Largest number of world-class cars in Caribbean
The Barbados Rally Club will celebrate the 25th running of its premier event in fine style with the largest field of World Rally Cars ever assembled in the Caribbean.
The provisional entry list of 93 crews for Sol Rally Barbados 2014 slated for May 30 and June 1 was confirmed today during a media briefing at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa at Rockley, Christ Church.
A record 14 cars are entered in the WRC classes, all but three of them former works entries, with multiple Trinidad rally champion John Powell’s entry confirmed today. He faces previous winners Roger Skeete and Paul Bourne of Barbados, Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and former United Kingdom national rally champion Paul Bird in the strongest field yet seen for the region’s biggest annual motor sport International. Bird has won the event for the past two years.
Powell joins Bird, Bourne and Panton in the Ford camp, returning to action with a Focus WRC08, while Skeete campaigns his Subaru Impreza WRC S12. The WRC-1 class is completed by Britain’s Rob Swann, now armed with an Impreza S11, and Barbados’ rising star Neil Armstrong, who won Rally Trinidad in March in the Suzuki SX4 WRC.
The first chance for fans to mix with local, regional and international competitors will be at Simpson Motors scrutineering on Saturday, May 24, with Scotiabank King Of The Hill the following day allowing visiting crews, particularly newcomers to the event, an opportunity to experience local tarmac at competition speed.
For the first time Sol Rally Barbados will start on Friday evening, with special stage 1 at the redeveloped Bushy Park Circuit in St Philip. Crews will have a chance to recce the stage during the afternoon, with the zero car due to kick off the action at 6:30 p.m. The Bushy Park Circuit will also be the venue for the Sunday finish, with a different configuration used to end the stage running through Padmore Village four times during the day.
Of the 25th running of the BRC’s blue riband event, rally chairman Mark Hamilton said: “I must thank all our sponsors, without whom the Barbados Rally Club would be seriously challenged to stage an event of this magnitude. We once again have a solid entry and are looking forward to a weekend of good, clean competition. Our aim year on year is to raise the bar and I am confident that we have achieved that again this year.”
Title sponsor since 2008, the region’s largest independent oil company, Sol, was represented today by Barbados country manager, Ezra Prescod.
“Sol is passionate about motor sport, and we are proud to be title sponsor for the seventh year. Every year, we are more excited to be involved and, as we mark the 25th running of this event, we salute the Barbados Rally Club and its many volunteer marshals and officials for their outstanding service to motor sport in the island,” Prescod stated.
Victor Boyce, director of the corporate and commercial business unit at Scotiabank, title sponsor of the King Of The Hill, expressed his company’s delight to be involved once again.
“We are pleased to be back. Scotiabank has a very active sponsorship programme, in sports and culture, with criteria on which we base our involvement. Community is very important to us, and motor sport brings out Barbadians of all ages, classes and creeds to join together in a real community event.”
Sol Rally Barbados 2014 will be contested over 23 special stages. After Friday’s spectacular opening, there will 12 stages on Saturday, the final loop of three run in darkness. A further 10 on Sunday bring the competitive mileage up to 128 kilometres, around 11 per cent longer than last year. While some venues are familiar, others are less so, as the BRC strives to create an ever more level playing field for local and overseas competitors.
“While I would never say we have it perfect, a real effort is made every year to make incremental changes, to not bite off more than we can chew, and to learn from our mistakes. One of the rally club’s biggest assets is that we are blessed, and have been for many years, with people that, when they take on a task, they don’t just touch it, they own it. That’s the way that things get done, and is a massive plus for the Club,” Hamilton said during a question and answer session.