With the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) innovative new ‘Test Stage’ just two weeks away (March 28), preparations are in high gear for the domestic rally and speed event season. As island drivers bring their competition cars to full readiness, so the local entries for Sol Rally Barbados have been flowing in, with last year’s winners Dane Skeete and Tyler Mayhew in their Sol/CO Williams Sand & Lime/Automotive Art Subaru Impreza WRC S12 topping approaching 30 already posted on-line.

Sol RB20, round three of the 2020 FIA NACAM Championship, is slated for Friday to Sunday, May 29 to 31, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill on May 23 and 24. In three decades, it has evolved from small beginnings as the All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar.

Skeete and Mayhew’s victory in their first Sol RB outing in the Impreza was widely acclaimed in the island, bringing the trophy back home for the first time since 2014, when Skeete’s father Roger claimed his 13th victory, co-driven in the same Impreza by Louis Venezia.

Also lining up in the four-wheel-drive classes will be Roger Hill and Graham Gittens, shifting from Modified 4 with their new Skoda Fabia R5, which has been spotted testing at Bushy Park recently. Mark Thompson and Kurt Seabra remain in Modified 4, in which they finished second to Hill and Gittens last year, in their Automotive Art/Glassesco/NKM Clothing/Bio Beauty/King Ocean Shipping Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.

Thompson’s brother Kurt is among the SuperModified 2 entries, co-driven by Adam Straker in his Glassesco/NKM Clothing/Bio-Beauty/King Ocean Shipping Honda Civic. Among those he will face are Rhett Watson and Bradley Weekes in the Chefette/Leafy Organics/Gliptone/Stihl/Gunk/Power King Batteries/Bajan Pure Water/Its Barbados BMW M3 in which they finished second in SM2 last year and the Park & Fly/Seawell Fitness Centre/D & A Air Conditioning/Arrow Woodworking Compact M3 campaigned by Derek Edwards and Damien Johnson, who are moving up from Modified 3.

There are two returnees of note to SM2: reigning Group B Champions Andrew Jones and Lindsey Pilkington (Herr’s Chips/Lucozade/AP Jones Pharmacy/Southern Surf Hotel/Peter Hinkson Racing/Autoderm Ford Escort MkII) rejoin a group in which they have enjoyed significant success in the past. Also Stuart McChlery and Julian Goddard with the Moore JCB/Lubriguard Lubricants/Gunk/Liquid Wrench Ford Escort MkI, which was last seen in the event in Sol SB18, when the island’s oldest rally car ran as high as 30th overall before retiring part-way through Sunday.

Among the early entries for SuperModified 1 are reigning SM1 Champion Ryan O Wood, co-driven by Shaquille Mayers in the MB Auto City/BizNeedz/Lucas Oil/Shonny’s Kitchen/MC Led/Island Guide/Exceptional Plumbing Services/Litt Marketing Toyota Starlet and former Champions Neil Corbin and Matthew Staffner (Nassco/Jason Jones/Auto Solutions/Valvoline/Sun General Insurance/Emtage Electric/General Electric Toyota Starlet).

Rally Club monitoring coronavirus situation closely

As the coronavirus pandemic impacts countries around the world, although there have been no cases reported in the island, senior officials of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) are monitoring the situation closely in the build-up to the late-May running of Sol Rally Barbados 2020. In a statement issued to the Club’s international competitor base today (Saturday), BRC and Sol RB Chairman Mark Hamilton described the over-riding priorities as: “Providing the best options for all stakeholders, that being the competitors, our commercial partners and the thousands of spectators; determining the time-lines in which decisions will need to be made by the event organising committee, presuming that Government mandates are not in place; reacting with efficient communication to all stakeholders of Government mandates impacting the event.

“Throughout this process, we are very conscious of the impact that this is having in your respective countries and what decisions you will need to make in your best interest. While we remain totally committed to every aspect of the event and are continuing to move ahead as normal, the significant shifts in direction by Governments, businesses and the community as a whole require that we monitor this situation daily in order to make an informed decision for the safety of all.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB20 marks the 13th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fifth by communications provider Flow.