Paddon and Kennard are top seeds for Sol Rally Barbados

courtesy Barbados Rally Club/Gerrard Wilson, New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are seeded at one for Sol Rally Barbados 2023 in their Hyundai i20 R5

 Having claimed a debut victory in First Citizens King of the Hill last Sunday, New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are top seeds for the 33rd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. Published by the BRC at last evening’s (Wednesday) Briefing Meeting at Mahogany Ridge, St Thomas, the entry list of 84 cars for this weekend’s Sol Rally Barbados 2023 includes drivers and co-drivers from 13 countries.
  Following the floodlit Sol SuperSpecial at Bushy Park Barbados tomorrow evening (Friday), which will be run in reverse order of seeding, Paddon will lead the field away from the restart at Sol Speightstown at 9.45am on Saturday in his Hyundai i20 R5. Winners of Sol RB19 & ’22, Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) will start second, with Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Michael Fennell Jnr, four-time winners of both KotH and Sol RB since 2015, at three in a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, making it the first time three different manufacturers have been represented in the top three seeds since 2015 when they were Suzuki, Ford and Subaru.
  Zane Maloney, who returned home this week for a mid-season break from his FIA Formula 2 campaign, will start at four with co-driver Kreigg Yearwood in a Fabia Rally2 evo; last year, at age 18, Maloney became the youngest-ever winner of KotH, but retired from Sol RB22 early Sunday morning while lying fourth. With Barbadian Orry Hunte as co-driver, Panton’s fellow-countryman Kyle Gregg, whose father Gary won in Barbados in 2006, will start fifth in his Ford Fiesta Rally2, with Britain’s Kevin Procter and Patrick Walsh at six in their WRC class Fiesta S2000T.
  After completing only one clean run last Sunday, Stuart Maloney and Kristian Yearwood will start at seven in their Fabia Rally2 evo, with Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Fabia R5) seeded at nine and the sixth car in the FIA R5 class in the top 10. Four of these are registered for points in the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) R5 Rally Championship presented by First Citizens, which is finely poised. After KotH, Maloney leads with 28 points from Panton (27), Hill (24) and Gregg (23), setting up a thrilling weekend, with three scores on offer: Friday and Saturday of RB23 are round five, Sunday round six, with additional bonus points available for the overall result.
  The highest-seeded two-wheel-drive cars will both start in the top 10. Brothers Roger and Barry Mayers are seeded at eight and 10 respectively in their Toyota WR Starlet and Ford Fiesta with co-drivers Barry Ward and Ben Norris; Logan Watson and Andrew Croney are next in line, starting at 20 in their BMW M3. In addition to the battle for overall and 2wd supremacy, there are 13 contested classes, in nine of which island competitors will enjoy the challenge of pitting their skills against regional or international entries, or both.
  Two numbers are being rested on this year’s running order, 30 and 43, in memory of drivers lost in the past 12 months. Along with other members of his family, Owen ‘Bird’ Cumberbatch had been a long-standing presence in island motor sport, as co-driver, driver and latterly with his recovery wrecker. He last contested Sol Rally Barbados in 2014, when his start number was 30, with his best result coming in Sol RB11, second in what was then the SuperModified 11 class to his brother Sammy. A new trophy named in his honour will be presented this year to the highest-placed BMW.
  The number 43 was used by American motor sport icon Ken Block for most of his competition career, including his two visits to Bushy Park to compete in the Global Rallycross series. With co-driver Alex Gelsomino in a Ford Fiesta Rally2, Block also claimed a memorable victory in Sol RB20 and had grown a huge following in the island. His family have started the 43 Foundation to carry on his legacy, creating paths of opportunity for exceptionally driven people, who may lack the proper support system for growth and success.
  There are three loops of three stages to the north of the island on Saturday - Dark Hole (4.10km), Chefette Sailor Gully (4.00km) and the longest of the weekend, Pickering (7.60km); on Sunday, the action moves to the south and east, again with three loops of three venues – Banks Padmore (6.10km), Automotive Art Kendal (7.30km) and Carter’s Malvern (6.30km), followed by the daylight Honda SuperSpecial and Rally Finish at Bushy Park. Once completed, competitors will head for The Hill, where fans and service crew will gather for the provisional podium and after-party.

Sol Rally Barbados 2023 entry statistics:
• 84 crews on the final running order
• 47 overseas drivers and co-drivers
• 59 local entries
• 21 female competitors, two drivers, 19 co-drivers
• cars from 17 manufacturers, BMW the best-represented with 27 models, followed by Ford (16), Toyota (8) and Skoda (6)

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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