FIA winners Maloney and Paddon in 85-strong entry

FIA Rookie of the Year Barbadian Zane Maloney completes the 85-strong provisional entry list for Sol Rally Barbados 2023, which was confirmed today (Wednesday) at a Media Briefing in the Open-Air Suites at Bushy Park Barbados. Among others, the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Vice-Champion will face New Zealand’s most successful rally driver Hayden Paddon, who last weekend sealed victory in the FIA Pacific Cup for the third time and is also the current leader of the 70th Anniversary FIA European Rally Championship.

Sol RB23, the 33rd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, will start with the floodlit Sol SuperSpecial at Bushy Park Barbados at 7.00pm on Friday, June 9. After two days of action in the northern and eastern parishes, the event will finish with the Honda SuperSpecial at 4.30pm on Sunday back at the St Philip facility. The Rally Show and First Citizens King of the Hill are on the previous weekend, June 3 & 4.

Last year, ‘The Boy from Barbados’ became the youngest winner of KotH at age 18 but retired from Sol RB22 when lying third after contact with a power pole on Sunday’s first stage; this year, Maloney misses KotH, which clashes with what would have been the last of three back-to-back FIA Formula 2 races in Europe until the first (at Imola) was cancelled today because of life-threatening floods in the area. With backing from Red Bull, Visit Barbados, CGI, Clifton Market, Bayview Hospital and Sixt Car Rentals, Maloney and co-driver Kreigg Yearwood will campaign a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo.

Production World Rally Champion in 2011, Paddon will have contested five major rallies by the time he arrives for Sol RB23, having travelled from New Zealand to Europe and back twice and then on to the Caribbean. In his first European campaign since 2017, he won in Portugal then finished second in the Canary Islands, with round three to come in Poland next weekend (May 20/21). Back home, the 36-year-old Kiwi has won the first two rounds of the NZRC, a title he has won six times since 2008, victory in last weekend’s Rally of Whangarei (May 12-14) confirming him as FIA Pacific Cup Champion for the third time; he also leads the overall FIA Asia Pacific standings.

In Barbados, supported by the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), Automotive Art and Valvoline, he will face Maloney in the 13-strong FIA R5 class in a Hyundai i20 R5 co-driven by fellow Kiwi John Kennard and run by regular island visitor Andy Scott’s Albatec Racing team.

At the Briefing Meeting, Rally Director Neil Barnard was joined on the top table by Brian Cadogan, Sol’s Regional Manager, Barbados Market, Walwyn Williams, Deputy CEO of First Citizens Bank Barbados, BTMI Chairman Shelly Williams and the BTMI’s recently-appointed Sports Manager Kamal Springer.

Barnard said: “We are so grateful for the support of all our sponsors and partners, particularly our title sponsor Sol who have provided the commitment and stability that has allowed us to improve and grow this event to the amazing thing it is today. The BTMI, the TDC and our King of The Hill sponsor, First Citizens, also deserve a special ‘shout out’ for their enthusiasm and willingness to support and embrace the sport, also Bushy Park where we are sitting now for their huge commitment to the event.”

Although not a competitor, Barnard also highlighted the participation of the now-retired international co-driver Paul Nagle as a Safety Advisor. Nagle won the FIA-sanctioned Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009 with fellow Northern Irishman Kris Meeke and went on to win five World Rally Championship events between 2015 and ’17, but they are perhaps best known in the island for their victories in Sol RB08 and ’09.

Nagle brings more than 25 years’ experience of national and international rallying to his new role, which he will share with the Rally Club’s officials on the ground. Safety and care for the community is a vital aspect of all planning ahead of Sol Rally Barbados, as Barnard emphasised: “Rallying cannot happen without the cooperation of the people of Barbados. We know that every year we attract hundreds of competitors and fans to our island and there are thousands of local rally fans that come out to watch the action, but we must respect the people and communities that we rally within. That respect and cooperation is essential to the sustainability of our sport.”

The decision to host the Media Briefing at Bushy Park Barbados for the first time is a recognition of the key role it is playing in Sol RB23: the floodlit Sol SuperSpecial on Friday, June 9, will run on a variation of the Race Of Champions configuration, two cars at a time and in reverse order of seeding to build to a thrilling climax as the evening progresses. Sunday’s Honda SuperSpecial and Rally Finish will use a more conventional stage layout in daylight, with times recorded included in the final results.

In addition to a number of cars driven by regional and international regulars already based at the St Philip facility, it is again Rally Central, hosting overseas visitors whose cars arrived at the Bridgetown Port yesterday (Tuesday) on board the Geest Line freighter Baltic Klipper, bringing the number of crews housed there to more than 20. Bushy Park is also the venue for The Rally Show (June 3), the Service Park for First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) and for the second day of Sol RB23 (June 11), along with the Rally Office, which is the event’s administrative hub, scrutineering, and pre-event track testing sessions.

Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; First Citizens King of the Hill (June 4) runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for Sol RB23.

For media information only. No regulatory value.