Sheriff leading Bajan charge
Barbados’ top rally driver Roger The Sheriff Skeete will lead the home team when Sol Rally Barbados 2013 is staged over the weekend of June 1 and 2.
And the most successful driver in the 23-year history of the Caribbean island’s premier event is very much looking forward to the new season after what he described as some “character-building” moments in 2012.
His entry was posted a few days ago on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, with the provisional entry now at 70, nearly four months ahead of the May closing date.
With Louis Venezia his co-driver in the Subaru Impreza WRC S12, Skeete is aiming to put 2012 firmly behind him. With his 12 victories in the Barbados Rally Club’s †blue riband event including 1990, 1991 & 1992, then 2000, 2001 & 2002 and 2010 & 2011, he was on course for a remarkable hat-trick of hat-tricks. But it was not to be.
“It’s safe to say that 2012 didn’t yield the best results, however it’s all relative. But the disappointment of failing to restart after the afternoon service in Sol RB12 while in the lead, and with a car that was slowly coming to me with set-up changes we were making through the nine stages up to that point was character-building, to say the least.
“I don’t think we turned out to any event where we were not solving small problems coming off a major rebuild in 2011, but we were not going too badly in Sol RB12 until the unfortunate problems that eluded everyone until we were out of time.
“This trend continued until the end of the year, with small problems holding us back, with the exception of the last event where the car worked very well, albeit with an engine overdue a rebuild. We have taken corrective measures and start 2013 with a rebuilt and tested car, shaken down all through 2012 . . . but now with a very fresh engine. I am looking forward to 2013, especially due to the fact that I shall be competing once again alongside my son Dane and his co-driver Tyler Mayhew, as soon as their new car arrives in Barbados,” Skeete said.
Skeete’s Impreza finished second twice on World Rally Championship events in the hands of former works driver Petter Solberg – in Argentina and Mexico in 2006 – with a fourth place in Norway achieved the following year. Shortly after that it was sold to an Irish competitor, from whom Skeete acquired it just before Sol RB09.
From 1990, when the BRC’s inaugural International All-Stage Rally laid the groundwork for what has grown into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, Skeete won five of the first six events in a Peugeot 205 GTi, the last in 1995. Between 1997 and 2004, he doubled his tally of wins in a Peugeot 306 S16, Ford Escort Cosworth and Escort WRC. He was not to win again, however, until 2010 in his current Impreza.
Skeete will compete in the new-for-2013 WRC-1 class, created as part of the BRC’s review of its class structure, carried out in a three-year cycle. The previous Modified 8-WRC has been split into two, with cars built up to the end of 2003 now separated from those built after.
In addition, WRC-2 will cater for an increasing number of cars that no longer fit into the regulations for other four-wheel-drive classes, including the Subaru Impreza built to the UK’s B13 regulations and driven by British regular Rob Swann, whose entry for Sol RB13 was confirmed last month. (RB)