Minister of Tourism supports region's biggest international motorsport event

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Minister of Tourism supports region's biggest international motorsport event


Running order confirms Bourne at number one


As the organising Barbados Rally Club (BRC) confirmed the final running order on May 28 for Sol Rally Barbados 2008, the details reflected clearly the sports tourism goals of two of its major backers, the Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.


Following his victory in Saturday's Shell V-Power King of the Hill, Rally Barbados 2007 winner Paul Bourne (Subaru Impreza WRC S9) will start at number one, with two of the leading international contenders hot on his heels: Ireland's Kris Meeke - beaten by just two-tenths of a second on Saturday by Bourne - will start at two in the John Powell-owned Toyota Corolla WRC, while popular British ace Kevin Procter (Subaru Impreza WRC S7) starts his sixth campaign in the island at three.


Ten times a winner of the BRC's premier event, Roger Skeete (Ford Escort WRC) will start at four, with two more previous winners, Jamaica's Gary Gregg - he won two years ago in his current Ford Focus WRC02 - and 1999 victor Trevor Manning (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) completing the top six.


Meeke, Procter and Gregg are just the spearhead of a major overseas invasion, with all but one of the Groups being contested by at least one foreign crew; in addition to the 59 international or regional drivers and co-drivers included in the entry list, family, friends and support crews bring the numbers already arrived into the hundreds, with large numbers of regional fans due to arrive in the next two days.


At the Sol Rally Barbados 2008 Launch Party, staged on Tuesday night at Kendal Sporting in St Philip, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy re-affirmed the Government's support for the BRC's on-going development of the region's biggest annual international motor sport event . . . and for the Club itself. Addressing a gathering of more than 300 people, and noting that the Barbados Tourism Authority celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2008, the Minister said: "The fact that the Barbados Rally Club reached its half-century last year says a lot for the Club and its members, and the Club needs to be saluted for that."


Looking ahead, the Minister said: "From my rallying experience, I can see no reason why our friends in the World Rally Championship should not look at doing something in Barbados. Our Government would support that. In 2006, 7,700 visitors came to the island expressly for sporting activities, and that number rose to 9,500 persons in 2007.


"We can offer a unique sports tourism experience and, as the Minister responsible, I will make every effort to help the Barbados Rally Club continue to be a viable part of that. The synergies with tourism are important and provide a platform for continued growth, and we appreciate the critical part Rally Barbados can play, particularly at a down time in our tourism year."


  Sol Rally Barbados 2008 final running order statistics:

+ 88 crews listed to start

+ drivers or co-drivers from 13 countries, including host nation Barbados

+ a record 26 four-wheel-drive cars

+ 44 drivers or co-drivers from Europe

+ 15 drivers or co-drivers from around the region

+ a record number of female competitors, one driver, 15 co-drivers

+ cars from 17 manufacturers, Toyota the best-represented with 18 entries


  Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are elements of the eighth Barbados Rally Carnival. Each day of Sol Rally Barbados, organised by the Barbados Rally Club, is a separate qualifying round of the BRC Rally Championship. The title sponsor is Sol and associate sponsors and marketing partners are McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors, Automotive Art, Banks Holdings, DaCosta Mannings Auto Centre, Digicel, Nassco, Consolidated Finance, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Crane & Equipments, Little Switzerland, Armag, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association and the Barbados Tourism Authority.


Remaining key events


Thursday and Friday, May 29/30 - 4.00 to 6.00pm each day

Meet the Drivers at Shell Banyans

Saturday, May 31 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 1

Start from Simpson Motors, Warrens, St Michael, at 9.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Sunday, June 1 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 2

Restart from Bushy Park, St Philip, at 7.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Shell V-Power SuperSpecial at Bushy Park

Monday, June 2 - approx 3.30pm - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 Prizegiving

The Boatyard, Bay Street, St Michael


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