Winner of Group N at Sol Rally Barbados 2008, Britain’s Ryan Champion, is targeting a return to the event next year in the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 in which he finished third in last Saturday’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire.
While Champion is not yet among the more than 20 entries received since on-line registration opened last weekend, he is in determined mood.
The 2005 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Champion told the British weekly, Motorsport News: “We’re certainly going to see what we can do in terms of Barbados. It’s an event I’ve done before and one I’d like to do again. We’re going to talk about it, whether it’s possible or not, we’ll look into it, but it would be nice to do it.”
Organised by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary next year, Sol Rally Barbados 2017 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 2-4, with scrutineering and Flow King of the Hill the previous weekend, May 27 and 28. On-line entries are now open on the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – and will close in early May next year.
Barbados connections were well represented in Yorkshire last weekend, with many familiar names in the top 10: the five-stage 44-mile rally was won by Charlie Payne (Ford Fiesta), co-driven by Carl Williamson, who finished 21st and Historic 2 class-winner with Andrew Siddall in his Ford Escort MkI in Sol Rally Barbados 2011. Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson finished second in a Fiesta R5, with Champion and Allan Harryman third in the Lancer. Payne and Petch had two stage wins each, Champion claiming the other.
Regular Barbados top 10 finishers Kevin Procter and Rob Swann finished fourth and fifth, Procter co-driven by Andrew Roughead in his Fiesta, while Swann tackled his first gravel rally for a year with Aled Edwards on the notes in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12B. Peter Stephenson finished 10th in a Ford Focus WRC, with co-driver Ian Windress, who twice finished second in Barbados, with Paul Bird on his first two visits in 2008 and 2009.
The Lancer WRC04, which is owned by Tristan Bailey and run by Dom Delaney’s SVP outfit, is the predecessor to the WRC05, one of which Sean Gill drove to fifth place in Sol Rally Barbados 2010, which Champion remembers: “I used to test the WRC cars at Mitsubishi and I sat with Sean at Bushy Park when the 2005 car first arrived on the island, at something like 6.30 in the morning!”
Of his Yorkshire outing, which was dogged by low turbo boost early in the day, Champion said: “I had a couple of spins, it’s probably a couple of things, me overdriving and trying to make up a lot of time with the turbo issues. Having been fastest in Dalby, we were within a second of Charlie on the last two stages, and there’s quite a bit of difference in the technology to Charlie’s car. There’s definitely more to come from me and the car together.”
After winning Group N in Sol Rally Barbados 2008 – he finished eighth overall in a Lancer Evo VIII, co-driven by Craig Thorley – Champion returned the following year with his recently-restored Subaru Impreza 555, but retired with engine failure; with wife Jemma, son Finley and his parents, both also former competitors. Champion has been a regular spectator since then, so is looking forward to a Caribbean competition comeback.