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Six-time WRC podium finisher Gardemeister to drive Suzuki SX4

The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) promises “a party to remember” when it celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its premier event with two spectacular weekends of motor sport at the end of this month. LIME King of the Hill (May 24) and Sol Rally Barbados (May 29-31) will not only offer competitors a challenge worthy of such a milestone, but will also give the island’s thousands of rally fans an unforgettable spectator experience.

The provisional entry list of 95 crews was confirmed today (Wednesday) during a press conference at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Rockley, on the island’s south coast. The Club’s Anniversary event has broken a number of records: overseas entries (44), participating nationalities (17), total of overseas participants (88), first-time overseas participants (40) and female competitors (15).

Sol RB15 will start and finish on the unique Race Of Champions Parallel Track at Bushy Park Barbados; on Friday night, the facility will play host to the first two of 22 special stages, competitors tackling the 1.8-kilometre course at one-minute intervals, while Sunday’s SuperSpecial will give drivers the chance to let their hair down head-to-head, safe in the knowledge that the times are not included in the results.

On the other side of the island, the Vaucluse Raceway (VRW) will be the focal point of LIME KotH and the Saturday of Sol RB15, as LIME partners with two other long-term sponsors of the BRC to present the LIME/Banks/Automotive Art Party Stage; following the creation of new link roads within VRW, roughly one mile has been added to the traditional Hangmans Hill stage . . . and fans will be up close to the action, with a top line-up of the island’s best DJs, live commentary, food and drink vendors, activities for kids and a ‘cool down zone’ for adults adding to an unrivalled spectator experience.

The introduction of the ROC track and new sections of VRW will combine with the reconfiguration of other familiar stages to present a refreshed challenge for competitors, while seeding arrangements change, too: in addition to the traditional Sunday morning re-seed based on overnight classification, the same will happen on Saturday morning.

The best-ever overseas entry of 44 crews includes former World Rally Championship contender, Finland’s Toni Gardemeister, who will campaign the Red Bull Global Rally Cross/Simpson Motors/Bushy Park Barbados Suzuki SX4 WRC with countryman Timo Alanne. Gardemeister, who has six WRC podium finishes and 16 stage wins to his credit, was fourth in the Championship in 2005 in a works Ford Focus WRC04.

The SX4 is one of a record 26 cars entered in the four-wheel-drive classes, headed by island legend and 13-time winner Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12). He will also face strong opposition from the UK, including Paul Bird (Focus WRC08), who won in 2012 & ’13, and last year’s runner-up Rob Swann (Impreza S11), while the region challenge is spearheaded by Jamaica’s Jeff Panton (Focus WRC06) and John Powell from Trinidad & Tobago (Focus WRC08).

And the battle for two-wheel-drive honours promises to be just as captivating, with the Toyota Starlets of Roger Mayers, Josh Read and the returning Neil Armstrong facing last year’s winner Rhett Watson (BMW M3), the Peugeot 306 Maxis of Stuart Maloney and Dave Skeete, plus Simon Mauger from the UK in his spectacular Ford Escort MkII.

The first chance for fans to mix with competitors will be at Simpson Motors Scrutineering on Saturday, May 23, where they will also be able to purchase items from an extensive range of 25th Anniversary memorabilia, including caps, polo shirts and T-shirts, plus bottle coolers, bottle openers, glasses, key fobs, pens and umbrellas. The fan apparel will also be available available at Surf Shack in the Sheraton Mall.

Sol RB15 Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “The selfless passion and interest through the years of the Club’s committees, volunteers and competitors, as well as corporate, government and tourism based entities has built what is now a world-recognised motor sport event. The 25th Anniversary has been planned with both competitor and spectator in mind . . . and we’ll be organising a party to remember, with a rally finish that will bring competitors, rally cars, service crews, supporters and spectators together.”

Title sponsor since 2008, Sol was represented today by Barbados Country Manager, Ezra Prescod: “We are truly proud to be the Title Sponsor of Sol Rally Barbados for the eighth year. As one of the leading fuel providers in the Caribbean Basin, motor sport connects with the core of our business. Through this international rally, the Club is consistently delivering a world-class experience to motor sport fans on the island and to our visitors from across the globe.”


Sol Rally Barbados (May 29-31) and LIME King of the Hill (May 24) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 55th Anniversary in 2012; title sponsors are the Sol Group and LIME. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art and Banks; official partners are Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line, the Tourism Development Corporation and Virgin Atlantic Airways; associate sponsors are Chefette, Glacial Pure, 104 The Beat, Little Switzerland, Redline Fuels, Stoute’s Car Rental, Up Beat Wholesale and West Indies Rum Distillery.

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