ANNIVERSARY SHAKE-UP FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS: Motor sport winners at National Sports Council Awards
The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is determined to make Sol Rally Barbados 2015 an occasion worthy of the 25th Anniversary of the Club’s first International All-Stage Rally. Changes to the structure of the event, enhancements to the social programme and the return of the Sunday Cup all look set to help fulfill that goal.
Rally Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “We have been hard at work to ensure the planning, structure and running of the event maintains the high standards we have set ourselves in recent years. At the same time, we have made some changes based not only on our own involvement, but also thanks to the invaluable feedback from local, regional and international competitors.
An updated version of the event’s FAQ document will shortly be posted to the official website – www.rallybarbados.net. Available as a PDF download, it details travel arrangements, accommodation and car rental for competitors, shipping and safe storage of their vehicles, fuel regulations and includes an outline of the scheduled activities.
For the second year in a row, Sol RB will kick off on Friday night (May 29) and, again, at Bushy Park Barbados – action is scheduled to start at 6.30pm. While the route-setters are currently fine-tuning details of the format, competitors and spectators can all look forward to a unique experience at the St Philip facility.
Saturday will start later than in recent years – currently, the target is 10.00am – with 11 stages at three venues; one will be used three times during daylight, while the fourth and final run of the other two will be after nightfall. Nine further stages at three different venues will run on Sunday, bringing the total stage distance to around 115 kilometres.
Hamilton continued: “History shows that the best rally finishes have been those that bring competitors, service crews, supporters and spectators together. The most recent example of this was the post-event lime by the Rally Club’s bar in the spectator area of the final stage in St Philip in 2013.
“So, we will be going back to this format, also returning to the scene of some epic Rally Barbados finishes of the past – the event’s final stage will end inside the Vaucluse Raceway in St Thomas, having already passed through the facility earlier in the day.”
Also on the social front, the ‘Rally Central‘ Fish Fry & Pig Roast, one of the most popular events with overseas visitors, is to be combined with the Welcome Party, which has previously followed the Briefing Meeting. It will become the keynote 25th Anniversary event, on Monday, May 25. Hamilton explained: “We have been looking at how to mark this milestone in a way that suits the spirit of the event and of the Club, so this will remain a casual affair. It will also start earlier – we are fortunate that it is the Whit Monday Bank Holiday, so we can encourage larger participation from local crews.”
The Briefing Meeting will now become a purely business function, for drivers and co-drivers only, and has been moved one day earlier in the week, to the Tuesday, at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa. Hamilton added: “Moving these two functions leaves Wednesday and Thursday completely free for crews to enjoy some island life with their families, or go out and recce the stages, in readiness for the Friday night start.”
Service arrangements have also been modified, following competitor feedback after new restrictions were introduced last year. There will still be one Central Service Park for the whole weekend, in the Andrews Factory Yard in St Joseph, but servicing elsewhere will be free, with the exception of a number of restricted zones.
It is hoped that this, along with the return of the Sunday Cup, which was phased out after Sol RB10, will increase the chance of crews making it to the end of the event. Hamilton concluded: “We have made these changes in view of the overriding spirit of the event to provide as much encouragement and opportunity as we can for competitors to remain in the rally.”
Motor sport recognised at National Sports Council Awards
The Caribbean’s largest independent oil company was recognised with the Sports-Tourism Award for its sponsorship of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event, which accounts for more than 4,000 visitor nights annually. General Manager of Sol (Barbados), Ezra Prescod, accepted the award from Board Member of the National Sports Council Sylvesta Forde.
Mallalieu, who became the first FIA Formula 1 Steward from the English-speaking Caribbean last November, was honoured as an Official Receiving International Recognition, while Thorpe was presented with a Special Award, with the citation “in recognition of your outstanding performance for motorsport in 2014”.