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Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete will be in “maximum attack” mode when he leads the home team out for Sol Rally Barbados 2014, targetting his 13th victory in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event. He will again be partnered by co-driver Louis Venezia in the Sol/Simpson Motors/Michelin Subaru Impreza WRC S12, the combination which won in 2010 and 2011.

  Skeete’s entry, posted yesterday (Thursday) on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, brings the current total to 70, three months ahead of the closing date. More than half the crews registered are from overseas, with nearly 20 drivers or co-drivers planning to contest the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international for the first time.

  The BRC is celebrating the 25th running of its premier event this year - Sol RB14 is scheduled for May 31/June 1, with Scrutineering and Scotiabank King of the Hill the previous weekend (May 24/25). Skeete’s 12 victories include hat-tricks in the event’s first three years, 1990, ’91 & ’92, then a decade later in 2000, ’01 & ’02 . . . and he is one of only two drivers (along with Roger Hill) to have contested all 24 previous events.

  Former UK National Rally Champion Paul Bird has won for the past two years in his Ford Focus WRC08; as well as being the most successful overseas competitor in the event’s history, he is also the first driver to have finished on the podium six years in a row, and would become only the second to claim a hat-trick if he were to win Sol RB14.

  After posting his entry, ‘The Sheriff’ said: “We shall be making a special effort to deliver the very best showing on RB14, after last year’s dismal effort with no fewer than six start-line stalls between day one and two – that is behind us, and we now know how to prevent this.

  “We need to return to the maximum attack mode from stage 1 and see who can sustain the pace . . . and stay on the road! Therefore, there will be more focus on quicker stage times, as opposed to just staying with the leaders.”

  Double-winner Bird and co-driver Aled Davies are already confirmed for this year, as is Jamaica’s Jeff Panton, who won in Barbados in 1998, the first regional driver to do so, having finished second twice in the previous four years; for Sol RB14, with regular co-driver Mike Fennell Jnr, he will campaign the Focus WRC06 in which they finished second last year and third behind Bird and Paul Bourne (Focus WRC07) in 2012.

  With Britain’s Rob Swann stepping up to the WRC-1 class in his recently-acquired Impreza WRC S11, the battle for overall supremacy promises to be hot . . . but Skeete is not fazed by the opposition: “I'm certain RB14 will be approached by everyone in the same way as a Sunday morning speed event - that is to put both car and crew into qualifying mode and be on the limit on every stage from the very start. However, the key will be not to have any problems with car and, thereafter, to drive it in order to be the Sol Rally Barbados number one.”

  Skeete’s Impreza finished second twice on World Rally Championship (WRC) events in the hands of former works driver Petter Solberg – in Argentina and Mexico in 2006 – with a fourth place in Norway achieved the following year. Shortly after that it was sold to an Irish competitor, from whom Skeete acquired it just before Sol RB09.

 

Swann unveils new livery in first outing of 2014

 

Sol Rally Barbados regular Rob Swann turned out for last weekend’s (January 25/26) Brean Stages with his Subaru Impreza WRC S11 sporting a new red and gold livery for the New Year. A tight and twisty single-venue rally, which was affected by the heavy rains in the British county of Somerset, it was Swann’s second tarmac outing in the car in which Petter Solberg finished third on the Tour de Corse on his way to the runner-up spot in the 2005 WRC.

  From Swann’s perspective, each rally provides valuable seat time, and he was also reunited with co-driver Darren Garrod, who will be returning to Barbados with him this year. Swann reports: “The event started OK, steady on the first stage and four seconds off Peter Lloyd (the eventual winner), then upped the pace to match him on the second. The conditions made tyre choice crucial, and we did make a couple of bad decisions on that front.

  “We were only 15secs down overnight, though, but it rained heavily on Sunday and we made a bad tyre choice, spun twice . . . and then broke a front shaft, I don't know why! Having dropped back to seventh, we eventually finished fifth . . . overall, I was pleased with myself. These events are all about mileage in the car and we’re now looking forward to the MSA Asphalt Championship round on the Epynt Ranges in early March – that is a high speed event, so completely different to Brean – and it leaves time for a engine rebuild before shipping to Barbados.”

 

Sol Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 55th Anniversary in 2012; Sol RB14 is the 25th running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the seventh year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

 

For media information only. No regulatory value.

 

For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com web sites: www.rallybarbados.net; www.barbadosrallyclub.com

 

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