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Former Trinidad & Tobago kart and circuit racing Champion David Coelho is the first regional entry to be confirmed for Sol Rally Barbados 2018. His Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX brings to eight the number of four-wheel-drive cars so far listed, with more than 20 expected to appear on the final entry for the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International.

The 29th edition of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, Sol RB18 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 1-3, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill on May 26/27. Since entries opened on the official web site – – on October 1, approaching 60 have been posted, with record interest from overseas.

Coelho has a mixed history in Sol RB, which he has missed only once since 2010; while he has never failed to finish the previous weekend’s King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event, he has only finished the main event on two occasions. He finally put four years of disappointing DNFs behind him in 2015, when he and regular co-driver, T&T-based Brit James Harris, finished third in Group N (18th overall) in the former Geoff Noel Evo IX.

The same year, he won the BRC GpN title, when he tackled all but one of the season’s events. A second top 20 finish followed in 2016, when he finished second in GpN (17th overall), but last year he moved back up to Group A, having shipped in the Evo IX he previously campaigned in the island in WRC-1. The move was not a success: despite claiming his best KotH result – 14th, second in Group A – he did not make it past stage three in Sol RB17. He was 27th overall after Friday’s night’s two stages in the north of the island, then climbed to 19th overall after clocking the fastest Group A time – 11th overall in some very quick company – on Saturday’s opening stage, he was, only for the engine to let go, leaving him side-lined for the rest of the weekend.

A former T&T karting and one-make saloon car circuit-racing champion, Coelho’s first season in rallying was 2010 and Sol RB10 his first event away from home, when a blown engine brought things to an abrupt end; after an accident the following year, he was missing in 2012, before returning in 2013, the year of his best-ever domestic season – second in class and third overall in the eight-round Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club (TTRC) Championship. Failure of a gearbox mount resulted in another dnf, followed by a similar result in 2014. At the time, Coelho said: “Whenever we have these issues, we make the best of it. We love the event, everything about it and plan to keep coming back.”

In recent years, Coelho has returned to circuit racing; he has been a regular at Bushy Park Barbados in the recently-concluded Suzuki Challenge Series SR3 Cup, racing a Radical sports car, and also represented T&T, along with Franklyn Boodram, in the Race Of Champions Caribbean at the St Philip facility in December 2014.

Vice-President Sealy retires from Barbados Motoring Federation

Long-standing Vice-President of the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) John Sealy, a familiar face to hundreds of overseas visitors to Sol Rally Barbados in recent years, has retired. In a heartfelt tribute to the former VP, BMF President Andrew Mallalieu acknowledged that “replacing John with just one person is impossible”, so there will be some changes in the BMF structure.

While Sealy has retired from his position as VP of the BMF, he remains President of the Barbados Automobile Association (BAA) and will continue to work in his private capacity as manager of the Federation’s insurance scheme. Mark Hamilton has been elected as BMF Vice-President for 2018.

Mallalieu says: “A transition is under way, as we seek the best structure for the BMF moving forward in our fast-developing motor sport environment. The committee has recognised that replacing John with just one person is impossible, so we have agreed to split the load that he was carrying by having Champions in the areas of competitor licences, event permits and training. John has been key in our training programmes and we are working with him on the plan for this year, which will be led by Mark Hamilton through the training committee Chairman Warren Gollop.

“It is difficult to find the right words to acknowledge the contribution John Sealy has made, not only during his time with the BMF, but also in his many years as an official of the Barbados Rally Club. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the determined way in which he worked on the complex insurance issues within our sport on the way to creating the environment in which we compete today.

“I am delighted to confirm that, through his Presidency of the Automobile Association, he will continue to push ahead with further initiatives in the Mobility field. This is an area in which his commitment earned the respect of our peers at the FIA, not only for John as an individual, but also for the BMF and for Barbados as an affiliated country.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marks the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the third by communications provider Flow.

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