PROCTER RETURNS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2016

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PROCTER RETURNS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2016

Britain’s Kevin Procter will make his 11th appearance in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event this year, when he lines up for Sol Rally Barbados 2016 at the wheel of his familiar Subaru Impreza WRC S7. Procter confirmed his entry yesterday (Thursday) during a brief family holiday in the island to see in the New Year.
 
Sol RB16 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 3 to 5, with Scrutineering and the King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event the previous weekend, May 30 and 31. Approaching 70 entries have so far been posted on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, more than two-thirds of them from overseas crews.
 
Procter had more to celebrate than just the New Year, as he flew to the island the day after winning the Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally (December 27) at Croft Circuit for the seventh time in eight years. The popular annual festive fixture attracted a crowd of thousands to the Yorkshire racetrack, despite severe weather conditions in the build-up.
 
With fellow rallycross ace Dave Bellerby in the co-driver’s seat, the Procter’s Luxury Coaches Impreza was immediately on the pace, gaining a two-second lead over Tony Bardy (Ford Focus WRC01) on SS1, with Sol RB08 Group N winner Ryan Champion and wife Jemma (Impreza 555) a further 6secs back in third.
 
Hugely popular with fans on both sides of the Atlantic for his flamboyant and attacking driving style, Procter increased his lead on SS2 to 21secs, now over Champion, as Bardy slipped to third. Barry Renwick (Proton Millington) was quickly finding his pace, however, up to second after SS3 & SS4, 36secs behind at lunch, with Bardy now third after Champion dropped 30secs when he dramatically sideswiped a chicane.
 
After the enthusiastic fans were treated to a demonstration by Malcolm Wilson in the ex-Hannu Mikkola Audi quattro, which Steve Perez drove on his Barbados debut in 2004, Procter held station, despite a big spin on SS6, which cost him 10secs, cutting his lead to just half-a-minute before the final two stages after sundown. With a huge effort on SS7, Procter added 21secs to his lead, while Bardy retired from third with failing oil pressure. Procter made no mistakes on the final run, winning by 57secs from Renwick, who claimed his best Christmas Stages result. 
 
Despite a 10secs penalty for corner cutting, Stephen Woodhouse (Ford Escort MkII) finished third, another 10secs back, with fellow Escort driver Paul Swift fourth. John Cope (Impreza WRC) was fifth, while Champion - fastest on the final stage - pipped Perez and son Seb for sixth place by just 1sec, the Perez Focus WRC04 now returned to the works livery in which Markko Martin and Michael Park won the Tour de Corse and Rallye Deutschland in 2004.
 
Procter’s co-driver for Sol RB16 is not yet confirmed; last year, with Philip Hopkins on the notes for the second time, Procter claimed his seventh top 10 result, finally winning WRC-2, catering for World Cars built before the end of 2003. He had finished third to Britain’s Roger Duckworth (Impreza WRC S6) and local Toyota dealer Roger Hill (Corolla WRC) in Sol RB13, then second to Duckworth the following year. With a best overall result of fourth (RB09, Impreza), he has also been highest-placed European driver (RB05, Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4) and highest-placed overseas driver (RB04, Ford Escort Cosworth).
 
 
Updated FAQ document posted to event web site
 
An updated version of the Sol Rally Barbados FAQ document has this week been posted to the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net. Available as a PDF download from the home page, it includes details of accommodation and vehicle rental for competitors, shipping and safe storage of their vehicles and an outline of the scheduled activities.
 
Sol RB16 will kick off on Friday night (June 3), with action targeted to start at 6.30pm. As last year, Saturday is scheduled to start at 10.00am – 11 stages are planned at three venues – with a 9.00am start on Sunday, when a further nine stages at three venues will bring the total stage distance to around 115 kilometres.
 
After some changes to the programme of social and administrative events last year to accommodate the event’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, the traditional order has been re-established. The Welcome Party will be combined with the now-traditional Fish Fry & Pig Roast on Tuesday, May 31, at Copacabana in Bay Street, Bridgetown, with the Briefing Meeting on Wednesday, June 1 in the Conference Centre at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, which is once again the event’s Hotel Partner and Rally HQ.
 
The document also covers other changes to local regulations, including the complusory use of HANS devices – the head and neck restraints designed to reduce the chance of head injuries – which came in to force in the island on January 1, 2016. In addition, revised Vehicle Regulations for the period 2016 to 18 are due to be ratified shortly.
 
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 22 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport & Works; Sol RB16 and the previous Sunday’s King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event, are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Sol RB16 marks the ninth 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

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