LOCAL CHAMPIONS SIGN UP FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

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LOCAL CHAMPIONS SIGN UP FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

Double Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Champion Driver Rhett Watson heads six local 2015 title-winners whose entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2016 are listed among nearly 60 already posted on-line at www.rallybarbados.net. Having celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its premier event this year, the BRC has confirmed that Sol RB16 will run from June 3 to 5, with Scrutineering and King of the Hill on May 28/29.
 
Watson was honoured for his second consecutive clean sweep of titles at the BRC’s Annual Prizegiving at Colleton Plantation, St John, last Saturday (December 5). With co-driver James Hutchinson in the Chefette / Power King / Gliptone / Stihl in support of Little Pink Gift BMW M3, he also won the SuperModified 12 class and 2wd Championship. They placed seventh overall in Sol RB15 – one better than 2014 – and top 2wd for the second year in a row.
 
Early entries for Sol RB16 also include 2015 BRC Class Champions Jamal Brathwaite, Neil Corbin, Roger Hill, Andrew Jones and Trinidad & Tobago’s David Coelho, who claimed the Group N crown in Barbados in a year which saw a growing number of regional drivers island-hopping to contest the Rally Club’s eight-round championship.
 
With long-term co-driver Graham Gittens, Hill won the 4wd Championship and WRC-2 in his Nassco / Esso / Pennzoil / MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC, in which he has finished in the top six in Sol Rally Barbados three times since acquiring the car in 2009. Hill has an enviable record of top 10 finishes and class wins on the island’s premier event.
 
Jones claimed his third SuperModified 11 title in the AP Jones Pharmacy / Southern Surf Beach Apartments / Lucozade Ford Escort MkII, although engine failure on the second day of Sol RB15 robbed him of a chance to better his ninth overall finish of the previous year; he still finished third in the 2wd Championship, wife Lindsay Pilkington winning the Highest-Placed Female Co-driver Award, while Jones was also presented with the Richard Roett Memorial Trophy in recognition of his determination and drive.
 
Modified 6 Champion Neil Corbin, a former Champion Driver, finished fourth in the title chase this year in the Nassco / Jason Jones / BG Products & Services / Auto Solutions / Valvoline / Max Meyer Paints / Emtage Electric Toyota Starlet. He and Matthew Staffner finished second in the 2wd Championship after some notable giant-killing performances, including 16th overall in Sol RB15, winning M6 for the third time in four years.
 
Twice the Club’s M6 Champion, Jamal Brathwaite turned the tables on the opposition in M7 for the first time since moving up a class with the Platinum Motors / Valvoline / Automotive Art / R S Electrical / Ellesmere Quarries / JSB Motorsport / Chicken Pen Racing / Codgies Customs Brokers Honda Civic Type-R. With co-driver Dario Hoyte, he won M7 on Sol RB15 on his way to claiming the Class Championship.
 
With entries now approaching 60, each of these local Champions will face overseas competition, as the regional and international crews are spread evenly through the field.
 
 
Group N titlist Coelho among early regional entries
 
One of three regional competitors to be recognised at last weekend’s BRC Prizegiving – Jamaica’s Christopher McFarlane was the 2015 Autocross Champion, while Trinidad & Tobago’s John Powell finished third in WRC-2 - David Coelho’s switch to Group N for Sol RB15 finally brought the success that has evaded him in his previous four visits.
 
With James Harris as co-driver in the Total / Lubetech / Zanzibar / Kaizan Sushi / www.machinerysalestrinidad.com / Quipsol Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Coelho claimed his first Sol Rally Barbados finish, 18th overall and third in Group N; basing the car in Barbados, he tackled all but one round of the BRC Championship, beating local drivers Andrew Mallalieu (Subaru Impreza N10) and Mark Thompson (Evo IX) to the Group N title and finishing third in the 2wd Championship.
 
And Coelho is not alone. Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton and T&T’s John Powell – overall and GpN winners respectively in Sol RB15 – plus Paul Horton and Stan Hartling of the Turks & Caicos Islands have all been regular participants in BRC rally and speed events during 2015. At the Prize-giving, Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “It is encouraging to see that participation from regional competitors is growing, with David Coelho, Stan Hartling, Paul Horton, Jeff Panton and the recently transplanted (to Barbados) ‘Teach’ McFarlane all competing on a regular basis. I should also like to make a special mention of ‘Penti’ Powell, who at his own expense has been firmly entrenched in the growth of motor sport within Barbados and further afield in recent years.”
 
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 22 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the island’s Ministry of Transport & Works; Sol RB16 and the previous Sunday’s King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event, are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Sol RB16 marks the ninth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.
 
For media information only. No regulatory value.
 
For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com

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