The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is targetting the 30th running of its premier event very firmly at the island’s huge spectator base, a key component in the sport’s growth in recent years. As the provisional entry list of 100 crews – the most since Sol Rally Barbados 2012 – was confirmed at today’s media briefing at Mahogany Ridge, St James, the organising team made it clear that this year’s event was “one for the fans”.
Rally director Neil Barnard said that from the start of the planning for this 30th running of the event, there were some key elements they wanted to include, which would take the fans back to the early days, then bring them right up to the present day.
“We’ve included a number of the most popular viewing spots, the Duck Pond at Kendal, the Malvern Wall, the 90 at Vaucluse . . . and then a SuperSpecial Finish inside the Vaucluse Raceway. But more than that, thanks to the support of our title sponsor Sol and the promotion being launched today, thousands of fans will have a fantastic opportunity to enjoy our brand new Friday night stages at Bushy Park Barbados,” Barnard said.
Title sponsor since 2008, Sol was represented today by general manager (Barbados), Ezra Prescod, who said: “As the Barbados Rally Club celebrates a dazzling 30 years of staging this event, we are in awe of the strides the club has made and congratulate them for their dedication, hard work and of course, passion.”
Confirming the promotion, which starts next Monday, May 13, Prescod added: “We are always keen to encourage spectators to support the start of the event, and this is our way of giving back to the fans.” Customers who spend $10 or more in fuel at any of Sol’s 13 service stations or in the convenience store will receive a ticket to Bushy Park for the Friday night stage, with a maximum of two tickets per spend. General admission tickets on the day are priced at $10, with Clubhouse tickets at $20.
The Rally Show on Saturday, May 25, returns to the former Banks Facility at Wildey, St Michael, where last year’s expanded event proved a big hit with island fans and visitors alike. Once again, fans will enjoy unrivalled access to local, regional and international competitors, with entertainment for all the family, driver interviews on the main stage and a mega autograph signing session.
Flow King of the Hill on the Sunday returns to Stewart’s Hill in St Philip, with four official timed runs over the 4.5-kilometre course, the results used to seed the running order for Sol Rally Barbados 2019. After the first event in 2008 at Turners Hall in St Andrew, King of the Hill moved venues, first to Stewart’s Hill, then Sailor Gully in St Peter, before finding a more permanent home on Hangmans Hill in St Thomas, where it has run every year since 2011, apart from 2013, when it moved to Luke Hill in St Lucy.
Marilyn Sealy, Flow’s senior manager – Communications, Southern Cluster, said that as they looked forward to the 30th edition of the Caribbean’s largest annual motor sport International, Flow was especially pleased to be back in the driver’s seat for Flow King of the Hill – the always exciting precursor to Sol Rally Barbados.
Jeffrey Panton (Focus WRC06), who clocked up his fourth back-to-back Sol Rally Barbados win last year, heads the 100-strong provisional entry list, which features more than 40 overseas entries for the fifth consecutive year.
Britain’s Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) and Rob Swann (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) are eager to bring the Jamaican’s run to an end, while island fans will be rooting for Dane Skeete, now driving the Impreza S12B in which his father claimed the last three of his record 13 wins in the BRC’s premier event.
The overseas entry is spread right through the field, local drivers facing regional or international competition – sometimes both – in all but two of the classes. More than 30 cars left the British south coast port of Dover last Sunday aboard the Geest Line freighter Baltic Klipper. Including the host nation, the entry lists includes participants from 14 countries, with 80 overseas drivers or co-drivers, 19 new to the event. There is a record-equalling number of female competitors (22) and cars from 16 manufacturers, BMW best-represented with 24, followed by Ford (22), Toyota (13) and Mitsubishi (8).