courtesy of M & H Photography in the UK, images from last Sunday’s Snetterton Stages, Dick Mauger/Gino Gouveia (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)

Procter, Swann and Scott keen to return to island competition

Sol Rally Barbados was a hot topic of conversation in the Service Area at last Sunday’s (April 25) Snetterton Stages in the East of England, the second round of the Motorsport News MSVR Circuit Rally Championship. Kevin Procter, Rob Swann and Andy Scott, all front-runners in the island’s premier event in recent years, enjoyed their first taste of action and the chance to discuss a possible return to the island after a hiatus of many months on both sides of the Atlantic caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  Sol RB21 is scheduled for September 25/26, with King of the Hill the previous Sunday; the dates will be confirmed by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) on June 1, given sufficient further progress in the global fight against Covid-19. For the first time, the BRC’s blue riband event will be a round of the FIA Regional Rally Championship for the NACAM zone (North America, Central America, the Caribbean and the north of South America).
  At Snetterton, Procter was the best the Sol RB regulars, finishing fifth despite some brake issues in the Ford Fiesta S2000T in which he was running a strong second on Sol RB19 until gearbox failure on Saturday evening. With three fourth-place finishes to his credit, that would have been his best island result, although that has never been his priority: “For me, it’s always been the social side of the event that’s important. We’ve missed being there, Andy [Scott] and I were going out for a holiday in February, but had to drop that, so assuming we can travel, we’ll be there.”
  While Procter’s Fiesta has had upgrades including paddle-shift gearbox, Andy Scott has a completely different car since his last trip to the Caribbean, the Fiesta R5 in which he finished third in Sol RB19 now in the hands of local driver Sol Esuf. His new mount is the same spec as Procter’s and is based on a Fiesta S2000 campaigned in 2010 by Ott Tanak. Having missed out on the family holiday with the Procters, Scott is keen to return: “Given that we can travel, if there are any events before Rally Barbados, I’d take the car out so I can get some seat time.” Scott was heading for a top 10 finish at Snetterton until a puncture cost 10 minutes on stage six, dropping him down the order.
  Swann was back in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12B for the first time since engine failure caused his retirement on the Friday night of Sol RB19 with his co-driver from that event, Steve McNulty, alongside. Despite finding it something of a challenge to settle back into the very different driving characteristics of the older car after campaigning his Fiesta WRC – “I was pressing the odd wrong button and getting the revs wrong”, he said – Swann was fourth fastest on the first two stages. Some contact with chicanes, then a misfire, however, hampered his progress and he slipped to seventh overall, before gearbox failure on stage six ended their day. Of returning to Barbados, Swann said: “Assuming all the travel and quarantine is sorted, the plan is to do the events in August to get some seat time in the Fiesta, then be back out for King of the Hill and Rally Barbados.”
  Also in action was veteran Dick Mauger, competing in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX for only the second time. He had bought the car specifically for Sol RB19, his sixth straight visit, finishing ninth in Modified 4 in Flow King of the Hill before falling ill and missing the rally itself. Mauger said: “The Evo is the ideal car for Barbados and we really missed going last year. We’ll definitely be back if the event goes ahead this year; even if we don’t bring the car, we’ll come out and marshal, just so we can be there.”
  One disappointed voice at Snetterton was that of 21-year-old Frank Bird, whose father Paul’s record in Barbados is unrivalled by any other international driver, with two wins and five further podium finishes in eight visits. Both victories came in his Ford Focus WRC07, which Frank has campaigned with considerable success since his stage rally debut in March 2019, adding rallying to his circuit racing programme. This year, he is racing an Audi R8 LMS for Team WRT in the GT World Challenge Europe, with the penultimate round on the same weekend as Sol RB21.
  Frank said: “I’m desperate to do Rally Barbados. Dad set the bar pretty high, so I’d enjoy giving it a go. I still think the Focus is the car for Barbados and I know it’s popular with the fans. Next year maybe.” With the Focus currently undergoing a ground-up restoration, Frank and co-driver Jack Morton had the use of a Fiesta Rally2 at Snetterton, in which they won two stages on their way to second place. The event was won by just 14 seconds in similar car by British Rally Championship runner Rhys Yates.

Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 24 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads; the results of King of the Hill - four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage – are used to seed the running order for the main event. Both events are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB21 marks the 14th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group.

For media information only. No regulatory value.

For further media information: e-mail -
web sites:

barbados website development and hosting by