WRC 2 LEADER EVANS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2016

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WRC 2 LEADER EVANS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2016

World Rally Championship WRC 2 points-leader Elfyn Evans and co-driver Craig Parry will compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2016 (June 3-5) in the first-off-the-line Ford Fiesta R5 Evo which the car’s owner John Powell drove to victory in his home event, Rally Trinidad, this year. They will arrive in the island before Simpson Motors Scrutineering and Flow King of the Hill the previous weekend, allowing time to prepare for their new challenge.
 
The Welsh pair are slotting their Caribbean trip into an already busy schedule, having been enlisted by M-Sport for a dual programme with the new-generation Fiesta R5 Evo. Tasked with winning both the WRC 2 title and the re-vamped British Rally Championship (BRC), Evans has started well, currently leading WRC 2 after wins in Monte Carlo and Sweden and lying second in the BRC, having won the opening round in Wales.
 
Powell, whose Focus WRC08 will be driven by French ex-Ford works driver Simon Jean-Joseph, said: “We are always happy to work with the Barbados Rally Club as we continue to evolve the sport in the Caribbean. Like everybody else, I am really excited to see how our local and regional drivers will compare with Elfyn and Simon.”
 
It is 20 years since Welsh rallying legend Gwyndaf Evans won the BRC, in which he also finished runner-up four times over a 15-year period, and 10 short years since son Elfyn first embarked on a rally career, finishing second in the F1000 Championship. Since then, Evans – now 27 years old – has won eight titles in Ford Fiestas, including the FIA WRC Academy and BRC R2 Championship in 2012, then the Fiesta Sport Trophy Shootout in the same year, which offered him a year’s employment at M-Sport.
 
He played a major role in the development of the Fiesta R5, challenging ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica in the second half of 2013, finishing eighth overall and winning WRC 2 in Wales Rally GB. In his subsequent two seasons in the WRC, Evans has 12 top-six results to his credit, with two podiums: he led much of the Tour de Corse last year, claiming a career-best second place, and had earlier finished third in Rally Argentina, making for two British crews on the podium, as double Sol Rally Barbados winner, Ulsterman Kris Meeke, secured his first WRC victory.
 
Evans said: "I've heard a lot of great things about this event so a big thanks to John [Powell], M-Sport and the rally organisers for giving myself and Craig an opportunity to experience it for ourselves. There's always a lot of competition and the event attracts a lot of top-specification cars, so we'll have to wait and see what happens. But, if there is a possibility to challenge for the win, we'll certainly give it a go! This really is a unique opportunity to experience another new and very popular event. I'm sure it will live up to the expectation and I'm really looking forward to sampling the atmosphere first hand."
 
Parry, paired with Evans this season for the first time, brings a wealth of experience to the partnership, having rallied across the world as a full-time co-driver in 2002, which was also when he made his WRC debut. In recent years, he has dove-tailed campaigns in the WRC with Championships in Canada, the Middle East and, last year, selected rounds of the NACAM Fiesta R2 Cup, including a class win in Rally Panama.
 
Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “Through the years, our event has been fortunate to attract high-profile regional and international crews, who have enhanced the event’s competitive nature, and also its worldwide profile . . . we are confident that Elfyn and Craig will do so again. The participation of a crew and car that currently compete at the highest level in both the British Rally Championship and WRC 2 ticks two new boxes for us, and we hope this is a sign of things to come.
 
“The M-Sport built Fiesta R5 will add a new dimension to this year’s Sol Rally Barbados and I am sure that spectators will enjoy watching the local, regional and international crews over the three days of competition. We must thank Intercontinental Shipping and John Powell for their involvement in making this a reality, M-Sport for their interest in, and support of the effort and, of course, Elfyn and Craig for their time to come and have a play in the sand, sea, sun - and speed - that Barbados has to offer”.
 
 
Jean-Joseph and Duckworth bring 4wd line-up to 20
 
Jean-Joseph and Britain’s Roger Duckworth were also confirmed as participants, when the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) released the provisional entry list of 91 crews today (Monday) during a Media Briefing at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Rockley.
 
Double European Rally Champion Jean-Joseph returns with co-driver Jack Boyere in the John Powell-owned Ford Focus WRC08, in which they finished second in Sol RB15, 2secs behind Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Focus WRC06). While he is retired from regular competition, Jean-Joseph is still heavily involved in the sport, as gravel crew for Volkswagen Motorsport and triple World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier.
 
In the three years since WRC-2 (for cars built before 2004) was introduced to island regulations, double UK National Champion Duckworth has won the class twice in his ex-Juha Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC S6 – fifth overall both times – with Kevin Procter (ex-Markko Martin S7) the winner last year, eighth overall.
 
Sol RB16 will start with two Friday evening stages on the unique Race Of Champions Parallel Track at Bushy Park Barbados and finish with a RallySprint SuperSpecial at the Vaucluse Raceway for the first time since 2007; after 23 stages across the island, Sunday’s SuperSpecial will give drivers the chance to let their hair down head-to-head, safe in the knowledge that the times are not included in the results . . . although they will be required to take the SuperSpecial start to be considered overall finishers.
 
Title sponsor since 2008, Sol was represented today by General Manager (Barbados), Ezra Prescod: “Every year, the event expands and continues to attract the finest local, regional and international drivers, as well as visitors and supporters from across the globe. We want to take this opportunity to welcome all of our new visitors and to also welcome back our ‘Rally Nation’ of die-hard supporters.”
 
Corporate Communications Manager of Flow, Alan Harris, agreed: “Flow is especially pleased to be strengthening its support of local rallying, and as the excitement steadily builds, we are also very proud to be the title sponsor of Flow King of the Hill, an event that continues to provide motorsport fans with the perfect warm-up for Sol Rally Barbados. Year after year, the profile of rallying continues to be raised and we now look forward to yet another outstanding edition of Caribbean’s largest annual motorsport International.”
 
Sol Rally Barbados (June 3-5) and Flow King of the Hill (May 29) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017; title sponsors are the Sol Group and Flow. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art and Banks; official partners are Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line and the Tourism Development Corporation; associate sponsors are Chefette and Stoute’s Car Rental.
 
For media information only. No regulatory value.
 
For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com

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