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The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has confirmed a radical rethink of all former conventions in planning the route for the delayed Sol Rally Barbados 2020, changes made possible in part by the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Highlights of the two-day event will include the longest special stage in recent memory, a move away from the tradition of Saturday stages in the north of the island and Sunday’s in the south-east and a journey through all but one of the island’s parishes.

While details of the start and finish are yet to be finalised, as work continues to create the safest Covid-19 environment, the Club promises a challenging event. PRO Neil Barnard says: “The travel and quarantine restrictions around the pandemic have resulted in a reduced number of entries, which has allowed us to experiment in a way that would not have been possible with our usual full complement. The route passes through at least five parishes on both days, the timed stages total around 50 kilometres each day, and we are using some stage layouts that are either new or haven’t been used in nearly 20 years.”

Postponed from June as a result of the pandemic, Sol RB20 will run on October 31/November 1, with the Prizegiving on the Sunday evening. The previous weekend, Bushy Park will play host to Scrutineering on Saturday, while King of the Hill on Sunday will return to Stewarts Hill, running on a similar course to last year and once again the basis for seeding the main event.

The Service Park for Saturday will be Bushy Park, with the day’s route currently scheduled to start at 10.30am. The first stage will be the longest in recent years, a little over eight kilometres from Halton to Drax Hall in St George – Kendal last ran to a similar length in 2006 – followed by transit to St Andrew and a stage from Dark Hole to Spring Vale at around 4.5kms; a slightly shorter run from Wilson Hill to Malvern in St John will complete the three-stage loop, which will then be repeated twice again.

On Sunday, the Service Park will be at the Greenland Agricultural Station in St Andrew, with the restart scheduled for 9.30am. Once again, the stages will be linked in loops of three, starting with a roughly 4km run from Bawdens to Rock Hall in St Peter, which for 2020 has been extended from the start used for last year’s Shakedown Stages to allow for the inclusion of a spectacular jump not used in recent years.

Crews will then stay in St Peter for a 5km stage from French Village to Four Hills, taking in the popular switchback turns and elevations of Sailor Gully, before heading to the northernmost parish of St Lucy for the day’s longest test. From Lamberts, the 7km stage will head through Pickerings and on up to St Swithun’s Church in Mt Poyer, much as it did in Sol RB17. The end of Sunday is still a work in progress, but the day is planned to finish around 4.00pm, with the Prizegiving to follow once the results have been published and protest periods concluded.

Procter wins in UK, with island connections on podiums

British regulars Kevin Procter and co-driver Patrick Walsh, who looked set for a first Sol Rally Barbados podium last year until their Ford Fiesta’s gearbox failed on Saturday evening, won last Sunday’s (September 13) Rex Pet Hotel Flying Fortress Stages in the UK. Running behind closed doors under strict Covid-19 rules, the event attracted more than 60 starters, with crews familiar to island fans filling seven of the top 20 places.

Procter led from the first of six stages, winning by one minute from the Fiesta R5 of Steve Finch and Sam Fordham, who finished 22nd overall and third in SuperModified 2 in Sol RB19 in Finch’s rapid Ford Escort MkII. Two other Barbados regulars claimed class podiums: Rob Brook was an impressive 10th overall and third in Class 3 in his Peugeot 205 GTi, co-driven by Cat Lund, while serial visitor Martin Stockdale and Mark Swallow were third in Class 4, 15th overall, in ‘Mad-Dale’s familiar BMW 1M Coupe.

Paul Rees and Emma Morrison finished 12th overall, fifth in class, in his Vauxhall Astra GTE, while two Ford Escort MkII crews completed the Barbados results, making for a 100 per cent finish rate: Stuart Tomlinson and Nick Taylor, who were part of the Stockdale-inspired Worksop & District Motor Club ‘invasion’ of the island in 2015, finished 16th, while Chris Shooter and Bev Le Good finished 18th on their Historic class MkII’s first outing since a ground-up rebuild.

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