Britain’s Rob Swann, who finished second in Sol Rally Barbados 2014, is already well advanced in his preparations for next year’s 25th Anniversary running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. Sol RB15, for which on-line entries are open on the official web site – - will run on Saturday and Sunday, May 30/31, with Scrutineering and Scotiabank King of the Hill the previous weekend, May 23/24.
  With regular Welsh co-driver, Darren Garrod, Swann drove his Waves Hotel and Spa Barbados/Terra Caribbean/Cygnet Plant Ltd Subaru Impreza WRC S11 to his best overall finish since his 2008 debut, 25 seconds adrift of 13-time winner Roger Skeete (Impreza S12) and roughly the same margin ahead of third-placed John Powell of Trinidad, competing for the first time is his recently-acquired Ford Focus WRC08.
  Swann’s best previous finish had been fifth, in a rented Impreza S12 in 2011, his first appearance in Barbados in a World Rally Car, having won Group N and finished ninth overall the previous year in an Impreza N14; the same year, he won Group N in Rally Jamaica, the first – and so far only – driver to do the double in the same year.
  Looking back on this year’s result, Swann says: “RB14 was just fantastic. I had my sights on a podium, so to be pushing for a win on day two and finally taking second was   a great result. It was a credit to Darren on the notes, to everyone involved in the team, and of course to the family for their terrific support.”
  Since the car was shipped home to the UK, Swann has returned to the Rally of Flanders in Belgium, where he had enjoyed his first outing in his ex-Petter Solberg Impreza last year, although this time he recorded a non-finish, retiring part-way through day one with a damaged steering rack.
  Swann added: “I am still finding things to adapt on the car, and had certainly learnt a lot over the two days in Barbados, so it is always good to get out again and give things a try. We were right on the pace in the early stages, consistently in the top six . . . and we had a stage win against the likes of Freddy Loix, Pieter Tjsojen and Kris Princen, all former Belgian or European Champions, so we know we are on the right track.”
  Swann will now switch to gravel events, the JLT Tempest Rally on Saturday, November 8, which he won for the first time last year, followed by the SA Gas Premier Rally two weeks later, at which he become the first driver in its 30-year history to claim a hat-trick of wins in 2013. Swann says: “We will then have a big winter prep and convert the car back to Tarmac spec ready for 2015. My main focus for the early part of the year will be Tarmac leading up to RB15 . . . and then looking to improve on this year’s result!”
  When he’s not driving the rally car, Swann has other ways to work on his fitness: “I’m keeping up to speed in any way I can. I’ve just achieved my best result of eighth in the Solo Quad class at the Weston Beach Race, a three-hour enduro, and I then have the Weymouth Beach Race to help with fitness levels between the two gravel rallies”.
Worldwide TV exposure driving International entries
GreenlightTV’s annual broadcast coverage of Sol Rally Barbados 2014 has already been proving a powerful driver for International entries in advance next year’s 25th Anniversary running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. Through its regular programmes such as Max Power, the Isle of Man-based production company’s coverage reaches more than 650 million households worldwide, through more than 30 major networks, including ESPN, Speed and Star Sports.
  While the coverage is spread over many months, dependent on schedules, Sky Sports aired this year’s programme in the UK and Ireland, two of the events key markets, in the first few days of October, coinciding with entries for Sol RB15 opening on-line on the official web site – . . . and that has helped create a unexpected surge in early entries.
  Neil Barnard, PRO of the BRC, said: "While the timing was not planned, it would appear that the coincidence has certainly borne fruit: we already have nearly 40 entries for next year, all but one from overseas . . . and 10 of those are new, some having already told us that the TV coverage was just the extra incentive needed to place an entry.”
Sol Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which was founded in 1957; Sol RB15 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and the eighth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.
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