Britain’s Rob Swann, who finished second in Sol Rally Barbados 2014, is already well advanced in his preparations for next year’s 25th Anniversary running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event.
Online entries are already open on the official web site –– www.rallybarbados.net –– for Sol Rally 2015 which will run on May 30 and 31, with scrutineering and Scotiabank King of the Hill the previous weekend of May 23 and 24.
With regular Welsh co-driver, Darren Garrod, Swann drove his Subaru Impreza WRC S11 to his best overall finish since his 2008 debut, 25 seconds adrift of 13-time winner Roger Skeete (Impreza S12) and roughly the same margin ahead of third-placed John Powell of Trinidad, competing for the first time in his recently-acquired Ford Focus WRC08.
Swann’s best previous finish had been fifth, in a rented Impreza S12 in 2011, his first appearance in Barbados in a World Rally Car, having won Group N and finished ninth overall the previous year in an Impreza N14. The same year he won Group N in Rally Jamaica, the first and so far only driver to do the double in the same year.
Looking back on this year’s result, Swann said: “Rally Barbados 2014 was just fantastic. I had my sights on a podium, so to be pushing for a win on day two and finally taking second was a great result. It was a credit to Darren on the notes, to everyone involved in the team, and of course to the family for their terrific support.”
Since the car was shipped home to the United Kingdom, Swann has returned to the Rally of Flanders in Belgium, where he had enjoyed his first outing in his ex-Petter Solberg Impreza last year, although this time he recorded a non-finish, retiring part-way through day one with a damaged steering rack.
Swann added: “I am still finding things to adapt on the car, and had certainly learnt a lot over the two days in Barbados, so it is always good to get out again and give things a try. We were right on the pace in the early stages, consistently in the top six . . . and we had a stage win against the likes of Freddy Loix, Pieter Tjsojen and Kris Princen, all former Belgian or European Champions, so we know we are on the right track.”
Swann will now switch to gravel events, the JLT Tempest Rally on Saturday, November 8, which he won for the first time last year, followed by the SA Gas Premier Rally two weeks later, at which he became the first driver in its 30-year history to claim a hat-trick of wins in 2013.
Swann said: “We will then have a big winter prep and convert the car back to Tarmac spec ready for 2015. My main focus for the early part of the year will be Tarmac leading up to RB15 . . . and then looking to improve on this year’s result!”
When he’s not driving the rally car, Swann has other ways to work on his fitness: “I’m keeping up to speed in any way I can. I’ve just achieved my best result of eighth in the Solo Quad class at the Weston Beach Race, a three-hour enduro, and I then have the Weymouth Beach Race to help with fitness levels between the two gravel rallies”.
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