Skeete is Shell V-Power King of The Hill

 

Thousands turn out for final Sol Rally Barbados 2009 shakedown

Thousands of fans gathered at Stewarts Hill in St Philip on Sunday (May 24) to witness the 'Sheriff's promotion to 'King', as Roger Skeete powered to victory at Shell V-Power King of the Hill, the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) final shakedown before the Caribbean's biggest annual motor sport event, Sol Rally Barbados 2009, next weekend (May 29-31).  

Despite two heavy morning showers, the three-kilometre stage was lined with spectators from long before the scheduled 10.30am start, with the largest gathering on the hill overlooking the straight, alongside which Merville Lynch Productions was broadcasting live coverage on the Giant Daylight Screen.

Competing for the first time in his recently-acquired Michelin/Da Costa Mannings Auto Centre/Warrens Motors Subaru Impreza WRC S12, Skeete set the pace from the start, clocking a time of 1 minute 54.34 seconds on the practice run; his closest rival was last year's winner Paul Bourne, on 1:57.38 in the Banks/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Subaru Impreza WRC S9), while only two other drivers dipped below the two-minute mark - Roger Hill (Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC) and England's Kevin Procter (Procters Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7). Sol RB09 winner Kris Meeke (Digicel/Red Bull/ARMAG Subaru Impreza WRC S9) was having clutch problems and the 2:09.78 he recorded in practice would be his only time of the day.

In the first official timed run, Skeete went more than three seconds faster (1:51.24), as did Bourne (1:54.27) and Hill (1:55.78), with Steve Perez (Kick Energy Drink/VK Vodka Kick Ford Focus WRC05) now leading Procter as highest-placed visitor. The top 10 - now re-seeded in reverse order to run at the back of the field - was completed by Barry Gale (Autolink/VP Racing/Bella Beauty Supply/Pro Pac Dog Food Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), an impressive Cliff Roett (Carters & Co/Nassco/Lucky Horseshoe/Roett's Garage/Castrol Toyota Starlet) the highest-placed two-wheel-drive runner, ahead of Jonathan Still (Hitachi Power Tools/Ocean Spray/Philips Lighting/Crane & Equipments/Little Switzerland BMW M3) and Ian Warren (Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors/Automotive Art Suzuki Swift), with Neil Armstrong (Simpson Motors/Hankook/Shell V-Power/Gunk Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI) 10th.

In the second official run, Skeete found only an additional three-tenths (1:50.95) and, although Bourne reduced the margin significantly (1:52.84s), it would be enough for Skeete to win, as the third official run was cancelled part-way through on safety grounds, with oil dropped on a fast section of the stage after another brief shower. Hill also further improved (1:53.97), cutting the spread across the top three from five seconds after practice to just over three seconds by close of play.

Perez found another second and finished fourth, highest-placed international competitor, with Jamaica's Jeff Panton (Automotive Art/Bearings and Seals/Jamaica Freight and Shipping/Seaboard/Castrol/Active Traders/Automoto Ford Focus WRC) fifth, despite only doing one official timed run. Procter and Gale finished sixth and seventh, ahead of Trevor Manning (All Terrain Plus/Cellate Caribbean/Garbage Master/Bess Block Ford Escort WRC), who arrived in time for a hero's reception from the crowds on the second official run.

In that run, the fastest two-wheel-drive men switched order, Warren finishing ninth overall and claiming SuperModified 10 from Roett, who failed to finish and slipped to 10th; Still finished 12th, winning SM11 from Nick Gill (Mazda 3) and Welsh legend Phil Collins, whose bright red Ford Escort MkII was reaching some alarming angles. 

Martin Atwell (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III RS) improved by more than a second for 11th place, pipping Armstrong to Modified 8-A, while Ryan Champion (Subaru Impreza 555) finished class third, after suffering a puncture on the first official run. Production 4 produced an excellent mixed battle, victory going to Trinidad's John Powell (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) from British Rally Championship regular Rob Swann (Subaru Impreza N14), with local ace Geoff Noel (Evo IX) third, after setting the practice pace, but then missing the second timed run.

Eighty of the 88 drivers entered ran in an event which had no major incidents, although the afternoon rain caused some very entertaining moments for the crowd at the end of the long straight, drivers sliding off incuding Group B winner Andrew Costin-Hurley (Ford Puma), St Elmo Cumberbatch (BMW) and Daryl Clarke (Mitsubishi Mirage).

 

Sol Rally Barbados 2009 (May 29-31) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 24) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group. Marketing partners are Automotive Art, Banks, Digicel, McEnearney Quality, Red Bull and Simpson Motors; official partners are the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Authority, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Geest Line, Stoute's Car Rental and Virgin Atlantic; associate sponsors are ARMAG, Caribbean Airlines, Crane & Equipments, Merville Lynch Productions, Little Switzerland, Redline Fuels and Shelbury Construction.

 

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web site - www.rallybarbados.bb