Decision welcomed by overseas competitors

World Rally Cars built before the end of 2016 will now be eligible for Barbados Rally Club (BRC) events, following an overwhelming vote by the membership in favour of an amendment to the Club’s 2019 to 2021 Vehicle Regulations. Last evening’s (Tuesday) well-attended EGM at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Clubhouse at Searles, Christ Church, also approved changes to the rules for Modified 4, minimum weights across all classes and some rim widths.
 Since the publication of the latest three-year cycle of regulations, including a 2008 cap on World Cars, there has been extensive debate on the subject, within the Club’s Committee of Management (CoM) and among competitors, both in the island an overseas. The Club’s PRO Neil Barnard said: “The overall turnout by members last night was good, with a number of further votes submitted by members via proxy. The change of the rules to allow WRC cars up to 2016 was approved by an overwhelming margin.”
   When questioned about the thought process behind the date change to 2016, Club Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “It is critical that our regulations encourage participation at the highest level possible. To do otherwise would affect the way our events are viewed by all stakeholders, be they competitors, spectators, partners or volunteers. This is particularly true of Sol Rally Barbados and, while not the only successful event that the Club runs, it is certainly the ‘main driver’, heavily influencing the Club’s financial and business relationships, as well as its ability to sustain a National Event that is respected locally, regionally and internationally. The importance of maintaining this reality should not be underestimated and I am hopeful that the decisions tonight will see our continued growth and contribution to motor sport and the Barbados sports-tourism product.”
 Five-time winner, Jamaica’s Jeff Panton, and British regulars Rob Swann and Tom Preston have all welcomed the move. Panton, whose Ford Focus WRC06 was badly damaged in a high-speed accident in Sol RB19, said: “I support this action by the Club. It encourages further development of the sport and particularly Rally Barbados. It also give me some options to consider going forward, which were previously unavailable."
 Swann, who finished second in Sol Rally Barbados in 2017 and ‘18 in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12B, said: “Great news! As a Club Member, I voted by proxy. I am very pleased with the Club’s vision and believe it will strengthen not only Rally Barbados, but rallying in the wider Caribbean. Older WRC cars like my Subaru are fantastic but becoming unreliable, so a move to newer World Cars, albeit maybe not as powerful, is the only way for reliability. This is also true of R5 now, a great option alongside WRC. I am not ready to move to R5 and have tested some new WRC cars, but not settled on one, so am keeping my options open. Having watched the rally this year - certainly not by choice - the WRC cars are the crowd favourites and it is easy to see why.”
 Preston has already acquired a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, in which he finished 10th in his familiar Hippo Group colours in the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally last Saturday (July 20), a round of the Irish Tarmac Championship. He was co-driven by Carl Williamson, with whom he won Group A in Sol RB18 in his Skoda Fabia R5, then finished fourth overall and second in the new R5 class this year. Williamson was also the co-driver for the Fiesta’s previous owner, Charlie Payne, winning six events in 2017 and ’18.
 Preston said: “I am really happy with the decision to extend the age limit on WRC cars to 2016. Rally Barbados is an event that I always look forward to, as do all the family and our friends, so I would have been gutted to miss out for 2020. Having only done one event in the car, I need to get some seat time and get used to the car as it is completely different to drive to the Skoda. Clearly, we will be pushing as always for a strong result next year and doing a few doughnuts along the way!”
 In addition to FIA Group A & R4, pre-2001 FIA Homologated WRC and Pre-1990 FIA Homologated Group A, the list of cars eligible for Modified 4 will now include cars built to Appendix IV regulations with 34mm restrictors and a minimum weight of 1230kgs, with two additional allowances: the turbocharger is unrestricted, as is the intercooler, although it must be housed within the bodywork.
 Two further amendments to the regulations were also approved at last night’s EGM. The first, which sought to modify the structure of minimum weight limits, was proposed by current Group B competitor Andrew Jones and had prompted the CoM to call the EGM. The meeting agreed to an increase in the minimum weights across all classes of 150kgs for rallies and 75kgs for speed events, but with the competition weight now to be inclusive of driver (and navigator, where appropriate), rather than the car on its own.
 In addition, a change was agreed to Appendix IV Modified Regulations item 5 a) Wheels: while the maximum diameter remains at 18ins, the maximum rim width will now be 9ins (with no distinction between original equipment wheels and others), while the wheels do not necessarily have to be of the same diameter or width.

For media information only. No regulatory value.

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