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Rally Barbados - 1-3 Jun 18

Posted: May 31, 2018 4:28 AM - 2284 Hits


Posted: May 31, 2018 4:28 AM

With victory in yesterday’s (Sunday) Flow King of the Hill, Jamaica’s Jeff Panton has joined island legend Roger Skeete as a three-time winner of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) annual Sol Rally Barbados shakedown. Adding back-to-back KotH wins to last year’s Sol RB hat-trick, Panton and co-driver Mike Fennell (Rubis/Sandals Barbados/KIG Ford Focus WRC06) have re-written the record books once again.

Returning after a two-year absence, England’s Paul Bird – he won KotH in 2012 & ’14 - pushed Panton hard, falling short by only six-tenths, on a day of close battles throughout the near-record field. Panton said:
“I was a bit shaky in the beginning and had a spin early on. On the third and fourth runs we pushed really hard, because Bird was going very good and it feels like I have a target on my back. There's a lot of pressure, but we will rise to the challenge and do our best; win, lose or draw, we enjoy the competition.”

England’s Rob Swann and Kevin Procter were third and fifth respectively, with Skeete the highest-placed local driver in fourth and Roger Hill sixth, winning WRC-2. After a battle that lasted all day, fellow-Brit Tom Preston finished seventh, beating Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) to the Group A title by just a quarter of a second. Preston said:
“We are familiar with the pace of guys like Kevin Procter in the UK, so wanted to see how we compared to them here, where they have years of experience; we are satisfied with how we did today.”

Until the final run of the day, with such a strong 4wd entry, it seemed there might be no 2wd cars in the top 10 since the first KotH in 2008; on the final run, however, Barry Mayers and Dane Skeete broke the barrier, finishing ninth and 10th. Mayers said:
“After fighting over a year-and-a-half with the car's handling, we are getting much closer.” Nearly a quarter of the 88 crews who started failed to finish at least one run, leaving many with work to do ahead of Sol RB18 next weekend.

After last year’s rain-affected event, there was only a brief shower an hour before the field started the first run through the 4.3kms course; huge crowds gathered inside the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) in St Thomas, with hundreds more lining other popular spots on Hangman’s Hill, at Dukes and Lion Castle. Ryan Wood (BMW 318ti Compact) and Trevor Manning (Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo) warmed the crowd up in Zero Car mode ahead of the field, which ran in reverse order of seeding, from Clubman up to WRC-1.

With new co-driver Jack Morton, Bird (Frank Bird Poultry/Be Wiser Insurance/Hager/Fuchs Titan Race/Loco Energy Drink Ford Focus WRC08) was quickest on the first run, clocking 2m 48.64s, eight-tenths faster than Kevin Procter and Andrew Roughead (Procters Coaches Ford Fiesta), followed by the Subaru Impreza WRC S12Bs of Swann and Darren Garrod (Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant) and Skeete and Louis Venezia (Sol/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors/Flow).

Roger Mayers and Jason Parkinson (Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/Hankook/DHL/ Illusion Graphics Toyota WR Starlet) were fifth and top 2wd, around 5secs off the Subarus, but were not seen again, after mechanical issues intervened. Preston and Karl Williamson were sixth in the Hippo Motor Group Skoda Fabia R5, with Panton and Fennell 10th, more than 10secs adrift of Bird after an overshoot and spin as they exited VRW.

A determined Panton set a new target of 2:45.13 on run two, more than 1sec faster than last year’s winning time, with Swann finding another 3secs or so for second (2:46.79), as Procter slipped to third, despite also improving (2:48.14). This time ‘Birdy’ tripped up, clipping a rock, 13th overall, his best time now 3.5secs down on Panton’s.

Both Focus drivers pushed hard on the third run and, although Bird improved his time by an impressive 4.3secs, Panton found another 1.4sec to remain ahead, albeit by only six-tenths. There were solid improvements also for Swann and Skeete, while Procter slipped to fifth and Hill (Esso/Nassco/MaxMeyer/MotorMac/Pennzoil/Energizer/Refresh your Car/California Scents Toyota Corolla WRC) and Graham Gittens improved to sixth. And that is how it ended, despite a further six-tenths chopped off Swann’s time.

