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Major changes to the route for Sol Rally Barbados 2017, including two night-time stages on Friday, June 2, within the longest event run since 2004, have been given the ‘thumbs up’ by two of the potential contenders for outright victory. Thirteen-time winner Roger Skeete described the opening stages as “fantastic”, a view shared by regular British visitor Rob Swann, who finished second to Skeete in 2014.

  With Saturday’s Rally Show at Simpson Motors and Flow King of the Hill on Sunday fast approaching, the clock is ticking ahead of Sol RB17 (June 2-4), the 28th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s blue riband event. Rally Central at Bushy Park Barbados is already abuzz with overseas competitors, unpacking their cars and enjoying the chance for some testing on the 2.01-kilometre International Circuit.

  The most successful driver in the event’s history, Skeete said: “It is obvious that someone has given lots of thought to the selection and the layout of the various stages. The stages are generally very good, except for a few bumpy spots. The new sections joining stages used in the past are an unknown, while the increased length will definitely be more challenging.”

  Friday night’s two seven-kilometre stages run from Sailor Gully, a staple in Sol Rally Barbados in recent years, down Farley Hill, then through Diamond Corner and on toward Boscobel. “The Friday night stage is fantastic . . . however, it would have been perfect if it had been going to start at 8.00 pm. My night vision is not what it used to be, so I will be trying to get through safely,” Skeete added.

  Swann was even more enthusiastic: “The new route looks great and it's always nice to see new stages. The stage lengths are improved as well, which is fantastic. Having proper stages on Friday night, instead of a Super Special, is something many competitors have asked for: it takes a lot of work to get the cars and crew out on Friday night, so having good mileage and stages is vital.

  “The length of those stages and the dark will have a big impact on the rally going in to Saturday, as I think the gaps over those two stages could be the biggest of the rally for many crews. I am really looking forward to the two runs at night.”

Rally Club teams visit neighbourhoods across the island

Barbados Rally Club committee members, competitors past and present, media and volunteers spent many hours on the road over the weekend visiting neighbourhoods across the island to ensure residents are fully aware of the upcoming Flow King of the Hill (May 28) and Sol Rally Barbados (June 2-4). While the total competitive stage distance is more than 130 kilometres, each of the venues is used more than once, so the event in fact only temporarily closes 44kms of public road.

  The geographical spread across the island, however, is considerable: from St Peter on Friday night, the event runs through St Lucy, St Andrew and St Thomas on Saturday, concluding in St John and St Philip on Sunday. In the Official Programme for the event, more than 40 communities or villages are listed in the acknowledgements panel by the BRC . . . but the Club is far more hands-on in its relationship with those residents and organisations affected by the event.

  Last weekend’s final two days of house-to-house canvassing, handing out Residents Letters, brought the sensitisation programme to an end; over the past week, Club volunteers have visited around 900 homes directly on the rally route, while more than 2000 notices have been posted to a further 30 surrounding areas, which might be affected by the passage of the event. In addition, the Club funds a full clean-up of all the stages post-event.

  BRC Competitions Secretary Neil Corbin explained: “We inform the residents as to when the rally will pass, how long it will take, they are given a leaflet to refer to once we have left. Naturally, we also listen to any remarks they may have about previous years, particularly if an issue had arisen that the resident felt was not dealt with in a proper manner. Along the way, we meet many rally fans who look forward to seeing ‘action’ on the event, and sometimes simply end up having a chat with an elderly lady, who starts to dance as she thinks we are having a free party!

  “Long before we reach this stage, we will have made direct contact with many property owners along the route, also every church that might be affected by the event, so we can work to limit the possible disruption.”


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.

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