The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) revealed the dates for the 34th edition of its premier event. Subject to final ratification by the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), Rally Barbados 2024 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show and King of the Hill, the final shakedown and seeding event, on May 25 and 26.
Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard said: “We know that the traditional relationship between our dates and the summer half-term holidays is important locally and for our loyal participants from the UK, which remains our biggest source market. We wanted to have our date for next year out early so anyone thinking of travelling to Barbados for the event has plenty of time to plan.
“We have already started our own planning, too, added Barnard. “Expanding our rally planning committee has worked well to fine tune many organisational aspects of the event, so we are now keen to move on. Over the recent past, partly because of the pandemic, the social side of the event has been a logistical challenge, so we will be working to ensure our rally continues to be a fun, social event with its own unique culture and atmosphere on our Motorsport Island. Watch this space.”
RB23 was won by New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard in a Hyundai i20 R5 by the smallest winning margin for more than 20 years – just 0.88s – after an epic battle with two-time winners, local crew Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew in their Subaru Impreza WRC S12. The Kiwi brought to 12 the number of winners since 1990, seven of whom have come from overseas, the Roll of Honour led by Skeete’s father Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete with 13 victories between 1990 and 2014.
Despite failing to finish the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic earlier this month, Kiwi crew Paddon and Kennard have now tied up the 2023 European Rally Championship becoming the first non-Europeans to claim the title and also are currently leading their domestic championship. Production World Rally Champion in 2011, Paddon joined two-time Rally Barbados winner Kris Meeke, podium finisher Elfyn Evans and the late Bjorn Waldegaard who have won rounds of the WRC before or since their participation in the island.
Since the BRC, which marked its 65th Anniversary in 2022, first ran the International All-Stage Rally in 1990, the event has grown into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar. It has regularly contributed more than Bds $4 million to the economy, much of it in valuable foreign exchange, and accounted for as many as 4,000 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time of the year for tourism. In the intervening years, the 1990 number of 35 starters has grown to an average of around 90, including more than 40 overseas entries. The event has hosted in excess of 600 competitors from 32 countries, who have racked up well over 1,000 visits between them.
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 & Water Resources; the previous Sunday’s King of the Hill ‘shakedown’, run under a similar arrangement and 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.