Roger Mayers was not the only potential 2wd front-runner in trouble early. Daryl Clarke (Automotive Art/Flow/Amir’s Chicken/MQI Collision Repair/eCarib Classifieds Honda Civic) ran off the road on Hangman’s Hill on the first run, when he lost steering after a front suspension collapse; with help from spectators and a wrecker unit, the car was returned to service for repairs. And Barry Mayers missed one run sorting a fuel leak on the Chefette/Rubis/Digicel/Hankook/DHL/Illusion Graphics Ford Fiesta, then finished nearly last on run three, when a piece of grass pulled the external kill switch.

So, 2wd honours looked set to be settled between Dane Skeete (Sol/Automotive Art Peugeot 306 Maxi) and last year’s winner Rhett Watson (Chefette/Stihl/Gliptone/Leafy Organics/Gunk/Hankook/Bajan Pure Water/It’s Barbados/Power King Batteries, in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3) . . . but the story wasn’t over yet! Skeete led 2wd after the second run, Watson after the third, with just four-tenths between the two; Barry Mayers was another couple of seconds adrift, ahead of Andrew Jones and Clarke, who had made it back out for the third run, all three within a second of one another.

While Skeete found another 2.4secs on his final run, a big push by Mayers leap-frogged the rear-drive Fiesta over the front-drive Peugeot for his first KotH 2wd title and the SuperModified 2 win by the smallest margin of the day . . . just nine-hundredths. Clarke improved as well, to finish third, but the Civic’s second suspension failure, just after the stage finish, resulted in damage to the timing equipment, a delay while it was sorted out, then an extra run for a handful of drivers who had not received a time.

Among those was Watson: “On our fourth run, which our hand timing says would have made us fastest 2wd, there was no official time. On the re-run, we broke a back left arm just after exiting Vaucluse and had to back off.” Not only did he lose out on a possible 2wd victory, but also saw his five straight years of class wins come to an end, as Andrew Jones (Lucozade/Caribbean Powder Coating/Southern Surf Beach Apartments/AP Jones Pharmacy Ford Escort MkII) claimed his first KotH title since Group B in 2012.

While the smallest margin of victory had once again been in SM2 (last year Skeete was beaten by Roger Mayers by just 0.39sec), there were also narrow victories in Modified 2, where Jamal Brathwaite (Valvoline/Automotive Art/Consumers Guarantee Insurance/Caribbean Auto Glass/Stylez Auto Spa/Pirelli Honda Civic Type-R) beat Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Islands (Arbikie Highland Estate/Java Island/Sky Motorsports/H Racing Citroen DS 3 R3 MAX), by 01.49s; and GpN, where the English all-girl crew of Shelly Taunt and Julie Murphy (Infinity on the Beach/ASF Sign Factory/Darren Dixen/Combined Scaffolding/Jim Griffiths Car & Body Repairs/Julie Murphy’s Driving School Impreza N10) finished 01.51s ahead of American father and son George and Anthony Sherman (Subway/Zanzibar/Kaizan Sushi Evo IX).

Sol Rally Barbados (June 1-3) and Flow King of the Hill (May 27) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Title sponsors: The Sol Group and Flow. Major partners: Automotive Art, Banks, Chefette, Simpson Motors, Toyo Tires. Partners: Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line, Tourism Development Corporation. Associate sponsor: Stoute’s Car Rental


Posted: March 12, 2018 2:48 PM

When the flag drops, the talking stops”, a motor sport adage crews competing in Sol Rally Barbados 2018 will be reminded of on Friday, June 1, when they will leave the Ceremonial Start at the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) and drive straight in to the opening stage on the RallySprint track. It marks the first time that the St Thomas venue – a regular location for rally finishes over the years – has played host to the start. A little under 48 hours later, having passed through nine of the island’s 11 parishes, the surviving crews will face an extended Bushy Park Barbados stage on Sunday afternoon to bring the 29th edition of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event to a close. The St Philip facility will once again host Rally Central, the ‘home-away-from-home’ for overseas crews.

Sol RB18 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 1-3, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill (KotH) the previous weekend, May 26/27. Since entries opened on the official web site - www.rallybarbados.net – on October 1 last year, more than 70 have been posted, with just under two months to go before entries close in early May.

