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All systems go for King of the Hill

Barbados Rally Club event being staged at Luke Hill in St. Lucy

Paul Bourne

Paul Bourne

Local, international and regional competitors are making last-minute preparations for this Sunday’s Scotiabank King of the Hill, the final shakedown ahead of the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, Sol Rally Barbados 2013 on June 1 and 2.

The Simpson Motors scrutineering tomorrow will give fans their first chance to see more than 10 cars new to the island.

The provisional running order for Sunday’s event published released today lists 89 starters, headed by former United Kingdom national rally champion Paul Bird, who won both events last year and will be seeking to do so again. His Ford Focus WRC08 landed at Grantley Adams International Airport on a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 yesterday afternoon, ready to face the biggest entry in the World Rally Car classes ever assembled in the region.

New Venue

Scotiabank King of the Hill is being staged at Luke Hill in St. Lucy for the first time, the fifth venue used since the inaugural King of the Hill at Turner’s Hall in 2008; that was followed by Stewart’s Hill and Sailor Gully, with Hangman’s Hill used for the past two years. Although a shorter course than in previous year, it is anticipated that Luke Hill will create very close competition.

The Barbados Rally Club’s VIP Experience is sited at the hairpin roughly mid-way through the course.

Local drivers Paul Bourne (2008 & 2010 champion) and Roger Skeete (2009 & 2011) shared the first four victories, while Bird’s win last year came after he had finished third in 2010, then second in 2011. Highest-placed two-wheel-drive car for the first three years was the Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift, with Sean Gill sixth in his last season in the car (2008), then Ian Warren ninth and fifth, the highest overall King of the Hill finish for two-wheel drive. Neil Armstrong was top two-wheel drive for the past two years, ninth and eighth, while Brett Clarke, Roger Mayers, Josh Read and Cliff Roett have also featured in the overall top 10.

Practice run

The practice run is slated for 10:15 a.m., followed by three official runs, the fastest of which will decide competitors’ finishing positions. Cars will run in reverse seeding order, from Clubman up to WRC-1, and the top 10 after the first official run will be held back and re-seeded in reverse order to run at the end of the field.

The results of Scotiabank King of the Hill are used to seed the following weekend’s Sol Rally Barbados event and cars which do not compete will be seeded behind the last car in their class, unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. Notable absentees on Sunday include Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Ford Focus WRC06) and Ireland’s Joe McQuillan in his Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII.

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