On to Sol Rally

ROC Caribbean champions confirm Rally Barbados entries

Team Barbados duo Dane Skeete and Rhett Watson, fresh from their defeat of Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in last weekend’s inaugural Race Of Champions (ROC), have confirmed their entries for next year’s 25th Anniversary running of Sol Rally Barbados.

Before their triumph in Saturday’s ROC Caribbean at Bushy Park, St Philip, Skeete and Watson had faced motor sport champions from around the world in the Nations Cup, in which they progressed to the semi-finals. In the group stage, Skeete beat Australian motor-cycling legend Mick Doohan and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of the United States, while Watson saw off his USA teammate, the former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch.

Rhett Watson (left) and Dane Skeete, winners of ROC Caribbean.
Rhett Watson (left) and Dane Skeete, winners of ROC Caribbean.

In the semi-finals, while Skeete earned another feather in his cap by defeating Martini Williams Formula 1 reserve driver Susie Wolff, a strong performance by her Scottish teammate, multiple Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, carried them to the final. Although they were beaten by Team Nordic, comprising nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and 2014 FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, Coulthard went on to win the Champion Of Champions title in Sunday’s individual competition.

Looking back on the day, Skeete, whose father Roger has won the island’s premier event 13 times, said: “The best experience was doing the first race with dad in the car, as I had no idea he was coming. Beating Susie Wolff in the Audi R8 she is more familiar with was another highlight for sure.”

Watson added: “One word to describe it all is incredible. The highlight was beating Kurt Busch in the first race, then securing ROC Caribbean for Barbados with Dane.”

Sol Rally Barbados 2015 will run on May 30 and 31, with scrutineering and the King of the Hill shakedown event the previous weekend. More than 50 entries have already been received via the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, where the on-line entry list is shortly to go “live”.

Skeete, who will campaign his Peugeot 306 Maxi in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) SuperModified 11 class with co-driver Tyler Mayhew, and Watson (SM12 BMW M3) are certain to be among the front-runners in the battle for two-wheel-drive honours in Sol RB15, along with other local favourites, such as Roger Mayers and Josh Read in their Toyota Starlets.

In 2014, the promised battle hardly materialised, after Read missed Saturday’s fourth stage to resolve a brake problem, dropping out of the running for overall position, while Skeete (suspension) and Mayers (gearbox) also went missing, in all three cases when tThis left Watson in charge of two-wheel-drive .  .  . and he remained so to the end, eighth overall his best Sol Rally Barbados result as a driver, top two-wheel-drive, and with class wins on both days.

Watson went on to claim a hat-trick of BRC titles for the season, adding the coveted champion driver accolade to his SM12 class win and victory in the BRC two-wheel-drive championship, along with his new-for-2014 co-driver James Hutchinson. Skeete saw little action in the second half of the domestic season, apart from the two Suzuki Rocks events, which decided Team Barbados for ROC Caribbean, as he returned to continue his education abroad.

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