Major changes to the route for Sol Rally Barbados 2017, including two night-time stages on Friday, June 2, within the longest event run since 2004, have been given the ‘thumbs up’ by two of the potential contenders for outright victory.
Thirteen-time winner Roger Skeete described the opening stages as “fantastic”, a view shared by regular British visitor Rob Swann, who finished second to Skeete in 2014.
With Saturday’s Rally Show at Simpson Motors and Flow King of the Hill on Sunday fast approaching, the clock is ticking ahead of Sol Rally Barbados 2017 (June 2-4), the 28th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s blue riband event. Rally Central at Bushy Park Barbados is already abuzz with overseas competitors, unpacking their cars and enjoying the chance for some testing on the 2.01-kilometre International Circuit.
The most successful driver in the event’s history, Skeete said: “It is obvious that someone has given lots of thought to the selection and the layout of the various stages. The stages are generally very good, except for a few bumpy spots. The new sections joining stages used in the past are an unknown, while the increased length will definitely be more challenging.”
Friday night’s two seven-kilometre stages run from Sailor Gully, a staple in Sol Rally Barbados in recent years, down Farley Hill, then through Diamond Corner and on toward Boscobel. “The Friday night stage is fantastic . . . however, it would have been perfect if it had been going to start at 8 p.m. My night vision is not what it used to be, so I will be trying to get through safely,” Skeete added.
Swann was even more enthusiastic. “The new route looks great and it’s always nice to see new stages. The stage lengths are improved as well, which is fantastic. Having proper stages on Friday night, instead of a Super Special, is something many competitors have asked for. It takes a lot of work to get the cars and crew out on Friday night, so having good mileage and stages is vital.
“The length of those stages and the dark will have a big impact on the rally going in to Saturday, as I think the gaps over those two stages could be the biggest of the rally for many crews. I am really looking forward to the two runs at night.”