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Skeete to face Sol heat

Trevor Thorpe

Skeete to face Sol heat

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Last year’s winners Roger “The Sheriff” Skeete and Louis Venezia can expect stiff competition in the 2011 Sol Rally Barbados which starts today at 9:30 a.m.
And the pair, who will be driving the One World Group/Michelin/Simpson Motors/Da Costa Mannings Auto Centre/Virgin Atlantic Subaru Impreza WRC S12, are seeded No.1 among an international field with crews from 14 nations for the start at Greenland Agricultural Station, St Andrew.
Veteran driver Skeete will be seeking his 12th victory in the event’s 21-year history but may get the sternest test of his career from a field of drivers which includes former British national rally champion England’s Paul Bird and Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick in the Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC08.
Other favoured contenders are Paul “The Surfer” Bourne and new co-driver Ronald Plant in the Banks/Chefette/MQI/Castrol Ford Focus WRC07, and 2006 winners Jamaicans Gary “The Colonel” Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson in the BD Gregg and Bros Ford Focus WRC05.
From the opening four-kilometre Field Insurance Pickerings stage in St Lucy, the gruelling rally, with the Sol Aviation Super Special at Bushy Park tomorrow, will be settled for the first time under floodlights.
Competitors will face 24 special stages and a total stage distance of a little under 120 kilometres.
Behind Skeete and Venezia on the start line will be leading overseas challenger Bird and Riddick, then Bourne and Plant, ahead of two more strong overseas challengers, last year’s Group N winners England’s Rob Swann and Jamaicans Gregg and Hutchinson.
Sean Gill and Michael Cummins, who won Super Specials in Jamaica last year and Trinidad in April, are in at No. 6 in the Simpson Motors/Shell V-Power/Automotive Art/Chefette Suzuki SX4 WRC.
Roger “The Ninja” Hill and Graham Gittens, in the Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC, will start at No.7 ahead of Trinidad’s John Powell and Michael March of Jamaica in the Intercontinental Shipping Ltd Subaru Impreza WRC S12.
The final seedings, which were based on the results of last Sunday’s Shell V-Power King of the Hill, sees the pair of Neil Armstrong and Barry Ward, in the Lubriguard Oils/Hankook Tyres/Nassco Toyota Starlet, starting at No. 9 and the Mayers brothers, Roger and Barry, in the Chefette/Digicel/Delaware Dispensary/Illusion Graphics/Quality Tyre Toyota Starlet, starting at No. 10.
In addition to the battle for overall supremacy, there are no fewer than 16 separate class battles to be fought out, most of which will involve Barbadian competitors pitting their skills against either regional or international entries.
After today’s action, the starting list will be reseeded for the 9:30 a.m. start tomorrow.