The organisers of Sol Rally Barbados today confirmed Ken Block’s participation in this year’s event, postponed from June until October 31/November 1 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With around six million followers on each of Facebook and Instagram, Block is one of the most-recognised names in global motor sport, with a huge boost in coverage promised for the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event as the island struggles to rebuild its tourism industry.
Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino were originally entered in the Hoonigan Racing Division’s reimagined 1990s Ford Escort Cosworth – ‘CossieV2’ – as part of the second Cossie World Tour but will now campaign a brand-new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2. The car, which is currently in build at M-Sport, will have its first competitive outing with Block in the island’s fast-growing FIA R5 class, with support from Ford Performance and Monster Energy.
Barbados Rally Club Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “We were excited when Ken’s team approached us last year with a project which could bring huge exposure for our event and the island, a feeling shared by our private and public sector partners. We thought the coronavirus pandemic might ruin the deal, but here we are – the Barbados Rally Club and the island, where everyone in the tourism industry is working towards recovery, are delighted that Ken and his organisation are still keen to come, as it will give us massively valuable coverage. I must thank Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, the Tourism Development Corporation, Automotive Art and Blue Sky Luxury for their support.”
Sol Rally Barbados 2020 will run over the weekend of October 31/November 1, with the prizegiving on the Sunday evening. The tarmac event will cover around 100 competitive kilometres on closed public roads, with three loops of three special stages each day, visiting nearly all of the island’s 12 parishes. The previous Saturday, Bushy Park will play host to scrutineering, while King of the Hill on the Sunday will return to Stewarts Hill, running on a similar course to last year and once again the basis for seeding the main event.
Gelsomino first sat with Block part-way through his first full season in rallying, when he was Rookie of the Year in the 2005 Rally America Championship, since when they have contested more than 120 events together. Twenty-two victories and a further 16 podium finishes are testament to the success of their partnership. Sol RB20 will not be Block’s first visit to compete in Barbados, after his earlier appearances in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series at Bushy Park and his memorable ‘race’ around the 2.01-kilometre International Circuit during the 2014 Top Gear Festival when he pitched his Ford Fiesta Rallycross Supercar against Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. (RB)