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Procter Returns to Barbados with the Same Car!
European entry list rises steadily

Britain's Kevin Procter, the latest European front-runner to confirm his entry for Sol Rally Barbados 2009, will break with tradition this year: for the first time since his debut in the island in 2003, he will tackle the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) blue riband event in a car he has rallied there previously.

He returns with the Procters Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7, in which he set the overall fastest time at the Shell V-Power SuperSpecial at Bushy Park last year; he also finished third in the Sunday Cup, after smashing a rear hub on the third Automotive Art Canefield stage on Saturday morning and dropping out of overall contention, while lying in fourth place.

His ex-works Impreza was campaigned by Subaru factory drivers Toshihiro Arai and Markko Martin in the 2001 World Rally Championship, the first season for the new, four-door car; along with Petter Solberg, they were team-mates to the late Richard Burns, who became England's first World Rally Champion that year, having finished runner-up in 1999 and 2000.

Procter's co-driver will again be Dave Bellerby, himself an accomplished driver; they started their preparations for Sol RB09 with an outing on the Specsavers Christmas Stages Rally, a British single-venue tarmac event at the Croft motor racing circuit in North Yorkshire in December; despite a strong late challenge from Impreza WRC S9 of Paul Bird and Ian Windress, second-place finishers in Sol RB08, Procter and Bellerby claimed the victory.

Having campaigned six different cars in Barbados between 2003 and 2008, Procter has collected a good haul of trophies; always among the strongest challengers from overseas, he has been a top 10 finisher three times, first in 2004, when he was fifth overall and highest- placed overseas driver, co-driven in his Ford Escort Cosworth by Mike Gilby.

The following year, again with Gilby, he was ninth overall and highest-placed European driver in his rare Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4, despite a fire during the early stages of Saturday; he repeated his fifth place in 2007, when experienced local co-driver Stewart Gill joined him in the ex-works Hyundai Accent WRC formerly campaigned by Alister McRae.

He dropped out of overall contention on his first visit in 2003, with Gilby the co-driver in the rumbling Ford Sapphire Cosworth, but his only total retirement came in 2006, when a series of turbo failures - four in all - on his Prodrive-built Group A Impreza resulted in his retirement after the fourth stage of Saturday, while lying in fourth place; that year was his first with Gill as co-driver.

Procter, who married his long-term partner Paula in Barbados in 2005, is looking forward to his return. With Britain currently enduring its worst weather for nearly 20 years, he comments: "I say it every year, but why wouldn't you go back? Especially now, when you look out of the window at snow as far as the eye can see!

"We have made so many good friends on the island in the past six years, and the good time we have down there is matched by the level of competition. It isn't easy in Barbados, with so many good cars and drivers, but it sure is fun trying to stay on terms with them. And its one whole lot warmer than here, certainly at the moment!"

Procter's name is added to a growing list of European competitors confirming their decision to return to the event, despite the challenging economic climate; the four-wheel-drive entry also includes Steve Perez (Ford Focus WRC), while Andrew Costin-Hurley (Ford Puma), Kenny Hall (Opel Corsa) and Martin Stockdale (BMW M3) have all gone home Group-winners in the past.

Sol Rally Barbados 2009 (May 30/31) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group, the Caribbean's largest independent oil company, and both events are rounds of the Virgin Atlantic BRC RallySport Championship. Associate sponsors include the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.