Britain’s Kevin Procter will mark his 10th appearance in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event in five months’ time, when he lines up for Sol Rally Barbados 2015 at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC S7. His entry has been confirmed just days after he won last Sunday’s Swift Signs Christmas Stages Rally in the North of England for the sixth time in seven years.
Sol Rally Barbados 2015 will run on Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31, with scrutineering and the King of the Hill shakedown event the previous weekend, May 23 and 24. Nearly 60 entries have already been received for the 25th anniversary running of the event via the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, where the on-line entry list is now ‘live’.
Hugely popular with fans on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for his flamboyant and attacking driving style, Procter did not start the day well on Sunday: a hard overnight frost had covered most of the Croft Circuit, a few miles from his home in North Yorkshire, in black ice, a disadvantage for last year’s winner, running first on the road.
With fellow rallycross ace Dave Bellerby in the co-driver’s seat, Procter was equal fourth on the first 6.4-mile test (with the Citroen Saxo of Martin Peters) and one of only two of the top 10 seeded drivers in the first 30 runners. Fastest was Mike Herrington in a Ford Escort – seeded number 82, he took advantage of the rapidly thawing conditions – ahead of David White (Impreza) and the Peugeot 106 of Liam Walling.
Fastest on SS2, White took the lead, with former Le Mans 24 Hours race-winner Guy Smith (MG Metro 6R4) now second and Procter third, despite losing a further 20 seconds with a spin and stall shortly after the start. He gained control on the next stage, however, going into the lunchtime turn-around 26 seconds ahead of White, with Smith’s father Peter now third in another 6R4, his son having retired with a broken gearbox.
In front of a record crowd, Procter continued where he’d left off after lunch, with three more fastest times – he was beaten by Chris Wise/Tracey Taylor West in the ex-Roger Mayers 6R4 on SS6, by just one second – to end the day with a winning margin of 1min 41 seconds after eight stages and 44.4miles. White was second and Peter Smith third.
For his return to Barbados, Procter’s co-driver will be Philip Hopkins, who co-drove in the island for the first time last year, when Procter finished seventh overall for the second consecutive year, also his sixth top 10 finish. His best is fourth in 2009, the second visit with the Impreza, added to fifth (RB07, Hyundai Accent WRC), ninth and highest-placed European crew (RB05, Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4), fifth and highest-placed overseas crew (RB04, Ford Escort Cosworth).
Since the WRC-2 class, catering for world cars built before the end of 2003, was introduced in 2013, Procter has finished third to Britain’s Roger Duckworth (Impreza WRC S6) and local Toyota dealer Roger Hill (Corolla WRC) two years ago, then second to Duckworth last year.