ENTRIES FLOW IN FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2022
Nearly 40 entries have been posted for Sol Rally Barbados 2022 since the on-line entry form went live last Monday (January 3). While two-thirds of those are from overseas, the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is buoyed by the positive response from island competitors looking forward to some measure of normality returning to motor sport, led by Roger Hill, whose record of 22 top 10 finishes on the club’s premier event is unrivalled.
Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard says: “The response during the first week has been hugely encouraging, particularly from local competitors looking forward to rallying once again. While we still have some way to go with getting our strategic plan for running the events in a Covid-safe environment complete and approved by the authorities, we are pressing ahead at full speed, allowing our loyal visitors from the wider Caribbean and further afield to make their preparations.” Sol RB22 is scheduled for the weekend of June 4 & 5, with King of the Hill on the previous Sunday (May 29).
Hill, who now campaigns a Skoda Fabia R5, was the first island driver to post his entry. He said: “We must be grateful to the clubs and permission given from the authorities for allowing events at Bushy Park and Vaucluse during our much-reduced 2021 season. Even though it may not have been the choice of some, it provided the opportunity for competitors to get out there and compete against the usual high level of competition under our Covid protocols.
“But I am very excited about 2022, with the hope that road closures will resume. Whichever way we can get them – long, short, twisty, bumpy, wet or dry, we all want nothing more. The feeling of participating in a rally with cumulative times and various road conditions is something that we all miss greatly. The challenge of every corner and surface being different is what rallying is all about.”
Crowd favourite Andrew Jones, who won the BRC 2wd Championship in 2020 in his Ford Escort MkII, said: “Since I started rallying in 1992, I had never missed a season until for the first time in 2021, when there was no road rallying due to Covid. My wife and ‘navi’ Lindsey and I are eager to get back on the stages for 2022 – we miss seeing all the spectators lining the sides of the roads enjoying themselves while supporting their favourite drivers. We can’t wait to be entering the Duck Pond 90s sideways, going flat through the Esses at Malvern or tearing it up from Four Hills to Orange Hill, just to name a few of our brilliant stages.”
Like Hill, four-time Sol RB class-winner Jamal Brathwaite is grateful for the events that did run in 2021, but is looking forward to a return to closed road stages this year: “The BRC, MCBI and VRMSC ensured that the drivers were able to get seat time in 2021 and for that I am thankful. However, rallying on closed roads and with spectators watching offers more enjoyment. The stages are longer, there is a larger variety of corners and of course the speeds are a lot higher. The excitement on spectators’ faces, glimpsing them cheering along the stages and watching them get anxious as you don’t get on the brakes as early as they expect are all aspects of rallying that were missed in 2021. Also, these stages would allow our sponsors to get much-needed visibility in return for their continued support during these trying times.
“Sol Rally Barbados and King of the Hill will be exciting for 2022, as there are said to be new and exciting stages for us to contest over the two weekends. The car is all prepped and tested and we are ready for long awaited start of the 2022 season.”
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 20 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 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.