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Pictured flanking Flow’s Jenson Sylvester in 2018, can Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (right) and Michael Fennell Jnr make it four in a row at Flow King of the Hill on Sunday?


Local, regional and international crews in classic showdown

A record entry of 95 crews will contest Sunday’s (May 26) Flow King of the Hill, the final shakedown ahead of Sol Rally Barbados 2019 (May 31 to June 2), the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event. A classic showdown between local, regional and international drivers is on the cards, to be played out in front of huge crowds as the event makes a popular return to Stewart’s Hill, an iconic venue in island motor sport.

Dane Skeete steps up to lead the ‘home team’, driving the Subaru Impreza WRC S12B in which his father Roger won KotH three times, a score equalled last year by Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Ford Focus WRC06). With Britain’s Rob Swann (Impreza S12B) and Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) also in the mix – their best finishes are, respectively, second in 2017 and third in 2008 - the result of Sunday’s event is not a foregone conclusion, but the outcome will fuel some lively discussions among fans in the coming days.

The provisional running order published today (May 24) lists the 95 starters – four more than the previous record entry in 2012 – in 12 classifications. The results of Flow KotH will be used to seed Sol RB19 - drivers who either don’t compete or fail to set a time will be seeded behind the last car in their class, unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. Only three Sol RB19 entries are missing - from overseas, Roger Duckworth (Subaru Impreza WRC S6) and New Zealand’s Nick Marshall (Peugeot 106 Maxi), along with local driver Kenny Cumberbatch (BMW M3).

Flow KotH returns to Stewart’s Hill for the first time since 2009, although using a slightly different 4.5-kilometre course, starting at St Catherine’s Church. Cars will run in reverse order of seeding, from Clubman 1 up to WRC, with the first of four runs - two each before and after the lunch break - slated for 10.05am; there is no practice run, with the fastest time deciding competitors’ finishing positions.

BRC and Sol RB19 Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “As Sol Rally Barbados has developed, so has Flow King of the Hill, thanks to the enthusiasm and energy the sponsor brings to the event; Sunday’s record entry is sure to provide competitors and fans alike with a spectacular day’s sport, particularly as the format of four official runs and no practice means drivers have to be on it from the get-go.”

From the first KotH at Turner’s Hall in 2008, local drivers Paul Bourne (’08, Impreza S9 & ’10, Focus WRC07) and Skeete (’09 & ’11, Impreza S12B) shared the laurels, as it moved first to Stewart’s Hill, then Sailor Gully and Hangman’s Hill. England’s Paul Bird (Focus WRC08) won back at Hangman’s Hill in 2012, and again in 2014, Neil Armstrong (Suzuki SX4) winning in 2013, at Luke Hill. Victory at Hangman’s Hill in 2015, the first year the test ran through the Vaucluse Raceway, was Skeete’s third, while Panton and Simon Jean-Joseph (Focus WRC08) shared the crown in 2016 after a rain-affected final run. Winner for the past two years, Panton is now tied with Skeete on three wins.

Highest-placed two-wheel-drive car for the first three years was the legendary Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift, with Sean Gill sixth in his last season in the car (2008), then Ian Warren ninth and fifth, which remains the highest overall KotH finish for 2wd. Neil Armstrong then kicked off six years of Toyota Starlet successes, ninth and eighth overall in 2011 & ’12; the mantle was then assumed first by Roger Mayers, sixth and eighth in 2013 & ’14, then Josh Read, seventh and sixth in 2015 & ’16. Rhett Watson won in 2017 in his BMW M3, seventh overall, with Barry Mayers (Ford Fiesta) the 2wd King of the Hill last year, ninth overall.

Sol Rally Barbados (May 31-June 2) and Flow King of the Hill (May 26) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Title sponsors: The Sol Group and Flow. Major partners: Automotive Art, Banks, Chefette, Sagicor and Simpson Motors. Partners: Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line, MQI, R L Seale & Co Ltd, Stoute’s Car Rental and the Tourism Development Corporation

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