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Sol Rally Barbados has attracted more than 40 overseas entries for the fourth straight year, maintaining its global reputation as a ‘must-do’ event for crews across the world. The provisional entry list of 93 crews was confirmed at today’s (Wednesday) Media Briefing at Mahogany Ridge, St James, along with a number of changes to the event’s format, which organisers believe will create a stern test of skill and endurance for the 29th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event on June 1 to 3.

There is a new location for the Ceremonial Start – crews will drive straight from the presentation ramp into the event’s first competitive stage at the Vaucluse Raceway in St Thomas – while there has been a significant refresh of the route. Saturday will be longer than in the recent past, with 13 special stages, including a night-time loop of four tests in the north of the island, while slightly longer Sunday stages in the east will lead to the final stage, timed for inclusion in the results, and after-party at Bushy Park Barbados.

Title sponsor since 2008, Sol was represented today by General Manager (Barbados), Ezra Prescod, who said: “It has been our greatest pleasure to have been the title sponsor for 11 exciting years and we are forever appreciative of the Barbados Rally Club for giving us the opportunity to play our part in such a major way.”

The Rally Show on Saturday, May 26, has also moved to a new home, in the expansive grounds of the former Banks Facility at Wildey, St Michael; it will start an hour earlier than before, at 1.00pm, offering fans unrivalled opportunities to meet 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 Hangman’s Hill, St Thomas, with four official timed runs; as usual, the results will be used to seed the running order for Sol Rally Barbados, but KotH will take on greater significance for local competitors, as it was confirmed today that it will also be the first round of the new stand-alone BRC Flow SuperSprint Series, with two further events to follow during the year.

Alan Harris, Flow’s Communications Manager, said: “From a sponsor’s perspective, we are extremely pleased with the rapid growth of the event, especially as it will now play a key role in the new Barbados Rally Club Flow SuperSprint Series, of which we are delighted to be title sponsor.”

Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard told the Media Briefing: “The crews will need to be on it from the start. At Vaucluse, cars will run in reverse order of seeding, side-by-side in pairs, for two laps of the RallySprint track, a distance of 5.80kms. It is a challenging start to the event, as was demonstrated during last year’s BRC Winter Rally, and requires real concentration.

“Proper’ night stages are back! On Saturday night, a four-stage loop after the dinner halt will use two stage venues that are close together, so should run quickly and efficiently. With slightly longer stages, the final day looks set to be more challenging than in the recent past, with the contrast between Saturday’s short and bumpier stages and Sunday’s long and faster stages even more pronounced than usual.”

Former winners Bird, Panton & Skeete head 93-car entry

Former UK National Rally Champion Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC08) returns after a two-year hiatus to face Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton (Focus WRC06), who completed a hat-trick of Sol RB wins last year, and island legend Roger Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B), 13-time winner of the BRC’s premier event. Between them, these three have won every event since Sol RB10, a run of success Britain’s Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) and Rob Swann (Impreza S12B) are hoping to bring to an end.

The 43-strong overseas entry is spread right through the field, local drivers facing regional or international competition – sometimes both – in all of the classifications. The second-highest influx of overseas 4wd cars in the event’s history, 20, has contributed to Group A being the best-subscribed class for the first time, with quantity matched by quality; Ryan Champion (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Tom Preston (Skoda Fabia R5) won the East African Classic Safari and the Wales Rally GB National event respectively last year, while Andy Scott makes it two R5s for the first time with his Fiesta.

Including the host nation, the entry lists participants from 13 countries, with 80 overseas drivers or co-drivers, 15 new to the event; for the second straight year, Sol Rally Barbados boasts a record number of female competitors (22, up from 18 in 2017), while there are cars from 17 manufacturers, Ford best-represented with 20, followed by BMW (19), Toyota (12) and Mitsubishi (10).

This year, there are three crews making the 28,000-kilometre round trip from New Zealand with their families and friends, to join competitors from Canada, Great Britain and the United States in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International. The Geest Line freighter Baltic Klipper set sail from the British south coast port of Dover last Sunday (May 6) for its voyage across the Atlantic.

Sol Rally Barbados (June 1-3) and Flow King of the Hill (May 27) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Title sponsors: The Sol Group and Flow. Major partners: Automotive Art, Banks, Chefette, Simpson Motors, Toyo Tires. Partners: Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line, Tourism Development Corporation. Associate sponsor: Stoute’s Car Rental

Special Stage Schedule

Times indicate Car 0 due

Friday, June 1
1830 Ceremonial Start, Vaucluse Raceway
1830 SS1 – Vaucluse Raceway (5.80km)

Saturday, June 2
1030 Restart – Greenland Agricultural Station
1045 SS2 – Spring Vale 1 (4.80km)
1110 SS3 – Automotive Art Hangman’s Hill 1 (6.30km)
1145 SS4 – Sailor Gully South 1 (4.30km)
1245 SS5 – Spring Vale 2 (4.80km)
1310 SS6 – Automotive Art Hangman’s Hill 2 (6.30km)
1345 SS7 – Sailor Gully South 2 (4.30km)

Service and lunch halt – Greenland Agricultural Station

1555 SS9 – Automotive Art Hangman’s Hill 3 (6.30km)
1630 SS10 – Sailor Gully South 3 (4.30km)

Dinner halt – Greenland Agricultural Station

1835 SS11 – Pickerings 1 (4.60km)
1900 SS12 – Sailor Gully North 1 (4.30km)
1955 SS13 – Pickerings 2 (4.60km)
2020 SS14 – Sailor Gully North 2 (4.30km)

Total stage distance, leg 1 – 69.80km

Sunday, June 3
0930 Restart – Bushy Park Barbados
0945 SS15 – Toyo Tires Padmore 1 (5.60km)
1010 SS16 – Kendal 1 (7.00km)
1040 SS17 – Malvern 1 (6.20km)
1140 SS18 – Toyo Tires Padmore 2 (5.60km)
1205 SS19 – Kendal 2 (7.00km)
1235 SS20 – Malvern 2 (6.20km)

Service and lunch halt – Bushy Park Barbados

1415 SS21 – Toyo Tires Padmore 3 (5.60km)
1440 SS22 – Kendal 3 (7.00km)
1510 SS23 – Malvern 3 (6.20km)
1615 SS24 – Bushy Park Barbados (2.00km)

Total stage distance, leg 2 – 58.40km
Total overall stage distance – 128.20km

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