Multiple Barbados Rally Club Champion Sean Gill will drive an ex-works World Rally Car in competition for the first time this Sunday (May 23) in Shell V-Power King of the Hill, the final shakedown for the following weekend’s Sol Rally Barbados 2010, which marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Club’s International All-Stage Rally.
Alongside long-term co-driver Michael Cummins, he will drive an ex-Gigi Galli Mitsubishi WRC, due to arrive at Grantley Adams International Airport this afternoon (Friday, May 21); although the Shell V-Power/Automotive Art Suzuki SX4 WRC cannot now ready in time for this year’s events, Simpson Motors is delighted with progress on that project.
The company’s Brent Murphy said: “We are pleased with our initial testing and, in the coming weeks, Sean will be doing further tests with this exciting car.” His thoughts were echoed by Gill: “I am really thrilled about having the opportunity to drive a car of this calibre and my first experience with the car did not disappoint. I know it will be worth the wait!” Footage of Gill testing the SX4 has been posted today on the official Sol RB2010 web site, http://www.rallybarbados.bb/general-content/rally-barbados-video
The Lancer is run by MML Sports, which evolved from Ralliart Europe, the company that delivered four world rally titles for Tommi Makinen and one manufacturer’s title for Mitsubishi. The flamboyant Gigi Galli was the first driver of the car heading for Barbados - he finished fifth on chassis 15’s debut in Rallye Deutschland 2005; later in the season, he was lying fourth in Rallye Catalunya, having taken two consecutive stage wins, when he crashed into a bridge after the flying finish of the second of those stages.
The car was also driven by Gilles Panizzi on the 2005 Tour De Corse, one of his final appearances in a factory World Rally Car, but retired with electrical issues. As a customer car for MML, it won the Sarma Rally in Latvia earlier this year.
Twice the Barbados Rally Club’s Driver’s Champion – in 2000 and ’03 – Gill won Class Championships five years out of six between ’03 and ‘08 in Suzuki Ignis and Suzuki Swift models, so is looking forward to being reunited with the marque when the SX4 arrives.
Battles through the field
While Gill is battling at the head of the field come Sol Rally Barbados weekend, there will be many others equally as eager to do well in the remaining 12 classifications. In the Historics, former winner Ding Boston, co-driven this year by Hannah Byrd in the Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation/Toyo/Recaro/Phillips Tyres/Huzier/Just Grillin’/VP Racing Fuels/Virgin Atlantic/Structural Systems/Ullyetts Machine Shop Service Riley 1.5 has to face one of his team’s benefactors, Greg Cozier, with Jamie Marsh on the notes in his just-arrived Mahindra/Citgo/Hyundai Trucks Ford Escort RS2000.
In the less well-supported lower-capacity classes, brothers Sean and Adam Cox (Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift) are the most regular crew in M5, but may find Ireland’s Glenn Campbell (CG Rally Prep/Campbell Motorsport Wiring/Motorcare/Motoglass/Burn Road Trade Sales/Graham Curry Photography Nissan Micra Kit Car), more of a challenge on his second trip to Barbados, with new co-driver Thomas Maguire; the experienced Wayne Manning/Willie Hinds (Black Bess Quarry/Citgo/Glassfibre Products Peugeot 205), had a good run in the Automotive Art Shakedown Stages and will be in the mix.
In the Production classes, Brits Howard and Ruth Paterson should be on the P2 pace in the Rallydrive International Driver Tuition Skoda Fabia – Howard back after nearly 20 years away from the island – although locals Fabien Clarke/Arlington Hoyte (Barbados Business Listings/Crimson Jade/RCR Tours/Bovell Auto Repair/Big P Customs Brokers/De Fx-Bar Suzuki Ignis Sport) will be doing their best to keep them back.
Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, LIME, Automotive Art, Banks and Karcher; official partners are the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Authority, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Geest Line and Virgin Atlantic Airways; associate sponsors are Stoute’s Car Rental, Glacial Pure and Chefette.
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