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Sol Rally Barbados 2017 (June 2-4), which will cover the longest route since 2004, could prove to be the toughest in the 28-year history of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event, according to the organisers. From Friday night’s Ceremonial Start at Sol Warrens to Sunday’s final timed stage at Bushy Park Barbados, the pressure will be relentless for the 93 crews confirmed on the provisional entry list at today’s (Wednesday) Media Briefing at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Rockley.

  As the BRC marks its 60th Anniversary, the Sol RB17 committee set out to create a challenge worthy of the celebration, with significant changes to the structure of the main event and those leading up to it. The Simpson Motors Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill (May 27/28) will offer fans unrivalled opportunities to meet local, regional and international competitors, then see them in action as they fight for seeding position.

  After crews are flagged away from the Friday evening Ceremonial Start, they will head straight for two seven-kilometre stages in the north of the island; by the time they get to bed, they will have tackled more than 10 per cent of the total stage distance, so will need to be on their toes from the start. The remaining 20 stages on Saturday and Sunday are a mix of familiar territory and new ground, culminating in a tricky, technical 2kms stage at Bushy Park Barbados, the final timed stage.

  Rally Director Neil Barnard told today’s (Wednesday) Media Briefing: “We believe this will be one of the toughest, if not the toughest, rallies that we have run. It is the first time ever that the average length of stages has been more than six kilometres, and we’re starting Friday night with two runs over seven kilometres at Diamond Corner, this year’s longest stage. There have been longer ones in the past, like Kendal which used to be north of eight kilometres, but that would be a real stand-out stage in context, with the rest around four to five. Back in 2004, the rally was set for more than 160 kilometres, but over 32 stages, so the average was only just over 5K.”

  The longer stages, along with the additional requirements for running on Friday night, have put greater demands on the BRC’s volunteer force, particularly the marshals who man every junction on each of the timed special stages; where 30 might have been needed at a venue last year, the number has perhaps risen to 50, meaning that the Club has been looking out for more marshals than ever before. But there has been a silver lining, as Barnard explained: “We seem to have been quite successful in a shout-out for marshals, which resulted in a number of respondents coming forward to be trained up, first-time volunteers. I hope that we will retain a good percentage of these newcomers, as the Club looks to continue to expand our resources, both in terms of equipment and personnel.”

Panton, Procter, Skeete & Swann head record 17-nation entry

Island legend Roger Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B), 13-time winner of the BRC’s premier event, and Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton (Ford Focus WRC06), who claimed his third victory last year, head a talent-packed entry for Sol RB17. Britain’s Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) and Rob Swann (Impreza S12B) lead the 44-strong overseas entry, which has strong representation right through the field.

  Including host nation Barbados, the entry includes participants from a record 17 countries, with 80 overseas drivers or co-drivers, 30 new to the event; as the FIA’s Women in Motorsport movement continues to grow, Sol RB17 can boast a record 18 female competitors (from a record eight countries), while there are cars from 15 manufacturers, Ford best-represented with 19, followed by BMW (17), Mitsubishi (13) and Toyota (9).

  Title sponsor since 2008, Sol was represented today by General Manager (Barbados), Ezra Prescod: “Motor sport personifies our product and truly gets to the heart and passion of our business. It has been our great pleasure to have been Title Sponsor of Sol Rally Barbados for 10 exciting years and we thank the Barbados Rally Club for the opportunity and celebrate with them as they mark their 60th Anniversary this year.”

  Marilyn Sealy, Flow’s Director of Corporate Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, added: “As the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) sets the stage for the 28th edition of the Caribbean’s largest annual motor sport International, Flow is especially pleased to be back in the driver’s seat. This year, we are once again very proud to be the title sponsor of Flow King of the Hill and we look forward to providing rally fans with the ideal setting for what is always an exciting precursor to Sol Rally Barbados.”

 

Sol Rally Barbados (June 2-4) and Flow King of the Hill (May 28) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2017; title sponsors are the Sol Group and Flow. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art and Banks; official partners are Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line and the Tourism Development Corporation; associate sponsors are Chefette and Stoute’s Car Rental.

 

SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2017 Special Stage Schedule

Times indicate Car 0 due

Friday, June 2

 

2100    Ceremonial Start, Sol Warrens

2200    SS1 – Diamond Corner 1 (7.00km)

2315    SS2 – Diamond Corner 2 (7.00km)

 

Saturday, June 3

1030    Restart – Greenland Agricultural Station

1050    SS3 – Lamberts 1 (6.80km)

1135    SS4 – Automotive Art Canefield 1 (6.40km)

1200    SS5 – Spring Vale 1 (5.80km)

1300    SS6 – Lamberts 2 (6.80km)

1345    SS7 – Automotive Art Canefield 2 (6.40km)

1410    SS8 – Spring Vale 2 (5.80km)

 

Service and lunch halt – Greenland Agricultural Station

 

1605    SS9 – Lamberts 3 (6.80km)

1650    SS10 – Automotive Art Canefield 3 (6.40km)

1715    SS11 – Spring Vale 3 (5.80km)

1815    SS12 – Automotive Art Canefield 4 (5.60km)

 

Total stage distance, leg 1 - 76.60km

 

Sunday, June 4

0945    SS13 – Toyo Tires Padmore 1 (6.00km)

1020    SS14 – Malvern 1 (5.50km)

1045    SS15 – Drax Hall 1 (6.50km)

1145    SS16 – Toyo Tires Padmore 2 (6.00km)

1220    SS17 – Malvern 2 (5.50km)

1245    SS18 – Drax Hall 2 (6.50km)

 

Service and lunch halt - Carrington Factory

 

1415    SS19 – Toyo Tires Padmore 3 (6.00km)

1450    SS20 – Malvern 3 (5.50km)

1515    SS21 – Drax Hall 3 (6.50km)

1615    SS22 – Bushy Park Barbados (2.00km)

 

Total stage distance, leg 2 - 56.00km

Total overall stage distance - 132.60km

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