Sol Rally Barbados is inscribed on the 2021 calendar of the world governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), as it becomes a round of the NACAM Championship for the first time, bringing to 11 the countries which have hosted the competition. It was scheduled for inclusion last year, but the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly around travel restrictions, meant the shift of dates from May to October was no longer viable.
First run in 2008, the FIA Regional Rally Championship for the NACAM zone (North America, Central America, the Caribbean and the north of South America) will this year comprise six rounds, split evenly between tarmac and gravel. With four in Mexico and one in Canada, the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event is the penultimate round of the series, scheduled for September 25 & 26; those dates will be confirmed by the Club on June 1, if there has been significant further progress in the global fight against Covid-19.
Mexico’s Ricardo Triviño has 10 NACAM Championship titles to his credit since 2009, most recently last year, his second campaigning a Skoda Fabia R5, following previous successes in a Citroen DS 3 R5 and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX and X. After Ecuador’s Alejandro Kratochsvile (Peugeot 206) won the inaugural championship, Triviño’s subsequent run of success has only been interrupted by Peruvian drivers Nicolás Fuchs (Evo IX) and Raúl Orlandini (Evo IX), winners in 2010 and ’11 respectively.
BRC and Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “After Carlos Cordero, President of the FIA NACAM Rally Championship, approached us to be included last year, we were disappointed that the pandemic prevented us going ahead. So, we are delighted to be included in 2021, as it is certainly a feather in our cap being listed on the FIA Calendar. Although we do not yet know which of NACAM’s registered crews will travel, there is no doubt, based on the recent opening round, that they will bring a competitive edge to our event and some interesting cars not seen before in the island.”
With Reigning Champion Triviño not registered for the 2021 series, last year’s runner-up Ricardo Cordero dominated the opening round, Rally Colima (March 19/20), in a Citroen C3 Rally 2, with the Skoda Fabia R5s of Luis Garcia and Alfredo Mauro completing the podium. Two-time Mexican Rally Champion Cordero was fastest on all seven stages – the day’s final test was cancelled – building an initial advantage of nine seconds into a winning margin of more than three minutes, but the fight for honours in the NACAM Junior Cup was intense.
With all crews equipped with the Renault Clio RSR Rally5, times were evenly matched, with five changes of lead during the 55-mile event. Reigning Junior Champion Gustavo Uriostegui claimed the early advantage, winning the first stage, but Rafael Maggio fought back to win SS2. The two Mexican drivers swapped the lead back and forth throughout; Uriostegui won four stages, but former circuit racer Maggio emerged the winner on his rallying debut, finishing fourth overall and claiming the Junior class by a margin of just over five seconds.
FIA NACAM Rally Championship 2021
March 19/20 – Rally Colima, Mexico (Tarmac)
July 2-4 – Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, Canada (Gravel)
August 13-15 – Rally Guanajuato, Mexico (Gravel)
September 3/4 – Rally Sierra Juarez, Mexico (Tarmac)
September 25/26 – Sol Rally Barbados (Tarmac)
November 26/27 – Rally Montanas, Mexico (Gravel)
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, 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.