No Swann song

Rob Swann

While the front-runners strive to become champion driver in the Barbados Rally Club’s 2012 Virgin Atlantic Championship last battle of the season at Black Bess, St. Peter this Sunday, Britain’s Rob Swann will be using the event as a warm-up for his next outing in the United Kingdom.

Swann, who achieved the unique double of winning Group N in Sol Rally Barbados 2010, then repeating the feat in Rally Jamaica the same year, has become a regular fixture of the BRC’s premier event, finishing seventh this year with regular co-driver Darren Garrod in his redeveloped M8-WRC Subaru Impreza.

On Sunday, he will be partnered by Geoff Goddard, a former BRC competition secretary and experienced co-driver, who has sat with Harold Morley and James Betts in recent years. Swann will drive the Group N Subaru Impreza N10 usually campaigned by Andrew Mallalieu, sponsored by Terra Caribbean and Waves Hotel Barbados.

“We’re here having a holiday, and I always try and get a rally in if possible. Plus, it will be a good warm-up for the Tempest Rally just west of London next weekend. It’s my first time on gravel in Barbados, so it will be interesting,” Swann said.

While his performance against the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IXs of Group N regulars Mark Hamilton and Geoff Noel will interest some, most attention will focus on the battle between the three drivers still in with a realistic chance of becoming champion driver.

Modified 7 leader Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic) still looks favourite to win the title, which is based on each driver’s class total, minus the season’s lowest score. But there is still a threat from Neil Corbin (M6 Toyota Starlet) and Logan Watson (SuperModfied 11 BMW M3). Before dropped scores are taken into account, Clarke has 156 points, Corbin 153 and Watson 150.

Once the score is dropped, however, the gaps are cut: Clarke has 143, Corbin and Watson 140 each. The year’s final event promises to be one to remember, as the island’s most prestigious title is contested.

Sunday’s rally will comprise eight stages, with four in each direction, either side of the lunch break. Competitors are expected to arrive for scrutineering by 8 a.m., with the event slated for a 9 a.m. start.

As before, service will be on the grassy area under the trees on the western approach to Mangrove Plantation.

BRC competition secretary Neil Corbin said there would be a pace-noting session at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow for any interested parties, and a short drivers’ briefing prior to the start of the event.

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