Four-Wheel Drive British Invasion

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Four-Wheel Drive British Invasion


Six out of six for Procter


An influx of four-wheel-drive cars from Britain promises to make Sol Rally Barbados 2008 on May 31/June 1 one of the most competitive in the 18-year history of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) premier event. With the provisional entry list scheduled for publication on Monday, May 12, the Club has already intimated that approaching one-third of the near-capacity entry will run in the top Groups.


Following confirmation mid-week that former National Champions Paul Bird (Subaru Impreza WRC) and Rally Barbados regular Steve Perez (Ford Focus WRC) are entered in the Modified 8-WRC group comes news that the Geest Line Freighter Timor Stream, which left Portsmouth on England's south coast 10 days ago for the Caribbean, will be carrying significantly more four-wheel-drive cars.


For his sixth visit to Rally Barbados, England's Kevin Procter will be bringing his sixth different car! Having been competitive in Ford Sapphire, Escort WRC and Puma in his early years, he looked set for his best result to date in 2006 when he was forced to retire his ex-Prodrive Subaru Impreza while lying fourth. Last year, driving a Hyundai Accent WRC, he battled with Perez to claim highest-placed European honours, but lost out, finishing fifth. He returns with a Procters Coaches-backed Impreza WRC S7, with Dave Bellerby - popular last year for his committed driving in the Sapphire - as co-driver.


Procter isn't the only British driver to find competing in Barbados infectious - Modified 8-A will include two others coming back for more. Scotland's Graeme Finlayson is a keen supporter of rallying in the island and returns with an ex-Ralliart Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3 RS, replacing his Group N car from last year. Once again, he will have local ace Martin Atwell as co-driver.


While Finlayson has competed every year since 2003, Tom Roberts has done so only twice, but returns with a quick Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI; the former BP Young Driver of the Year and University karting champion's co-driver is someone whose surname will be familiar to older fans of motor sport in the island: Jimmy Brodie, whose motor sport experience in the UK has been in circuit racing rather than rallying, is the son of Dave Brodie, one of the first British drivers to race at Bushy Park in the 1970s.


Group N has also attracted some key figures from British rallying, led by former Peugeot Junior and Ford Puma champion, then Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Cup winner in 2005, Ryan Champion. Another returning competitor - he drove an Evo III in the inaugural Barbados Rally Carnival in 2001 - the 2006 British Rally Championship runner-up will this year campaign an Evo VIII, backed by Barbados brands Monster Energy, Sol and Axis Caribbean, plus the family specialist cars business Champions. His co-driver will be the experienced Craig Thorley - he was fifth and highest-placed overseas competitor here with Chris Mellors in 2001 - who should feel entirely comfortable in the seat, as he was co-driver for Alister Ginley, for whom this Evo was originally built.


Champion's Evo is prepared by MSR Motorsport, which will also be responsible for running David Hughes and Bruce Harper in the VI; class-winner in the Scottish Rally Championship in 2007 and winner of the Pirelli National Rally in 2006 and '07, this will be the Dumfries-based driver's first experience of competition in Barbados, but he is sure to add interest to the Group.


Finally, there is Rob Swann, who has finished in the top five in the British Rally Championship for three of the past five years; Darren Garrod will co-drive in the Prodrive-built and Geoff Jones Motorsport-prepared Subari Impreza N11, supported for the Barbados trip by local businesses Escape Hotels, Blue Monkey, West Coast Villas anda CGI Insurance. They will have little time to acclimatise themselves to Caribbean rallying, as they will miss the Shell V-Power King of the Hill the previous weekend because they will be competing in the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland in the team's Impreza N14; even so, that may benefit them, as it is one of the most demanding closed-road tarmac rallies in Britain.


Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are elements of the eighth Barbados Rally Carnival. Each day of Sol Rally Barbados, organised by the Barbados Rally Club, is a separate qualifying round of the BRC Rally Championship. The title sponsor is Sol and associate sponsors and marketing partners are McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors, Automotive Art, Banks Holdings, DaCosta Mannings Auto Centre, Digicel, Nassco, Consolidated Finance, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Crane & Equipments, Little Switzerland, Armag, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association and the Barbados Tourism Authority.


Programme of key events


Friday, May 23 - 4.00pm to approx 8.00pm

Scrutineering at Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, Wildey, St Michael

Saturday, May 24 - 11.30am to approx 6.00pm

Shell V-Power King of the Hill, Turner's Hall, St Andrew

Monday to Friday, May 26 to May 30 - 4.00 to 6.00pm each day

Meet the Drivers at Shell Warrens, St Michael (Mon-Weds) and Shell Banyans (Thurs-Fri)

Saturday, May 31 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 1

Start from Simpson Motors, Warrens, St Michael, at 9.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Sunday, June 1 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 2

Restart from Bushy Park, St Philip, at 7.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Shell V-Power SuperSpecial at Bushy Park

Monday, June 2 - approx 3.30pm - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 Prizegiving

The Boatyard, Bay Street, St Michael


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