FIA R5 class attracts quality entry for Sol Rally Barbados

courtesy Barbados Rally Club/Image Vault, The FIA R5 category in Sol Rally Barbados and First Citizens King of the Hill will be hotly contested

 National and international champions from circuit racing, rallying and rallycross from Barbados, the wider Caribbean and further afield are gathering for the highlight of the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) 2023 R5 Rally Championship presented by First Citizens. Cars from overseas were off-loaded from containers at Bushy Park Barbados on Wednesday to await the arrival of their crews for First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) and Sol Rally Barbados 2023 (June 9-11).
  While they will not score points in the BMF’s first national motor sport championship, New Zealander Hayden Paddon, who currently leads both the NZ and European rally championships, Ireland’s Ollie O’Donovan, former British Rallycross Champion and winner of Britain’s 2022-2023 Circuit Rally Championship, former UK National Rally Champion Roger Duckworth, and 2022 King of the Hill winner FIA F2 racer Zane Maloney add a further layer of quality to what is already a hugely competitive field.
  Inaugural R5 Champion Barbadian Stuart Maloney and co-driver Kristian Yearwood (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) won this year’s first points-scoring round, April’s Shakedown Stages. With circuit racing titles in the Caribbean Motor Racing Championship (CMRC) and the Radical Caribbean Cup also under his belt, plus the BRC Champion Driver title in 2021, the accomplished all-rounder is in a strong position to defend his title.
  After a sketchy 2022 season ended early, Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and long-term co-driver Mike Fennell Jnr have switched to a new Fabia Rally2 evo, finishing third last month; with four consecutive KotH wins (2016-19) and four straight Sol RB victories (2015-18), Panton’s reputation as the region’s best is well-founded. The only driver to have won all of the region’s ‘Big Three’, on gravel in Jamaica and Trinidad, on tarmac in Barbados, he was the Rally Club’s Champion Driver in 2017 & ’18.
  Fellow Jamaican Kyle Gregg, whose father Gary won RB06, made a strong impression in the opening R5 round finishing fourth with co-driver Orry Hunte in a new Ford Fiesta Rally2. A three-time Champion Driver at the Dover Raceway, with multiple class titles to his credit, he was the first Jamaican to win circuit and rallysprint titles in the same year back in 2012 and has since won the loose-surface Rally Jamaica three times.
  Britain’s Rob Swann is tackling his 15th Rally Barbados, his first in a Fabia R5, acquired after a lacklustre 2022 campaign, in which his best result was third in Sol RB22, a fourth podium in five events. His credentials also include being the only driver to win Group N in Barbados and Jamaica in the same year, 2010, a signal achievement for an overseas visitor. While he is without long-term co-driver Darren Garrod, still recovering from their meeting with a power pole while leading the Shakedown Stages, he is joined for RB23 by the experienced Tom Woodburn, who finished fifth in RB22 with Andy Scott.
  The other significant retiree from the Shakedown Stages was the crew of Josh Read and Mark Jordan, whose Fiesta R5 left the road at high speed when the brakes failed. Read won the FIA R5 class in Sol RB22 and finished second overall, an impressive result in only his second weekend in the car. Rally Club Champion Driver in 2007, he is another all-rounder with circuit racing successes in the Suzuki Challenge Series Swift Cup, winning twice and clocking up more podium finishes than anyone else.
  Second last month was Roger Hill (Fabia R5), who finished third in the R5 standings last year, losing out on a tie-break to Read, despite having contested every round; the former BRC Champion Driver, with many class titles on his cv, has finished in the top 10 of the island’s premier event 23 times, most of them with Graham Gittens.
  While he has only recently returned to rallying, Mark Maloney was a podium finisher in in 2001 in a Nissan Pulsar; on the circuit, he has been a Champion at Bushy Park and in the CMRC, while he has more pole positions, podium finishes and fastest laps than anyone else in a Radical SR3 RS but is yet to win a title. Driving a Fabia Rally2 evo, he finished fifth last month with son Justin co-driving.
  Turks & Caicos Rally Team member Paul Horton debuted the Citroen C3 Rally2 which replaced his Fiesta in the Shakedown Stages, bringing a third R5 manufacturer to regular island competition. With triple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards as driver coach and co-driver, he was sixth, a few seconds ahead of President of the BMF Senator Andrew Mallalieu in his Fiesta. A former Rally Barbados class-winner, Mallalieu was the early leader of Sol RB20, which was won by the late Ken Block, finishing fourth and highest-placed local with Geoff Goddard. FIA duties mean he misses KotH, along with Duckworth and Zane Maloney, who races in the FIA F2 Championship in Barcelona that weekend.

R5 Rally Championship presented by First Citizens
Rounds 5 & 6: Sol Rally Barbados – entry list

* Roger Duckworth – ENG/Stuart Loudon - SCO (Ford Fiesta R5)
Kyle Gregg – JAM/Orry Hunte (Ford Fiesta Rally2)
Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (Skoda Fabia R5)
Paul Horton - TCI/Matt Edwards - WAL (Citroen C3 Rally2)
Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (Ford Fiesta R5)
Mark Maloney/Justin Maloney (Fabia Rally2 evo)
Stuart Maloney/Kristian Yearwood (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)
* Zane Maloney/Kreigg Yearwood (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)
* Ollie O’Donovan – IRL/Jack Morton - ENG (Hyundai i20 R5)
* Hayden Paddon – NZL/John Kennard - NZL (Hyundai i20 R5)
Jeffrey Panton – JAM/Michael Fennell Jnr – JAM (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo)
Josh Read/Mark Jordan (Ford Fiesta R5)
Rob Swann – ENG/Tom Woodburn - ENG (Skoda Fabia R5)
* not eligible for championship points

Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for Sol RB23.

For media information only. No regulatory value.

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