Event organiser Neil Barnard explains:
“As we start to plan the route each year, there is always an urge to come up with something different, as we want to keep the challenge fresh and try to maintain a level playing field between the locals and the visitors. Last year’s two Friday night stages in the north of the island were a big hit with the drivers, even those who didn’t do so well in the dark, but the unexpected mass of spectators created a number of issues with the travelling public, so a repeat was not an option.

“In November’s Winter Rally, we used Vaucluse on the Friday night for something similar to what we plan for Sol Rally Barbados and it was very popular with competitors. Not just local crews, but regular visitors like Jamaica’s Jeff Panton, Paul Bird and Rob Swann from the UK, who all gave it the ‘thumbs up’.”

While the BRC is still fine-tuning the logistics, crews will pass over the purpose-built ramp first seen at Sol Warrens last year for a short interview, then set off in head-to-head pairs on the RallySprint track, although they will cover two complete laps of the figure-of-eight three-kilometre facility, rather than the usual one. Given the current entry level and allowing for local and regional entries yet to register on-line, organisers are estimating a starters’ list upwards of 90 cars, making for around four hours of entertainment for fans on Friday evening.

VRW is the third venue to be used since the Friday night start was introduced for Sol RB14; the first three years were at Bushy Park, the initial single-stage format increased to two stages in 2015 and ’16, before the night stages in the north last year. Bushy Park will still play a key role in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, Rally Central a hive of activity in the two weeks around KotH and Sol RB18. In addition to providing a storage and service facility, which accommodates most international and some regional competitors, it also provides support services for teams, particularly newcomers.

British Escort trio boosts growing Historic class

Three drivers from the British Midlands, with seven previous visits to Sol Rally Barbados between them, are currently fettling their Ford Escorts in readiness to do battle in the over 1600cc Historic class in Sol RB18. It will be the first time Raymond Clough, Sean Kukula and Chris Shooter have gone head-to-head – Shooter was absent when Kukula paid his only visit in 2016 – and they will have more than just one another to worry about, as the class looks set to be one of the best-supported this year. Already confirmed is fellow-Brit, newcomer John Faulkner (MkII Escort), while Wayne Archer (BMW 325) currently leads the ‘home team’. Clough admits that the “usual annual prep for Barbados is a wash and polish” for his MkI Escort, sponsored last year by Weber Construction Materials, Frank Key Builders Merchants and CCF Builders Merchants. For Sol RB18, however, a gearbox rebuild, new clutch and renewed suspension are under way, and Clough says:
“There’s lots of other bits being done to improve the rallying experience, especially for Jason Tindale, my service crew.”

A former sponsor of Barbados regular Martin Stockdale, Clough returned to rallying in 2015, having taken a long break after first competing in the late 1970s. He has been an overall finisher on each of his three visits, with 27th and the Historic 2 class win in Sol RB16 his best result, achieved with local co-driver Stephen Bell, who sits with him again this year. Shooter and his partner Bev LeGood won the class (then called International Historic) on their first visit in the Sparrow Hill Cars MkII in 2014, finishing 28th overall. Once regulars in the British Historic Rally Championship – they won their class in 2008 and the Shekhar Mehta ‘Spirit of Rallying’ Award the following year - they now limit their rallying to a handful of events which, last October, included the Jersey Rally, in which they finished 21st. LeGood says:
“It was brilliant, but also unearthed a few issues with the car. It was time for lots of Escort TLC, so it is currently at Major Motorsport being prepared for Sol RB18.”

Like Shooter, Kukula’s co-driver is also his partner, Emma Arthur, who will be hoping for a good finish to help celebrate her birthday on the Sunday of Sol RB18. When they contested Sol RB16, their MkII had undergone a ground-up rebuild, having last been rallied in 1997 . . . and it was worth it, as they finished 38th overall and second in H2 behind Clough, despite a broken alternator wire making the night stages difficult and the fact that it was Arthur’s first-ever pacenote rally (“Big smiles all round”, as Kukula said afterwards). The car is sponsored by Competition Supplies Ltd, Lifeline Motorsport Systems, WOSPerformance, Tilton Engineering, DMD Motorsport Engineering, Odyssey Batteries and Cobra Seats.

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marks the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the third by communications provider Flow.

