Motor sport champions from race track & rally stage hail broader benefits of Suzuki Rocks

At a function hosted by Suzuki, motor sport champions from race track and rally stage gathered at the Yacht Club at Port St Charles last week to reflect on the Suzuki ROC Barbados Challenge, which selected the two drivers who will represent Team Barbados in the Race Of Champions at Bushy Park next month (December 13/14).

While only two of the 20 on the Barbados Motoring Federation’s (BMF) short list could be winners – Rhett Watson and Dane Skeete claimed that honour – the broader benefits of the promotion were hot topics of discussion, among them the confirmation that each of the original candidates will enjoy ‘all areas’ access during ROC weekend, giving them the chance to mingle with the all-star cast of International drivers.

In addition, a number of participants mentioned how the Suzuki Rocks promotion had brought competitors together, both during the Challenges and at last week’s function. Watson said: “The evening at Port St Charles was fantastic. It was a great opportunity to spend time with the group of drivers in a social environment, as this doesn’t happen often across the genres of motor sport. Thanks to Suzuki for that event, as it really showed that they appreciated all that the drivers did in terms of promoting their brand.”

Stuart Williams echoed Watson’s thoughts: “The Suzuki Rocks team got the VIP treatment at every turn. Besides still nursing my wounds from the competition itself, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to compete against the best drivers in Barbados. It was a great experience.”

Fellow circuit-racer Steve King was another to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “I had a blast on Thursday night, we all had time to talk about racing and rallying. The competition itself was just full of fun, there was no animosity, everyone was cheering everyone else on . . . and I got to meet some really cool guys that I’d only ever heard of or read about before, like Neil Armstrong.”

Debbie Simpson said: “Simpson Motors was delighted to be involved in the Suzuki ROC Barbados Challenge. It was a privilege to have these champion drivers from the island be part of our Suzuki Rocks promotion and to watch them in action as the selection process to find the two winners progressed.

“We were so impressed to see the camaraderie and sportsmanship that the guys displayed as they interacted with each other, strengthened relationships and generally assisted and guided each other – a real sight for sore eyes.

ROC 2014

Watson and Skeete will represent Barbados twice over ROC weekend: in the ROC Nations Cup, they will face champions from around the world while ROC Caribbean will be a head-to-head competition against teams from Guyana (Kristian Jeffrey, Mark Vieira), Jamaica (Doug Gore, Jeffrey Panton) and Trinidad & Tobago (Franklyn Boodram, David Coelho).

In addition, the faster driver from Barbados and the fastest from the region in the ROC Caribbean heats will go through to face an all-star cast in the individual competition on the Sunday. Confirmed drivers already include the reigning ROC Champion of Champions, Lotus Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, 2014 FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg and 2014 Indy500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

While Watson and Skeete are enjoying themselves in competition, however, those who lost out will enjoy full privileges. Bushy Park Circuit Inc’s (BPCi) Business Development Manager Zoe Manning says: “All 20 of the drivers in this year’s Suzuki Rocks promotion will receive special accreditation for access to the Pits, the ‘Mix Zone’ and other areas, so they will gain the same access to all areas as the drivers who are competing, giving them the opportunity to mingle with the International stars.”

Simpson added: “Simpson Motors salutes Mark Maloney, the team at Bushy Park and the Barbados Motoring Federation for giving drivers from Barbados and the wider Caribbean this opportunity-of-a-lifetime to mingle with, and actually compete against, champions from all over the world.”

The final word goes to Watson: “It’s an absolute dream to have won this event and to team up with Dane for the ROC. I’m sure we will put our best foot forward – the right foot, that is – and do Barbados proud.”

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