Swann & Procter to return to Sol Rally Barbados

Swann team

Two of the most popular Subaru Impreza drivers to have journeyed from England to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international in recent years are today confirmed for Sol Rally Barbados 2013 (June 1/2). Kevin Procter will compete for the first time since 2009, while Rob Swann is back for the sixth consecutive year.

Since entries opened on November 1 last year on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, nearly 60 have been received, with another four months to go before entries close; more than half are from Regional or International crews, with Procter and Swann the first overseas four-wheel-drive entries confirmed.

This will be Procter’s eighth trip as a competitor since his introduction to the event in 2003; in common with Swann and last year’s winner Paul Bird, however, he returns to Barbados for family holidays outside the rally season and all three have been in the island in the past few weeks.

Procter had another reason to celebrate during his New Year family holiday in Barbados: last Saturday (December 29), he won the Christmas Stages Rally in North Yorkshire for the fourth time in five years in the Procters Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7, co-driven by Dave Bellerby, the same combination which will attack Sol RB13.

Procter has four times finished in the top 10 in Barbados, with a best of fourth in 2009, the second time he entered the Impreza. He had previously finished fifth (RB07, Hyundai Accent WRC), ninth and highest-placed European crew (RB05, Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4), also fifth and highest-placed overseas crew (RB04, Ford Escort Cosworth).

Introduced to rallycross by Bellerby, a competitor for many years, Procter concentrated on the European Rallycross Championship (ERC) in 2012, after some outings in the British series; driving a Ford Focus, he has raced against well-known names including former WRC Champion Marcus Gronholm and Global Rallycross Champion Tanner Foust. He finished 10th in the 2012 ERC, his victory in France a memorable result, as he won the ‘A’ Final from the back row, having fought through the ‘C’ and ‘B’ finals after a poor qualifying . . . a rare achievement in the history of rallycross.

Swann has three top 10 finishes in the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event to his credit, with a best of fifth in Sol RB11, co-driven in a Subaru Impreza WRC S12 by Darren Garrod. Ninth the previous year in his Impreza N14 also brought a Group N win, which he repeated in Rally Jamaica six months later, making him the first driver to do the double in the same year, a remarkable achievement for an overseas visitor.

The same car returned last year, almost unrecognisable after a comprehensive rebuild to Britain’s B13 spec, stripped to a bare shell, lightened, dipped, re-sprayed, then fitted with a WRC-spec engine, six-speed sequential gearbox and active centre diff. Swann started on the back foot, with no chance to test in the UK, so was disappointed with 16th in King of the Hill; development work during the week resulted in a seventh-place finish in Sol RB12, however, with Swann rarely outside the top 10 stage times.

He is confident that he can do even better this year, with further tweaks now completed on the Waves Hotel and Spa/Cygnet Plant Ltd/Revolution Wheels/Wacker Neuson Subaru Impreza. Third place and a class win on the Tempest Rally in the UK in November and his second consecutive victory on the Premier Rally a few weeks later – both loose-surface events – have further boosted his confidence with the car.

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