Normal service resumed in 2wd battle for Sol RB23

photo by Himal Reece, following Wednesday’s (May 17) Media Briefing, Barry Mayers will be seeking a seventh Top 2wd Award in Sol Rally Barbados 2023. His Ford Fiesta was among local cars used for sponsor and media passenger rides at Bushy Park Barbados.

 Top Two-Wheel-Drive in Sol Rally Barbados is an accolade fought over with as much commitment and determination as overall victory and means every bit as much to the protagonists as well. Just ask Justin Campbell, 14th overall and top 2wd in Sol RB22 in his BMW M3 with co-driver Ayrton Bannister, who said afterwards: “It was the closest feeling I think I could get to winning Sol Rally Barbados.”
  Sol RB23, the 33rd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, will start with the floodlit Sol SuperSpecial at Bushy Park Barbados at 7.00pm on Friday, June 9. After two days of action in the northern and eastern parishes, the event will finish with the Honda SuperSpecial at 4.30pm on Sunday back at the St Philip facility. The Rally Show and First Citizens King of the Hill are on the previous weekend, June 3 & 4.
  While there were many notable absentees among the front-running 2wd crews in RB22, this year Campbell is one of eight former winners on the entry list, although some are no longer in the fight: Stuart Maloney (2019, Citroen C2) is now in an R5 Skoda, Ian Warren (2010 & 13, Suzuki Swift; ’06, Toyota Starlet) is in Clubman 2 in a BimmaCup, while Martin Stockdale (2002, BMW M3) is this year in Group B.
  The most successful since the event was last won by a 2wd car (Roger Skeete’s Peugeot 306 S16 in 1997) has been Barry Mayers. He jointly holds the record for the best overall result with brother Roger - Barry’s fourth place in 2005 was matched by Roger in 2016, each driving a Toyota Starlet – and has won 2wd six times, most recently in Sol RB18 in his SuperModified 2 Ford Fiesta with Ben Norris.
  Mayers says: “It has been some time since I have finished a Rally Barbados, so as much as I would like to be mixing it with Roger for a win, I also have in the back of my head I want to finish this one. I personally believe Roger will be my stiffest competition, although Logan did beat me in a double-header event last year, but I was nursing a few problems. The last time me and Roger went at it on dry road was Malvern last year and I won both directions, so I am hoping I can get that same speed but also with a bit in reserve to finish and with no big risks, especially over some of the bumpier roads.”
  Roger, who will have Barry Ward co-driving in his SM2 Toyota WR Starlet, adds: “The car worked really well in the Shakedown Stages, not a single problem at all. Towards the end of the event when it was drying out I started to get back into my rhythm, so I'm feeling good and strong going into King of the Hill. Barry will be quick as usual, Andrew Jones is always there and Logan Watson is flying, so will also be fighting for 2wd honours. The road conditions and stages look really good this year as well, so hopefully the reliability of the 2wd guys will stay and we can have a good fight.”
  A broken throttle linkage put Logan Watson and Andrew Croney out of the running early last year but Watson, whose brother Rhett twice won 2wd in his BMW M3, is upbeat about his chances of a first win: “I'm feeling confident it is my year so it will be ‘Maximum Attack’ from SS1. I am a lot closer to the Mayers boys, having beaten Barry last year, and I was getting close to them early in the Shakedown Stages with two burst rear shocks . . . and I found out since that one of the front shocks had a bend in it, too. We have upgraded a lot of parts, so it is looking set to be my best Rally Barbados. Reliability will be key as has been seen in past years. Andrew Jones is the unknown, but he is lacking seat time since last year. If he runs the big engine and it is reliable, he will be one to watch, for sure.”
  Jones won 2wd for the first time and finished 10th overall in Sol RB20 in his SM2 Ford Escort MkII, but he and wife Lindsey were joined by an electrical gremlin last year, which sidelined them after only one stage. Jones said this week: “Lindsey and I are really looking forward to KotH and Sol RB23 as this will be our first outing for the season. The Escort’s engine has been rebuilt and upgraded along with suspension, brakes and rear axle, so we are looking forward to seeing the improvements on KotH. My goal for RB23 is to win 2wd again and secure Lindsey’s fifth top Female Co-driver trophy as well.”
  Never to be discounted for the places in the 2wd battle, should attrition be a factor ahead of them, are Jonathan Still, top 2wd back in 2009, former class-winner Sammy Cumberbatch, who is entered for the first time since 2019, and Mark Kinch who didn’t make it to the start-line in 2022 with last-minute teething problems, all in BMW M3s. The leaders from stage two last year were Chris Ullyett and daughter Chantal in their Ford Escort RS2000, running as high as 18th overall, but they became a dnf.
  While they will not be in the battle for overall 2wd honours, the 14 crews in Clubman 2 – the best-supported class in the event – will be fighting tooth and nail, second for second, all weekend. While former BimmaCup Champion Sean Corbin has moved up to Modified 2, Derek Edwards, Ian Warren and Ryan Wood have all won BimmaCup titles in the past, while Chris Hoad won C2 in the BRC Championship in 2021. They are fierce competitors and the cars are evenly matched, so expect fireworks from the word go.
  The class also has a high ratio of Women in Motorsport competing – four co-drivers, plus the only all-female crew in the event, Natya Soodeen and Sameisha Williams. And it is a category that also attracts newcomers – from Antigua comes Stewart Gordon, whose outing in last month’s Shakedown Stages was his first-ever rally, while island drivers David-Anthony Balgobin and Savio Walcott are also scoring points in the BimmaCup Junior Championship, the first of its kind in the island and covering a range of disciplines, in which Balgobin leads Walcott by eight points after four rounds.

Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for Sol RB23.

For media information only. No regulatory value.

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