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Positive Feeback for Sol Rally Barbados
International and regional internet forums praise local organisers

During the Christmas and New Year break, word of Sol Rally Barbados 2009 has been spreading far and wide . . . and the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) promotion of the 20th running of its premier event has been earning plaudits on motor sport internet forums in the region and further afield. This upsurge in interest is timely, as the on-line entry form went 'live' on Friday (January 2), opening entries for local and overseas competitors earlier than ever before.

The Club's seven-minute promotional DVD, created by local firm Merville Lynch Productions, became available as a download from the event web site ( a few days before Christmas; already distributed to more than 50 prospective competitors and the motor sport media at two major British rallies in September, it is now available to a far wider audience through YouTube.

In the wake of last month's Petcom Rally Jamaica, where the highest-placed local crews in the four- and two-wheel-drive categories were awarded free entry and shipping for Sol Rally Barbados 2009, Jamaica's Dean Corrodus, a multiple champion as both competitor and event organiser, described the BRC's DVD as "simply top class" on the popular Wheels Jamaica internet forum.

Chris McFarlane, creator of the Jamspeed Adrenalin Rush reality TV programme which has featured Rally Barbados for the past two years, went even further: "What a really wonderful event, and the great thing is that it starts from now! Rally Jamaica, we need to pay the best tribute to the Barbados Rally Club and copy their lead, starting this kind of promotion for our event straight after Rally Barbados. I'll be there again in 2009, this time with more preparation and my regular co-driver. Well done, guys."

In rally-mad Ireland, the 2008 Sol Rally Barbados win by Ulster crew Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle has further fuelled interest in the event. The promotional DVD even gained its own 'thread' on the Irish Rallying forum, started by a member who posts under the pseudonym 'Tartanic', who wrote: "I know there is a link to this in the Rally Barbados thread, but I think the video is worthy of discussion in its own right. Looks like the Rally Barbados organisers are pretty good at promoting their event."

Among the responses was this from co-driver James Sharkey: "Excellent promo video, something a lot of clubs could take on board, also from a PR and tourism perspective. I wish Rally Barbados all the best and hope they don't become a victim of their own success, and keep the classes and modified stuff they have to allow everyone - whatever the budget - to compete."

Photographer Paul McIlroy added: "Irish and British Rally organisers, please watch the promotional video on the Sol Rally Barbados home page and note - this is how to promote an event! Well done to all in Barbados and continued success."

In a separate thread on the same forum, there were more enthusiastic comments. 'gdmotorsport models' wrote: "If you've never been to Barbados, you don't know what you're missing. Awesome place, wonderful people and wall-to-wall sunshine . . . oh, and the rallying's OK, too!"

British Rally Forum, the premier internet chat room in UK rallying with more than 17,000 members, also carries a thread devoted to Sol Rally Barbados, in which Paul Rees, a senior figure in British rally marshalling, commented: "The event itself is simply awesome, as a competitor, official or spectator. I've been in 2002 and 2007 as a spectator, 2003 as a driver and 2004, 2005 and 2006 driving a course safety car for the organisers. I missed 2008 due to lack of holidays, but will be back in 2009."

British production company Acceleration TV's coverage of the 2008 action has also been attracting comment; a 90-minute programme broadcast in four languages on Motors TV across Europe during the week before Christmas, it included footage of island life, including road tennis, rum shop dominos and the Oistins Fish Fry, alongside the event report. Sol Rally Barbados 2008 Group N winner Ryan Champion wrote: "Thought the coverage was great! It gave a real feel for the unique atmosphere. Hope to be back again next year." Photographer Ryan Wainwright remarked: "Watched it this evening on Motors TV. Does look really good, with an amazing atmosphere".

Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Barry Gale said: "To have competitors and rally fans overseas making remarks like that about our promotion is really encouraging, and to see someone say that clubs in Europe could learn from us makes me very proud. The electronic media is becoming more and more important when promoting events, and we know that we are hitting our target market head-on."

Sol Rally Barbados 2009 (May 30/31) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group, the Caribbean's largest independent oil company, and both events are rounds of the Virgin Atlantic BRC RallySport Championship.