From Australasia to North America, rally teams have been making final preparations for Sol Rally Barbados 2016, as shipping dates draw near. New Zealand rallying legend Mike Marshall bade farewell to his Peugeot 106 S16 on Wednesday (April 13), as it left the Port of Auckland on the first leg of its 20,000-mile round trip to the Caribbean.
  Meanwhile, New York-based Irish businessmen Martin Donnelly and Barry McKenna’s rally cars will have covered around 4,500 miles by the time they join them in Barbados. They will the travel a further 2,500 miles north to Maine, to compete in the New England Forest Rally, making for a 14,000-mile round trip by the time they return to Ireland.
  The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event and the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, Sol RB16 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 3-5; the previous weekend (May 28/29), fans will have their first chance to see overseas crews up close at Scrutineering at Simpson Motors, then in action at FLOW King of the Hill.
  Marshall’s car is aboard the container ship Spirit of Melbourne, heading through the Panama Canal to Cartagena in Colombia; unlike last year, when their container was trans-shipped once for the final leg of the journey to the Bridgetown Port in Barbados, there is a second stop and further change of vessel in the Dominican Republic.
  Marshall and co-driver Marc Keen are looking forward to this year, having learned some lessons in Sol RB15, when Marshall’s son Nick also competed in the family’s Peugeot 206; son finished third in Modified 7, father sixth in M6. Marshall told “We made no attempt to lighten our cars, all we did was fit suspension that was 50 per cent stiffer. Both decisions were wrong. The technical roads in Barbados require softer suspension to cope with the patches in the road surface, plus good brakes and good acceleration from lighter weight. Hopefully, we have made better choices this year.”
  The Window Factory Peugeot is now 100kg lighter after a bare-shell rebuild and has new brakes, wiring, a Sadev paddle-shift gearbox and fresh paint job. Marshall added: “Last year, Willie Hinds told me: ‘On your first event in Barbados, no-one will remember if you were slow, but everyone will remember if you crash.’ So I took his advice!”
  Marshall was New Zealand’s top driver in the early 1970s, regularly winning more stages than anyone else, even against international competition. A member of the Woolmark Ford Team in Rally New Zealand in 1973, finishing second to MkI Escort team-mate Hannu Mikkola, he went on to win the event two years later in what was the first International success for the MkII Escort.
  Donnelly is making his third trip to Sol RB, having finished the event on both previous visits in his former Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 22nd overall and second in Group N in 2012 the better result. Having started his competition career in the mid-1990s driving a Ford Mustang, he has been a regular competitor on both sides of the Atlantic and twice won the Atlantic Rally Cup in the USA, in 2008 & ’09; a frequent podium finisher, he has won the Black River Stages in up-state New York three years in a row.
  Since acquiring the Eire Concrete Inc Toyota Corolla WRC shortly after his last visit to Barbados in 2013, Donnelly has claimed more than 10 class wins or podium finishes in Irish events, with a best overall result of third in the 2014 Cork 20 National, with Brian Doherty, who has rallied on both sides of the Atlantic and returns to Barbados this year.
  With co-driver Declan Tynan, McKenna will campaign his ECD NY Inc-backed Ford Escort MkII in SuperModified 2; in the last three seasons, he has clocked up three class wins and a further five class podiums, with a best of seventh overall on last July’s Mach 1 Stages, a round of the Scottish Tarmac Championship.
Supplementary Regulations confirm entry closing date
The Supplementary Regulations (SRs) for Sol Rally Barbados 2016, which will shortly be available on the official web site,, confirm the on-line entry closing date as Friday, April 29. The document also specifies other important dates in the event’s time-line, with just six weeks to go before Simpson Motors Scrutineering.
  The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) decision to adopt the FIA Sporting Code from 2016 has resulted in a number of changes being made to the SRs (formerly ASRs), along with the creation of a new Rally Sporting Regulations (RSRs) document, as BRC Chairman Mark Hamilton explains: “The adoption of the FIA Sporting Code effectively rendered our existing over-arching GCRs and SSRs obsolete.
  “While we are keen to move towards further alignment of process and procedure with international standards, it is also important that we maintain a firm grip on what makes our motor sport environment unique, and what makes it work. This has been a long process and I would like to thank those volunteer Club Officials, in particular our Chief Scrutineer Adrian Linton and Assistant Competition Secretary Kreigg Yearwood, who have made a major contribution.”
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 Ministry of Transport & Works; Sol RB16 and FLOW King of the Hill 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.
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