Following their victory in last Sunday’s Flow King of the Hill, Sol Rally Barbados 2019 winners Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew have been seeded at number one for the 31st running of the BRC’s premier event in their Subaru Impreza WRC S12 this weekend.
They will leave the start at Sol Charnocks shortly after 10 a.m., followed by five-time winner Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Mike Fennell Jnr (Ford Fiesta WRC) and the leading European crew of recent years, Britain’s Rob Swann and Darren Garrod (Fiesta WRC).
Fourth overall last weekend and winners of FIA R5, Stuart Maloney and Kristian Yearwood (Fabia) start at four, ahead of fellow R5 runners Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Skoda Fabia), with Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino at number six in the Fiesta Rally2.
Highest-placed two-wheel drive (2wd) last weekend, Barry Mayers and Ben Norris (Ford Fiesta), start at seven, ahead of R5 crews Andrew Mallalieu/Geoff Goddard (Ford Fiesta) and Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho, with Bajan co-driver Barry Ward in the Ford Fiesta. Second in 2wd at King of the Hill, Andrew Jones and Lindsey Pilkington (Ford Escort MkII) complete the top 10.
American motorsport star Block said he was looking forward to this weekend’s event, one in which he has wanted to participate for years. Block and long-term co-driver 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 date changes around the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic changed their plans. They will now campaign a brand-new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 among the record entry of seven in the island’s fast-growing FIA R5 class, with support from Ford Performance and Monster Energy.
With around six million followers on each of Facebook and Instagram, Block is one of the most-recognised names in global motorsport, 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. He has already been posting images and clips of his time in the island, a catamaran trip and swimming with turtles among the local attractions he has enjoyed. And the fans have been joining in, too, welcoming him back.
Sol RB20 is not Block’s first visit to compete in Barbados, following his earlier appearances in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series at Bushy Park and he is hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself. “Even though I was very quick here (especially in 2014), I have never had a good result. In fact, I have had two wildly bad crashes because of some strange circumstances – so, I am hoping that I can shake that bad-luck curse this weekend in Sol Rally Barbados,” he said.
Block will participate in a socially-distanced meet and greet and autograph session with fans at Automotive Art, Welches, tomorrow evening between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sol Rally Barbados 2020 will feature a total of 19 stages, passing through all but one of the island’s parishes; a radical rethink of the route and a move away from the tradition of Saturday stages in the north and Sunday’s in the south-east will offer competitors an exciting new challenge, including the longest special stage in recent memory – Automotive Art Halton to Drax Hall at 8.1 kilometres – traditionally a Sunday stage, now running three times on Saturday. After around 100kms of timed stages, the rally will finish with a 2.0km SuperSpecial ending in the Vaucluse Raceway, although Government Covid protocols mean it will be closed to spectators.
Covid Protocols were much in evidence at Flow King of the Hill last Sunday and the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) once again urges all stakeholders to Stay Safe, Stay Sanitized, Stay Distanced, Stay Masked, Stay Alert & Spectate Safely. (RB)