Sport News

Champions gather for second R5 Rally Championship

New cars, new car-driver combinations, increased support for island charities and a revised points system are the headline changes ahead of the second season of the R5 Rally Championship, presented by First Citizens. Champions from Barbados, the wider Caribbean and further afield are assembling for the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Shakedown Stages on Sunday (April 23), this year’s first points-scoring round.
 A champion on racetrack and rally stage, newcomer Kyle Gregg from Jamaica joins fellow-countryman Jeff Panton on the entry list, Gregg with a new Ford Fiesta Rally2, while Panton has switched from the M-Sport brand to a new Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo; they have more than a dozen Rally Jamaica victories between them, while Panton was back-to-back Barbados Rally Club Champion Driver in 2017 and ‘18.
 Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Rally Team and the UK’s Rob Swann have also moved away from the Fiesta: Horton brings the first Citroen C3 Rally2 to compete in the island, while Swann will campaign the Fabia R5 in which 18-year-old Zane Maloney became the youngest winner of the BRC’s King of the Hill last year.
 Further interest is promised in the season’s marquee events, First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) and Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11). Visiting R5 drivers include the current leader of the European Rally Championship, New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon, and former British Rallycross Champion, Ireland’s Ollie O’Donovan, bringing a fourth manufacturer to the mix, each driving a Hyundai i20 R5, although guest drivers will not score points.
 Last year, the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) first-ever national championship was won by Stuart Maloney in a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, while Josh Read (Fiesta R5) got the nod in a tie-break with Roger Hill (Fabia R5) for second place, all three of whom return to action this year. Mark-Anthony Hinkson won the parallel E-Sports series, administered by Caribbean Sim Motorsport, which will continue into the new season.
 Maloney, Read and Hill are all former BRC Champion Drivers. All-rounder Maloney was also Caribbean Motor Racing Champion in 2008 and Radical Caribbean Cup Champion in 2018, while Read has won multiple class titles with the Rally Club and Hill’s record of 23 top 10 finishes in the island’s premier event is unlikely to be challenged.
 More local charities are set to benefit this year: in addition to the $5,000 donated by the title sponsors to the Champion’s nominated charity, the BMF has pledged additional sums of $1,000 and $500 to be presented to the charities nominated by the drivers who finish second and third. Inaugural Champion Maloney and the CEO of First Citizens Cheryl-Ann La Roche presented last year’s donation to Joanne Harrison representing the Because of Jenna Trust at the BMF Night of Champions last month.
 The points system has also been revised for season two, with particular emphasis paid to revising the structure for the feature event of the year, Sol Rally Barbados. Whereas one score of 60 points was on offer for the highest-placed registered R5 runner in Sol RB22, that total has now been divided as follows: 25 points each for the leading R5 after Day 1 and 2 (Friday’s opening stage is combined with Saturday’s action to make Day 1), with a bonus of 10 points for the overall R5 winner, eight for second and six for third, with four points for each remaining classified finisher.

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