Drivers ready to rule the Hill
A record number of overseas crews are making last-minute preparations for this Sunday’s LIME King of the Hill, the final shakedown ahead of the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport, Sol Rally Barbados 2015 from May 29 to 31, at which the Barbados Rally Club is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its premier event.
The provisional running order published today lists 87 starters, headed by Sol RB14 winner Roger Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) and former UK National Rally Champion Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC08), winner for the previous two years. Only four Sol Rally Barbados 2015 entries are missing from LIME King of the Hill: Norman Catwell (engine problems), Jamaica’s Kyle Gregg (competing at Dover Raceway), International entries Toni Gardemeister (WRC duty with Volkswagen Motorsport in Portugal) and Kevin Procter (contesting his home round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship).
LIME King of the Hill returns to St Thomas, but with huge changes to the course, as it now runs from Hangman’s Hill through the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW), which will host the LIME/Banks/Automotive Art Party Stage, to Lion Castle. The added mileage through VRW makes it the longest King of the Hill course since it was introduced in 2008, at 4.6 kilometres.
From the inaugural event at Turner’s Hall in 2008, local drivers Paul Bourne (2008 & 2010) and Skeete (2009 & 2011) shared the first four victories, as it moved first to Stewart’s Hill, then Sailor Gully and Hangman’s Hill. Bird won on the second visit to Hangman’s Hill in 2012, and again last year, after Neil Armstrong had added his name to the roll of honour in 2013, when the venue was Luke Hill in St Lucy.
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 KotH finish for two-wheel drive cars. Armstrong was top two-wheel-drive in 2011 & 2012, ninth and eighth, the mantle assumed over the past two years by Roger Mayers, sixth in 2013, eighth last year.
The practice run is slated for 10 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 LIME King of the Hill are used to seed Sol Rally Barbados 2015; cars which do not compete will be seeded behind the last car in their class, unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. New for 2015 is a Saturday morning reseed after Friday night’s first two stages at Bushy Park, in addition to the traditional Sunday morning reseed based on the overnight classification.