SOL RALLY BARBADOS TARGETS TWO-WHEEL-DRIVES

The organisers of Sol Rally Barbados, the Caribbean’s biggest annual international motor sport event, are targetting the most exciting two-wheel-drive cars in Europe to compete in next year’s event, which will be staged over the weekend of June 4/5.   The Barbados Rally Club (BRC), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007, has enjoyed steady growth in its blue riband event, which has grown from a one-day rally for around 30 local competitors in 1990 into one of the strongest sporting brand names in the region and a major contributor to the island’s sports-tourism product.   In addition to a stepped scale of discounts for repeat visitors, which proved popular when it was introduced this year, the Club is offering a range of new incentives for 2011: these include trophies for the Top 10 two-wheel-drive cars, while the highest-placed overseas crews in front- and rear-wheel-drive cars will have their entry fees reimbursed.   Sol RB2011 Chairman Barry Gale says: “We decided to do something to more actively encourage the cars that go out of their way to excite spectators. Invariably, these are the two-wheel-drive monsters created through the fanaticism of competitors who are convinced that their Ford Escort/Peugeot 205/Toyota Starlet can be the fastest thing in a straight line . . . or, perhaps, the most sideways thing never to see a straight line.   “These are the cars that spark our crowds into delirious fits of revelry when they manage, somehow, to completely negotiate a corner without ever facing the direction they are travelling in. And these are the cars we want! Our two-wheel-drive awards have been expanded to include, for the first time, a Top 10 that is separate and distinct from the rest of the rally, and for which only two-wheel-drive cars are eligible.   “It is our hope that this potential for recognition will bring out the best on offer among those fanatics I’ve mentioned . . . not least for the fact that some serious bragging rights are at stake! In addition to the Top 10, the fastest overseas competitors in front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive will receive a refund of their entry fee. Simple, and immediately gratifying, this is designed to further encourage our overseas friends . . . gone are the days when only the WRC cars steal the limelight!” Overall entry cap raised to 100 to accommodate growing interest The announcement of entries opening on-line in mid-October encouraged an early flurry of interest, which suggests that once again the balance between local, regional and international entries will contribute to an interesting and hard-fought event. Overseas entries so far represent nearly half of those received, and already include competitors who will be competing in the island for the first time.   Gale is encouraged by this early response: “We have never opened entries so early in the past - as most people are probably not even aware that entries opened in October, and are planning to enter in January as usual, this certainly bodes well for the level of response we expect to get by April. Better than that, three-quarters of the entries we’ve received so far are two-wheel-drive, which supports our new initiative.”   Sol Rally Barbados 2010 was 20 per cent over-subscribed, a total of 118 entries received for what was this year the cap of a 90-strong starters list. With the chance of a similar situation arising again, the BRC has looked carefully at the structure of the event.   Gale: “As organisers, we have to plan for the number of competitors many months in advance. The logistics include the space available at Scrutineering and the service parks, the layout of the stages and transit routes, and the timing necessary to ensure that stages are not waiting too long for cars to return. Also, we are keen to make sure that each stage is not ‘quiet’ for too long, creating spectator restlessness, so reducing the quality of the show we are putting on.   “With that in mind, and given the unprecedented response to Sol Rally Barbados 2010, we have decided to raise the maximum entry to 100. This would still not accommodate all the interest from 2010, but we feel comfortable that this number of cars can be accommodated without requiring a major redesign of the route or service parks. Sol Rally Barbados (June 4/5, 2011) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 29) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB2011 is the 22nd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the start of a second three-year term of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company. For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com web site: www.rallybarbados.bb

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