Talent-packed entry for First Citizens King of the Hill

courtesy Barbados Rally Club, Competitors are ready for the biggest two weekends of the motor sport year - First Citizens King of the Hill and Sol Rally Barbados 2023

Four runs over a demanding new course combining sweeping high-speed sections, crests and a steep, technical climb through tight uphill hairpins will decide which driver from a first-rate field of local, regional and international Champions wins Sunday’s (June 4) First Citizens King of the Hill. More than 80 crews are listed on the running order published today (Thursday) for the final shakedown before Sol Rally Barbados 2023 (June 9-11), the 33rd edition of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event.
  In a return to the south-east corner of the island, the 4.2-kilometre stage for the 15th running of King of the Hill starts at Palmers, at the bottom of Stewarts Hill in St Philip. It heads towards Codrington, taking a sharp left up the steep hill that leads towards Society Plantation, where a right turn carries it to the finish outside Colleton Plantation Yard in St John. There will be four timed runs, starting at mid-day, with the event expected to be finished by 5.00pm, after which there will be a Prizegiving at Bushy Park Barbados, which will be the Service Park for the day.
  There are 82 starters in 15 classes, with drivers or co-drivers from 12 nations and a record-equalling 22 female competitors. The results of First Citizens KotH will be used to seed Sol RB23 - drivers who either don’t compete or fail to set a time will be seeded behind the last car in their class unless safety considerations dictate otherwise. The field will run in reverse order of performance, from the less modified cars up to the high-performance state of the art four-wheel-drives, building the excitement through the day.
  The final car to run will be the Hyundai i20 R5 of New Zealand’s most successful rally driver Hayden Paddon, who arrives in the island as the current leader of the both the 2023 European and NZ rally championships after a globe-trotting four months. With last year’s KotH winner Zane Maloney racing in the FIA F2 Championship this weekend, Sunday’s second seed is his uncle Stuart (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo), who finished runner-up in KotH last year and went on to win the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) R5 Rally Championship presented by First Citizens.
  Third seed is Dane Skeete, winner of KotH in 2020 and Sol RB19 & 22 in the Subaru Impreza WRC S12 in which his father Roger also won KotH and Rally Barbados each three times. With back-to-back four-time KotH winner Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Fabia Rally2 evo) and fellow-countryman Kyle Gregg (Ford Fiesta Rally2), Barbadian front-runners Roger Hill (Fabia R5), Josh Read (Fiesta R5) and Mark Maloney (Fabia Rally2 evo) and British visitors Ollie O’Donovan (i20 R5), Rob Swann (Fabia R5) and the WRC class Fiesta 2000Ts of Kevin Procter and Andy Scott, competition will be tight.
  And it will be tight in the two-wheel-drive category, too. Four-time KotH winner Roger Mayers (Toyota WR Starlet) and brother Barry (Fiesta), who has won twice, are the only previous winners likely to be at the sharp end of the fight, but Logan Watson (BMW M3) is in determined mood and Andrew Jones (Ford Escort MkII) can never be discounted.
  After the inaugural event in 2008 at Turners Hall in St Andrew, KotH moved venues, first to Stewarts Hill, then Sailor Gully in St Peter, before finding a more permanent home on Hangmans Hill in St Thomas, where it ran from 2011 to 2018, apart from 2013, when it moved to Luke Hill in St Lucy. After two years back at Stewarts Hill, then the 2021 event lost to the pandemic, KotH returned to a heavily revised course in St Thomas, ending in the Vaucluse Raceway, where 18-year-old FIA Formula 3 racer Zane Maloney became the youngest-ever winner and the first from the FIA R5 class.
  Jamaica's Jeff Panton has won a record four times, back-to-back between 2016, when he tied with Simon Jean-Joseph after a rain-affected final run, and 2019, with Roger Skeete a three-time winner (2009, '11 & '15). Paul Bourne (2008 & '10) and England's Paul Bird (2012 & '14) have each won twice and Dane Skeete (2022) once, while Neil Armstrong has the distinction of being the only driver to have won overall (2013) and also been Top 2wd (2011). Roger Mayers claimed his fifth 2wd win last year, while his brother Barry, Armstrong, Josh Read and Ian Warren have won twice each, with single victories claimed by Sean Gill and Rhett Watson.

Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for Sol RB23.

For media information only. No regulatory value.

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