SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2019 DATES ANNOUNCED
Rally Club to mark premier event’s 30-year milestone
The Barbados Rally Club (BRC), which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017, will mark another important milestone in the Club’s distinguished history next year, with the 30th running of its premier event, known since 2008 as Sol Rally Barbados. The event has evolved from small beginnings as the International All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar.
Subject to final ratification by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), Sol RB19 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show (May 25) and Flow King of the Hill (May 26) the previous weekend. As has been the practice in the recent past, on-line entries will open on the official web site - www.rallybarbados.net – on October 1, which falls on a Monday in 2018, and close in early May next year.
BRC and Sol RB19 Chairman Mark Hamilton said: "Once again, the Barbados Rally Club and its membership will have cause to celebrate, along with our invaluable body of volunteers. It seems no time at all since we marked the Club’s 60th Anniversary and acknowledged the significant contributions made over many decades by four of our longest-standing members, Biddy Barber, John Corbin, John Sealy and Roger Skeete, with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
“Ahead of the 30th edition of our premier event, we intend to focus on those who have contributed to its steadily-growing impact, not only on the Club, but also the vital sports-tourism product of our island home. While many of those persons are local, we will also be looking at our overseas visitors, from the wider Caribbean and further afield, whose contribution has helped to create the ‘must do’ bucket-list status that Sol Rally Barbados enjoys among rally crews worldwide.”
The International All-Stage Rally in July 1990 had not quite lived up to its name, as shipping problems prevented the arrival of cars from Martinique, so Britain’s Kevin Furber was the only overseas entry among the 35, appropriate given the very grey and drizzly British weather . . . and even he was ‘just’ the Zero Car, co-driven by a future multiple winner of the event as co-driver to Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete, ex-pat Brit Dave Crawford. The total elapsed time of just over 16 minutes recorded by 1990 event winners Skeete and wife Charmaine reflects the short, sharp nature of the stages.
In 1991, the BRC became affiliated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of motor sport, which enabled wider participation in island events by international drivers, almost 500 of whom have since been hosted by the Club. Following its steady growth over the past three decades, the event now contributes around Bds $4 million to the economy each year, much of it in valuable foreign exchange, and accounts for as many as 4,000 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time in the tourism calendar.
The 78 overseas participants in Sol RB18, of whom 16 were new to the event, came from 12 countries and there was a record number of female competitors, for the second year in a row, rising from 18 in 2017 to 23. Adding the 2018 statistics to those of previous years, the event has now hosted almost 500 overseas participants from 29 countries. The biggest competitor base remains the UK and Ireland, but competitors have come from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.
Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton and co-driver Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus WRC06) claimed a fourth consecutive win on Sol RB18, ahead of Britain’s Rob Swann/Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) and Paul Bird/Jack Morton (Focus WRC08). With fellow UK entrants Kevin Procter and Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta) completing only the fourth overseas clean sweep of the top four in the event’s 29-year history, the highest-placed local crew, Barry Mayers and Ben Norris (Ford Fiesta), was also the top 2wd finisher for the first time in 10 years.
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 24 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport & Works; the previous Sunday’s Flow King of the Hill ‘shakedown’, run under a similar arrangement, features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for the main event.
Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB19 marks the 12th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fourth by communications provider Flow.