The final countdown is well underway for Sol Rally Barbados 2014.
Competitors, their families and supporters have been arriving at the Grantley Adams International Airport daily since the weekend, with the cargo hold of two inbound Virgin Atlantic Airways flights each carrying a Ford Focus rally car, one for Trinidad’s John Powell and the other for Britain’s Paul Bird, who is aiming for a hat-trick of victories in this year’s event.
Early last Friday, the Geest Line freighter Agulhas Stream docked at the Bridgetown Port to off-load the bulk of the international entries, an operation which ran so smoothly that all 25 cars and three service barges were cleared from the Port by the end of the day and delivered to “rally central”, the secure workshop facility for overseas crews.
Sol Rally Barbados 2014 rally office manager Jeanne Crawford said that Friday’s operation in the Port went as smoothly as it possibly could.
“I have to thank the officers of Barbados Port Inc, the Barbados Customs & Excise Department and Seafreight Agencies for assisting with the offloading, clearance and delivery of the cars in one day.
“Thanks also to Rally Club members Dave Crawford, Sean Field, Graham Gittens and Jeremy Gonsalves for helping to manoeuvre cars around the Port, and to our wrecker drivers for their timely trips back and forth to ‘rally central’. I should not forget those officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport, who have facilitated the rapid clearance of our two cars this week. It is good to know that so many people in the island understand the importance of Sol Rally Barbados in the whole sports-tourism mix.”
Meanwhile RallyFM.net is once again stepping up the reach of its coverage of Sol Rally Barbados this year, with an additional output stream via Spreaker Radio internet radio. Listeners who follow rallyfm on Twitter will be notified each time a live broadcast starts or a recorded segment is available at http://www.spreaker.com/show/the_rallyfm_net_show. All live broadcasts are automatically recorded and added to the RallyFM.net show, so that fans can listen at a time that suits them.
RallyFM.net director Chris Morford, a familiar figure at Sol Rally Barbados, has broadcast news, interviews, live commentary and interim times since 2008. RallyFM.net’s offering has steadily increased, with the following options now available to rally fans worldwide. On a PC or laptop, go to www.rallyfm.net and click on “listen live”. Smart phone users can download the TuneIn Radio app and search for RallyFM – this app also offers access to a host of worldwide internet radio stations; to receive notification of live broadcasts and recorded segments, follow rallyfm on Twitter, which will also carry comprehensive news updates.
News on the track is that Kevin Procter’s regular co-driver Dave Bellerby now cannot make the trip. His replacement in the Subaru Impreza WRC S7 will be former single-seater racing driver Philip Hopkins, who is relatively new to rallying.
For Scotiabank King of the Hill only, Martin Stockdale will have daughter Laura-Jo in the co-driver’s seat, as Mark Swallow cannot make it until after the weekend. Now on his 14th consecutive trip, Britain’s Stockdale is the event’s most loyal supporter – Laura-Jo was not even in her teens when they first travelled to the island in 2001.
Having finished sixth in Rally Trinidad in his Ford Escort MkII with Jamaican co-driver Michael Fennell Jr., Ireland’s Frank Kelly will tackle Sol Rally Barbados with Trinidad’s Robert Cadiz, after his regular co-driver Liam Brennan had to pull out . . . which just means Kelly needs to find a Bajan co-driver should he ever do Rally Jamaica.
Owen Cumberbatch has Jan-Yves Hinds as co-driver in his BMW M3, after Shareef Walcott, with whom Hinds was originally entered, withdrew his Corolla.
Meanwhile Dwayne Forde will replace Arlington Hoyte as co-driver for Fabien Clarke in his Suzuki Ignis Sport, his original driver Duane Johnson having withdrawn his Mitsubishi Lancer.
Sol Rally Barbados comes off May 30 and June 1 with the King Of The Hill event slated for May 25.