The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has announced the planned dates for Sol Rally Barbados 2021 and its associated events, in the hope that the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic will have abated in time for the Club’s blue riband event to be run on its traditional date. Subject to final ratification by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), Sol RB21 will run on June 5 & 6, while The Rally Show will return on the previous Saturday (May 29), with Flow King of the Hill on the Sunday (May 30).
On-line entries started at the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – since Saturday (December 12) and close in early May 2021.
Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard said: “Because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, we recognize that the overall situation is still very fluid, but we still need to try to plan. We are therefore already hard at work on the 2021 edition of Sol Rally Barbados. The pandemic has highlighted the fragile nature of what we do and has forced us to look at various components of the event and its overall viability for 2021 and the future.
We learned a lot from this year’s event, held as it was in an unusual situation and in extreme weather conditions. It was very stressful to execute, but in the end I think it was a success and we did learn a great deal in the process. Our intention – as it is every year – is to try to take away the positives, apply them to the following year’s event and continue to improve.”
The event has evolved from small beginnings as the International All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar. Following its steady growth over the past 30 years, the event has contributed as much as Bds $4 million to the economy annually, much of it in valuable foreign exchange, and accounted for as many as 4,000 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time in the tourism calendar. It has hosted more than 500 overseas participants from 32 countries and, while the biggest competitor base remains the UK and Ireland, competitors have come from as far afield as Kenya and New Zealand, with a recent upsurge in interest from the United States.
Although the coronavirus pandemic caused Sol RB20 to be postponed for five months, the event ran successfully on October 31/November 1 with strict Covid-19 protocols in place for the organising team, participants and spectators. It was won by American motor sport star Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino in a brand-new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 with support from Ford Performance and Monster Energy. On their first visit, they defeated not only three of the event’s most successful drivers of recent years, but also the elements, frequent and heavy rain showers, common at the time of year, making for treacherous conditions and testing drivers to the full.
On stage at the Vaucluse Raceway Prizegiving, Block said: “It was a really great event with great competition. What struck me more was the atmosphere; it was brilliant with the competitors and all the fans.” A 15-minute film created by the Hoonigan Racing Division’s media arm covering Sol RB20 and raw in-car footage including two stages he won on his way to victory, had been viewed approaching 600,000 times during November and early December, bringing the event and the island to a global audience.
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 24 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Maintenance; the previous Sunday’s Flow King of the Hill ‘shakedown’, run under a similar arrangement, features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for the main event.