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Since the first European competitors arrived in the island earlier this week to be reunited with rally cars they last saw at the UK port of Dover in early May, the final countdown to Sol Rally Barbados 2019 is in full swing. With the Rally Show this Saturday (May 25) launching 10 days of intense activity, the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) preparations have changed into high gear; Flow King of the Hill follows on Sunday at its new home at Stewart’s Hill, St Philip, with the 30th running of the BRC’s blue riband event, Sol RB19, from Friday to Sunday, May 31 to June 2.

The arrivals hall at the Grantley Adams International Airport is a blaze of colour each afternoon, as overseas crews, their families and friends alight from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick or Manchester airports, already wearing their team T-shirts. Daily passenger arrivals look set to carry the number of visitors past 400, those from Europe and the wider Caribbean joined by long-haul travellers from as far afield as New Zealand and North America.

All but one of the 44 overseas cars entered in the region’s biggest annual motor sport International are now in the island; unfortunately, the Peugeot 106 Maxi to be campaigned by Kiwi driver Nick Marshall has been delayed in Jamaica due to congestion issues, so will not make it in time for Flow KotH. While Marshall will therefore have to watch from the sidelines, his British co-driver Declan Dear will sit with Stuart Deeley in his Group N Toyota Celica GT4, as Deeley’s own co-driver Gareth Parry will not arrive in the island until next Monday after completing his final University exams.

While the competitors head off to unpack their cars, either at Rally Central at Bushy Park Barbados or in workshops shared with local competitors, the organisers have been hard at work making the final preparations. For the last two weekends, Club officials and volunteers have been delivering Residents Letters, by hand, to every household along the roughly 40 kilometres of island roads on which the Special Stages will be run.

BRC Vice-Chairman Neil Corbin said: “The Residents Letter distribution is an important Club activity, which we have enhanced in recent years to create a positive relationship between those who live along the route and Club members. Taking the time to interact personally and explain some of the benefits the event brings to the island, along with the efforts we make to limit any inconvenience, goes a long way to ensuring that we can continue to use our current stages and potentially look at new stages for the future.

“Our Competition Secretary Kreigg Yearwood covered a couple of the northern stages himself, and I would also thank the following volunteers who came out and helped over the two weekends: Johnathan Alleyne, Wayne Archer, Nicolette Campbell, Eddie and Wayne Corbin, Andy Croney, Derek Edwards, Graham Gittens, Roger Hill, Mark Kinch, Trevor Manning, Corey Reece, Matthew Staffner, Barry Ward and Logan Watson.”

After dealing with those local cars which had not already been checked ahead of last month’s BRC Shakedown Stages on Monday and Tuesday, Scrutineering sessions for the International entries will be held this evening (Wednesday) and tomorrow evening, with the final handful of overseas cars to be checked on Saturday morning. The BRC will mark the 30th running of it premier event with a party on Friday evening (May 24) at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association Clubhouse at Searles, Christ Church.

Rally Central comes alive at Bushy Park

‘Rally Central’ at Bushy Park Barbados is also now coming alive, as the rally cars and service barges which arrived at the Bridgetown Port on the Geest Line freighter Baltic Klipper last week were transported to the St Philip facility on Monday and Tuesday. As before, the cars are housed in the pit garages, but with new infrastructure and fencing built around them for increased security and as next Friday’s (May 31) three opening stages will pass close by on both sides. The Rally Office is now operating from the circuit office complex.

Volunteers from the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), led by Sol RB Rally Office Manager Jeanne Crawford, assisted Bridgetown Port and Customs personnel to off-load the prized cargo last week, after which Crawford said: “Thanks, as ever, to our helpers, Dave Crawford, Derek Edwards, Graham Gittens, Jeremy Gonsalves, Roger Hill, Clive Howell and Barry Mayers, also the wrecker drivers Kirtis Prescod, ‘Soldierman’ Batson, Alvin Nurse and Owen Cumberbatch. We must also thank the Ministry of Finance, Barbados Port Inc, Barbados Customs & Excise Department, our broker Codgies Customs Services, Bunny Edghill and the staff of both Customs and Barbados Port Inc in Shed 4.”

Sol Rally Barbados (May 31-June 2) and Flow King of the Hill (May 26) 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, Sagicor and Simpson Motors. Partners: Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line, MQI, R L Seale & Co Ltd, Stoute’s Car Rental and the Tourism Development Corporation

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