All systems are go for this Sunday’s eagerly anticipated FLOW King of the Hill, which is the precursor to next weekend’s Sol Rally Barbados 2016 extravaganza.
Those involved this Sunday read like a who’s who of rally driving with a huge crowd expected to follow the thrills.
M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans, who currently leads WRC 2 in the FIA World Rally Championship, double European Rally Champion Simon Jean-Joseph, Sol Rally Barbados 2015 winner Jeffrey Panton and 13-time winner of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event Roger Skeete, head the competitive entry list for Sunday’s shakedown.
Sol Rally Barbados 2016 and Barbados Rally Club chairman Mark Hamilton has expressed his excitement and satisfaction at what lies ahead for local, regional and international rally fans and competitors.
“The quality of this year’s entry and the interest shown by world-class competitors is a welcome endorsement of what our club has worked so hard to achieve in recent years, with the support of our partners in both the private and public sectors. Sol Rally Barbados is close to the top of the bucket lists of many crews, particularly in Europe, which speaks to the work of our hundreds of volunteers, also to the contribution our event makes to the sports-tourism product,” he said.
The provisional running order published today lists 80 starters, led by Welsh ace Evans (Ford Fiesta R5 Evo), whose FIA priority status places him ahead of last year’s winner, Jamaica’s Panton (Ford Focus WRC06) and Jean-Joseph (Focus WRC08) from Martinique. Only three Sol Rally Barbados 2016 entries are missing, British drivers Roger Duckworth, Barry McKenna and Kevin Procter, although Procter will be there as a spectator.
As last year, Flow King of the Hill runs from Hangman’s Hill through the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) then north to Lion Castle. The layout within the VRW is shorter than last year and the total stage length is 4.5 kilometres. Cars will run in reverse order of seeding, from Clubman 1 up to WRC-1, and the top 10 after the first official run will be held back and re-seeded in reverse order to run at the end of the field.
The practice run is slated for 10 a.m., followed by three official runs, the fastest of which will decide competitors’ finishing positions. The results of Flow King of the Hill will be used to seed Sol Rally Barbados 2016, while cars which do not compete will be seeded behind the last car in their class, unless safety considerations dictate otherwise.
From the inaugural King of the Hall at Turner’s Hall in 2008, Barbadian drivers Paul Bourne (2008 & 2010) and Skeete (2009 & 2011) shared the first four victories, as it moved first to Stewart’s Hill, then Sailor Gully and Hangman’s Hill. England’s Paul Bird won back at Hangman’s Hill in 2012, and again in 2014, after Neil Armstrong won in 2013, when the venue was Luke Hill in St Lucy. Skeete became the first driver to claim three wins last year.
Highest-placed two-wheel-drive car for the first three years was the Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift, with Sean Gill sixth in his last season in the car (2008), then Ian Warren ninth and fifth, the highest overall King of the Hall finish for two-wheel-drive. Armstrong was top two-wheel-drive in 2011 and 2012, ninth and eighth, the mantle then assumed by Roger Mayers, sixth and eighth respectively in 2013 and 2014, with Josh Read joining the roll of honour last year, in seventh position.
Rally fans will have access to a wide range of information. Both Sunday’s event as well as next week’s Sol Rally will enjoy record-breaking coverage across several media platforms.
Sol RallyFM Barbados: There will be a live internet commentary stream, delivered in association with RallyFM.net. Fans can listen to news, interviews and live commentary on www.rallyfm.net. They can also download the TuneIn Radio app and search for RallyFM to make listening via smart phone or tablet easier. To catch up or listen at a more convenient time rally fans can also access www.spreaker.com/show/sol-rallyfm-barbados.
The primary social media channel for all fans on Sunday will be Flow Live. There will also be coverage on SolRB’s social media channels, but for Flow King of the Hill, regular updates on both Facebook and Twitter will be posted, including photos, news updates, video clips and results on Flow Live.