Updated FAQ document posted to official web site

Posted: January 6, 2018 4:51 PM

The updated version of the Sol Rally Barbados FAQ document has today (January 5) been posted to the official web site. Available as a PDF download with a simple click on the visual on the home page, it includes information on accommodation and vehicle rental for competitors, shipping and safe storage of their vehicles once in Barbados and an outline of the provisional schedule.

The most significant change over recent years is the switch of location for shipping from the UK to Dover in Kent, as Portsmouth in Hampshire cannot accommodate Geest Line's new 2018 sailing schedule, following its introduction of an increased fleet of new freighters on its UK-Caribbean routes.

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marks the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the third by communications provider Flow.

Entries Open

Posted: October 2, 2017 7:44 AM

SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2018 DATES ANNOUNCED / WRC-1 extension to end of 2018 confirmed

Posted: July 13, 2017 9:49 AM

An unprecedented level of interest from both competitors and spectators has encouraged the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) to move earlier than ever before to announce the dates for the next edition of its premier event: Sol Rally Barbados 2018 will run from June 1 to 3, with Flow King of the Hill the previous Sunday (May 27), while on-line entries will open on the official web site - www.rallybarbados.net – on October 1, 2017.

Sol RB18 Chairman Mark Hamilton said:
"Way before this year’s event had even started, we were seeing a regular flow of e-mails and social media posts asking about dates for 2018. The competitors were all newcomers, some with very special cars, but there has also been a very encouraging upturn in interest from spectators. As people need to make their plans early, confirming our dates makes sense for all, so we sought approval from the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) to move now.”

Following a successful pilot programme in 2017, tour specialists Rally Travel (www.rallytravel.com) will again market the BRC’s premier event to their loyal customer base of rally fans all over the world. Positive customer feedback - remarks such as “I’m hooked on Barbados” and “if you’re thinking of doing it, it was magic!” from this year’s visitors - prompted the UK company to include Sol RB for a second year as the only non-WRC offering in its calendar.

This year’s promotion included a major presence at Europe's largest motor sport show, Autosport International in England, supported by the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC). Rally Travel Managing Director David Hutchinson says:
“Our agreement came very late so, by the time we were talking to potential customers at Autosport in January, many had already made their plans . . . but we did get an incredibly positive reaction. Sol Rally Barbados can, and should, become a 'must do' event on every motor sport fan's calendar and being able to confirm the dates so early means we can start work now. I am really looking forward to us opening up this market.”

From small beginnings as the International All-Stage Rally in 1990, the BRC’s premier event has grown into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar; it contributes around Bds $4 million to the economy each year, much of it in foreign exchange, and accounts for more than 4,000 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time.

The 79 overseas participants in Sol RB17, of whom 29 were new to the event, came from a record (for one year) 16 countries and there was also a record number of 18 female competitors. Adding the 2017 statistics to those of previous years, the event has now hosted approaching 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 Michael Fennell Jnr (Ford Focus WRC06) claimed a hat-trick of wins this year, and the fourth for Panton, the event’s first regional winner in 1998; he still has some way to go to catch island legend Roger Skeete, however, who has won 13 times. Sol RB17 saw only the fourth podium lock-out by overseas competitors in the event’s 28-year history, regular British visitors Rob Swann and Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) equalling their best result in second, while Roger Duckworth and Alun Cook (Impreza S6) finished on the podium for the first time.

Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 22 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 three-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for the main event.

WRC-1 extension to end of 2018 confirmed

WRC-1 cars will remain eligible for overall position in Barbados Rally Club (BRC) events, including Sol RB18 and Flow KotH, until the end of 2018. An announcement from the BRC’s Committee of Management last year, which had proposed limiting these post-2003 cars to class awards from January 2018, has been revisited.

BRC and Sol RB Chairman Mark Hamilton explains:
“Since coming to our decision last year on the eligibility of WRC-1 cars, we have continued to look at the ever-changing motor sport landscape, both at home and abroad, bearing in mind the solid support our premier event enjoys in Europe. While this announcement reflects a change in terms of time frame, we remain determined to develop the Club’s premier class, so this is very much a ‘work in progress’ that may result in changes in the future.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marks the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the third by communications provider Flow.

Event Website / Details

Posted: July 13, 2017 9:48 AM

Topics: Rally Barbados 

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