Home / Cars / Motorsports / News / Swann Upping Ante for SOL Rally Barbados


Swann Upping Ante for SOL Rally Barbados
Procter wins first event of the 2010 season in Britain

British Rally Championships regulars Rob Swann and Darren Garrod are returning to the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) premier event, Sol Rally Barbados (May 28-30) with just one aim in mind . . . victory in Group N; fourth in 2008, they finished second last year, after an event-long battle with eventual winner, Bajan driver Geoff Noel, and Trinidad-based Jamaican John Powell.

Swann's Subaru Impreza N14 will be backed by Barbados roadside assistance business Automate CGI and west coast hotel Waves, in addition to his regular UK sponsor Revolution Wheels; it is among 10 overseas entries already received on-line, and will benefit from the incentives offered to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the BRC's International All-Stage Rally.

Like many before him, who had first visited the Caribbean island to go rallying, Swann has become ‘hooked' on Barbados in a very short space of time, and will return with his family in February for what will be his eighth visit in two years. He says: “When I received the e-mail just before Christmas saying entries were open, a smile came across my face. Rally Barbados is the best motor sport event of the year! I have made many friends over the last couple of years and I entered immediately, as it's so much fun. We are doing some British Championship rounds in 2010 and selected rallies for ‘fun', but I think if I only did one rally a year it would be Barbados.

"We had such a great Group N battle last year and I really need to take the win this time round. The Subaru is currently having the new 2010 upgrades, such as 33mm restrictor, which will help the cause, and close the gap to the WRC guys slightly. Having now competed twice, I have a good feel for the stages, so we will be very competitive and its time for a win!"

On their first visit in 2008 with an Impreza N11, Swann and Garrod placed third overnight in Group N – Production 4, as the category is named in Barbados – but an early scare on Sunday morning resulted in them slipping to fourth. Last year, with the new N14 and better knowledge of the stages, they were in the hunt from the start.

They were second fastest on the opening stages, first to Powell then to Noel, each at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, but a startline puncture on stage three cost them 15 seconds; even so, and boosted by a stage win on the third Sailor Gully, they were third at lunch. Powell lost 80 seconds – and the Group N lead - to a puncture in the afternoon and, with a total of 10 second-fastest times in the day, Swann was only three seconds behind Noel at bed-time.

Spurred on by the opposition, Noel claimed another five stage wins on Sunday; Powell's hopes of pulling back his deficit faded, while a puncture on the last Malvern, then rain on the last stage, finally did for Swann's committed charge.

Victory for Procter on Specsavers Christmas Stages

Rally Barbados regulars Kevin Procter and Dave Bellerby won Britain's first rally of 2010, the Specsavers Christmas Stages, last Saturday (January 2), a single-venue event run at the Croft motor racing circuit in North Yorkshire . . . but they had to make sure the event could run first!

Heavy snow across many parts of the UK has caused chaos over the past 10 days, including cancelled flights to and from Barbados, and Procter and Bellerby provided JCB diggers and snow-moving equipment, plus drivers, who worked with volunteers over the days before the event to clear the venue.

Procter kept the Procters Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7, popular with Barbados fans, ahead of the field throughout the seven stages, winning by a margin of exactly two minutes; the car he headed home was another well-known to fans in the island, the blue MG Metro 6R4 formerly campaigned by Roger Mayers, now in the hands of Chris Wise.

Wise will face an even stronger challenge in the next event at Croft, the Cartersport Jack Frost Stages (January 17) as Paul Bird, runner-up in Sol Rally Barbados for the past two years, will be defending his 2008 title; for this event, he will be co-driven in his Ford Focus WRC08 by Scotland's Kirsty Riddick.

Sol Rally Barbados (May 28-30) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB10 marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Club's International All-Stage Rally.