A classic showdown is in prospect in Sunday’s (May 28) First Citizens King of the Hill (KotH) when 87 crews go head-to-head in the final shakedown before Sol Rally Barbados 2022 (June 4/5), the 32nd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event. A freshly-configured course will challenge local, regional and international drivers equally, providing the island’s huge fan base with their biggest rallying spectacle since 2019.
Just a few days ago the organizers made a decision to change the route. It will now run from Content through the Dukes crossroads and on into the Vaucluse Raceway, where no changes to the course have been made. Cars will run in reverse order of performance, with the first of four runs – two each before and after the lunch break – slated for 10.30 a.m; there is no practice run, with the fastest time deciding competitors’ finishing positions.
Rally director Neil Barnard said: “The Barbados Rally Club works diligently to foster good relationships with residents, religious institutions and businesses that may be negatively impacted by road closures due to motor sport events. On behalf of the Club and our competitors, I must thank the residents, the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources, officers of the Civil Service, the Barbados Motoring Federation and the Hon Cynthia Forde, MP for St Thomas, who worked with us in such a positive way this week to quickly resolve the issue we were facing.”
The provisional running order published today (May 26) lists the 87 starters in 13 classifications, with drivers or co-drivers from 11 nations and a record-equalling 22 female competitors. The results of First Citizens KotH will be used to seed Sol RB22 – drivers who either don’t compete or fail to set a time will be seeded behind the last car in their class, unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. Only three Sol RB22 entries are missing – the Ford Fiesta R5s of Britain’s Roger Duckworth and BMF President Senator Andrew Mallalieu, who is FIA Formula 1 Steward at the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, also Mark Kinch’s new BMW Compact.
Winner of KotH in 2020 and Sol RB19, Dane Skeete leads the ‘home team’ in the Subaru Impreza S12 in which his father Roger also won KotH three times, but he will face a strong challenge. Jamaica’s Jeff Panton has four back-to-back wins to his credit in his previous Ford Focus WRC06, but now competes in the FIA R5 class in a Fiesta, while Britain’s Rob Swann, who has competed against Panton in an identical Fiesta this year is entered in the Impreza S12B in which he has twice finished second to Panton in Sol RB.
The record number of 12 entries in the FIA R5 class also includes reigning BRC champion driver Stuart Maloney (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) and his nephew FIA Formula 3 racer Zane in an older Fabia R5. Continuing the family theme, long-time supporter of island rallying Britain’s Kevin Procter will drive his familiar Fiesta S2000T, with nephew Joe Cunningham, Andy Scott and Nigel Worswick all in similar cars.
Although he is entered for KotH, three-time top two-wheel drive (2wd) Roger Mayers (Toyota WR Starlet) is not entering Sol RB22, so the field is wide open for a new top seed in the main event. Likely candidates are: Andrew Jones, who finished 10th overall in Sol RB20 taking 2wd honours for the first time in his Ford Escort MkII; Logan Watson, who powered his Modified class BMW M3 closer to the SuperModified guys than ever before in the BRC Shakedown Double Header in April; perhaps Ian Warren, twice the top 2wd finisher in KotH in the legendary Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift, now in a BMW Compact.
After the inaugural event in 2008 at Turners Hall in St Andrew, KotH moved venues, first to Stewarts Hill in St Philip, then Sailor Gully in St Peter, before finding a more permanent home on Hangmans Hill in St Thomas, where it ran from 2011 to 2018, apart from 2013, when it moved to Luke Hill in St Lucy. For the past two years, the event returned to the south-east corner of the island and Stewarts Hill. (RB)