ENTRIES FLOW IN FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2016
In just over four weeks since on-line entries opened on October 1 on the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – 40 crews have already posted their intention to compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2016. Having celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its premier event this year, the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has announced that Sol RB16 will run from June 3 to 5, with Scrutineering and King of the Hill on May 28/29.
All but a handful of the entries already posted are from overseas, roughly one-third of them newcomers to the event, as the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International continues to rack up record-breaking sports-tourism statistics, with significant growth in the last five years. More than 400 overseas participants have now competed in the island, of whom more than 40 per cent have returned at least once, while at least 30 individuals have visited between five and 15 times.
“Our main focus is to deliver the core values of a seriously-competitive event, while maintaining the relaxed clubman-type atmosphere and level of hospitality that visiting crews and their families have come to enjoy, and which bring them back year on year. From this early response to entries opening, I would guess that we have the balance about right, which is a credit to each of the Rally Club‘s volunteers, who commit hours, growing into days, to the event, many of whom bring years of experience to the table.”
Crowd favourite BMW driver Martin Stockdale, who holds the record for the most consecutive visits, has already posted his Sol RB16 entry; when he arrived for his 15th visit this year, he debuted his new BMW 1M Coupe, in which he finished 21st overall and third in SuperModified 12, adding more trophies to those he has collected since 2001.
Mixed fortunes for ‘Team Barbados‘ at Dukeries Rally
Stockdale and Tomlinson were among five Sol RB15 competitors who were reunited at Donington Park in the British Midlands last Sunday (October 25) at the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally. The first rally to use the race circuit since the 1998 RAC Rally, it attracted a near-capacity field of 79 for an eight-stage, 55-mile tarmac event.
Stockdale and Gary Miller started the day well, fourth on SS1, with Oliver Hopkins and Ashley Trimble eighth in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI. Stockdale, who finished 12th overall, said: “I think everyone else was asleep on the first stage! Unfortunately, they all woke up after that and I started to go backwards; we lost the power steering on stage 3, then had a bad misfire on stages 4 and 5. It was a brilliant venue, with a lot of very potent cars – a good day all in all. I even beat Paul Bourne‘s old Focus!”
While Stockdale had squeezed in to the top 10 twice again, it was consistency that helped Hopkins and Trimble to ninth overall – matching their event seeding; they finished second in class to the Ford Fiesta R5 of John and Rhys Yates, with Brian Bell/Josh Davison in the ex-Bourne Ford Focus WRC07 third.
With co-driver Nick Taylor, Tomlinson and Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood were swapping times in their MkII Escorts, albeit in different classes. While Tomlinson finished 24th (10th in class), Shooter lost more than half a minute on the last stage, run in darkness, slipping to 26th, eighth in class, although LeGood was highest-placed Lady Co-driver.
Stockdale’s Sol RB15 co-driver Stephen Ritchie finished 35th in his own BMW M3 Compact with co-driver Ian Harden, while Paul Rees had a troublesome weekend in his Vauxhall Astra: “It started badly with a noise from the gearbox driving to and from Saturday scrutineering, so we swapped gearboxes in the garage at Donington, finishing at 10.30pm. Half-way around stage 1, the oil cooler line broke; the oil in the engine bay caught fire but, luckily, was extinguished quickly with a handheld. The service crew found the issue and repaired it, but when we went out to SS2, the car overheated, as we had damaged the fan wiring. We let it cool and the rest of the day went brilliantly.” Having missed SS3, however, Rees and Paul Briggs were posted as a retirement.