USA’s Sherman joins R5 ranks for Rally Barbados

courtesy M&H Photography, UK; George Sherman completed the opening stage in last Saturday’s Brands Hatch Winter Stages despite the Fiesta's bonnet obscuring his view

Fresh from the first rally in his recently acquired Ford Fiesta Rally2, the Brands Hatch Winter Stages in the UK last Saturday (January 20), American George Sherman has confirmed his participation in Rally Barbados 2024 (May 31-June 2). He is the second driver now known to be stepping up to the FIA R5 class for the new season, along with local ace Logan Watson, who is joining the Skoda ranks.
  While Sherman’s outing in the fourth round of the Circuit Rally Championship at the former venue for the British Grand Prix did not go entirely to plan, he was still a very happy man: “Today was one of the best days of my life. I drove a proper rally car at an iconic track and had experiences that were unforgettable.”
  RB24 is the 34th edition of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event which has its roots in the International All-Stage Rally of 1990; since then, the event has grown in stature to become the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key component in the promotion of ‘Motorsport Island’. The Rally Show and King of the Hill (KotH), the final shakedown and seeding event, will be staged on May 25 and 26.
  Former dirt bike, drag and circuit racer Sherman made his rallying debut in Barbados in 2017, where he registered for the BRC Drivers’ and Class Championships and won the Novice Award, which he says he is “most proud of”. Driving the ex-David Coelho Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX prepared by DJS Auto Tuning, initially in Group N then in Modified 4, he was GpN Champion in 2018 and claimed the M4 title last year.
  Of his step up to R5, Sherman says: “I love my Evo IX, I have learned so much from that car: right-hand drive, all-wheel drive (I grew up in high horsepower rear-wheel drive cars), car control, driving on notes and the inner workings of a legendary Japanese vehicle. But I decided that it was time to move to a purpose-built car and in a larger class of competitors.”
  Before Saturday’s rally, Sherman had had almost no seat time in the Fiesta, with a test session last week on a short, technical stage at Teesside Autodrome in the north of England interrupted by a sensor issue. However, as Sherman said: “Seat time is seat time, so every opportunity is a learning moment.”
  After making the 275-mile trip south to Brands Hatch, Sherman’s dramas started on stage one of eight, with some ice and snow still on parts of the 4.9-mile test; the Fiesta’s bonnet blew up and covered the windscreen, leaving him 54th of the 66 starters. While things improved on the next two stages, when he finished 16th and 24th, moving up to 28th on the leader board, any further progress was halted when a failed throttle by wire motor resulted in contact with the barriers on stage four.
  Sherman’s car was being run at the weekend by Dom Buckley Motorsport IRS, long-term visitors to support cars in Barbados, with Neil Coleman co-driving. During the lunchtime break, they readied his Fiesta for the afternoon stages and he improved to finish 11th fastest on the day’s final stage. The team was able to use some components from Darrell Taylor’s similar car, which had retired at the lunch break with clutch failure.
  Now he is semi-retired, Sherman is hoping to find time to return to circuit racing in the US in his 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, although he remains committed to rallying as he learns how to extract as much as he can from the Fiesta . . . and to continue doing it in the island: “I consider Barbados my second home, as everyone is so inviting and willing to let me into their lives. I have had the good fortune to travel all around the world and I can say that this welcoming trait of the Bajans is quite special.”

Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally with around 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; the previous Sunday’s King of the Hill sprint, run under a similar arrangement, features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for the main event.

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