport International and a keystone of the island's sports-tourism calendar; it contributes around Bds $4 million to the economy and accounts for more than 4,000 visitor nights each year. Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marked the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, while communications provider Flow sponsored KotH for the third time.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for confirmation of the dates for Flow King of the Hil 2019 and Sol Rally Barbados 2019, the 30th running of the BRC’s premier event.