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Sol Rally Barbados Confirms Panton and Skeete
Hall tunes in to Barbados Celtic Festival

Jamaica's Jeffrey Panton, winner of Sol Rally Barbados 2015, and local rallying legend Roger Skeete, who has won 13 times in the event's 26-year history, were both confirmed today (April 8) for this year's edition of the Caribbean's biggest annual motor sport International, which will run from Friday to Sunday, June 3-5.

They join Britain's Rob Swann, who finished second on the occasion of Skeete's most recent victory in 2014, on the list of potential front-runners in the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) blue riband event. The previous weekend (May 28/29) offers local enthusiasts their first chance to see overseas crews up close, then in action, at Scrutineering and King of the Hill, the results of which provide the basis for seeding Sol RB16.

Panton's victory last year was his second, having previously become the first regional winner in a Toyota Celica GT4 in 1998; with co-driver Mike Fennell Jnr alongside in the Rubis/Total/Sandals Barbados Ford Focus WRC06, he went on to win Rally Jamaica 2015, reinforcing his reputation as the region's most successful driver.

Twice the Caribbean Rally Champion (1996 & '98), Panton is unique in having won regional rallying's 'Big Three', on tarmac in Barbados (1998, 2015), and on the loose in Jamaica (nine times between 1994 and 2015) and Trinidad & Tobago (2011 & '13); he has also finished on the podium in all three for two straight seasons (2012 & '13).

All of that, however, paled into insignificance at Sol RB15, when Panton said: "It was by far the most difficult rally to win that I have ever competed in. The pace was absolutely on the limit from start to end and to win against such a quality field means a lot. This has definitely gone down in my history book as the most accomplished result."

For 2016, however, Panton may face an even tougher challenge, as his car has been back in the UK for a refresh: "We haven't been in the car since Rally Jamaica and won't be competing until King of the Hill, so we will have a lot of catching up to do!"

It is not that much different for either Skeete or Swann, however. The former has not rallied his Sol/Flow/Automotive Art/Electronics on Edge Subaru Impreza WRC S12B since Sol RB15, so will first see action in the Sunoco Shakedown Stages on April 24. His opposition in the 10-stage event will include Swann, competing for the first time in a sister car, having replaced his Impreza S11 with an S12B. With no chance for testing before his car was shipped across the Atlantic, it will be a real shakedown for Swann.

Skeete's record-breaking story started in the first year of the International All-Stage Rally, from which Sol RB has evolved. That 1990 victory came in a Peugeot 205GTi, the first of a hat-trick of wins; he won twice more in the same car, within the first six years of the event, adding win number six in a Peugeot 306 S16 in 1997. A second hat-trick came between 2000 and 2002 in Ford Escorts, with another win in 2004, before a lean patch – by Skeete's very high standards – was ended in 2010, with the first of three wins in the S12B, with co-driver Louis Venezia, who sits with him again this year.

Hall tunes in to Barbados Celtic Festival

Sol Rally Barbados regular Kenny Hall is looking forward to celebrating his Scottish roots in the Caribbean in May, while preparing to chase a sixth class win in the Barbados Rally Club's premier event. The Barbados Celtic Festival (May 26-29) is back on the island's cultural calendar after a short absence, including for the first time the Fiddlers Rally, and Hall has happy memories of the last time the two events coincided.

Festival organiser Carol Anderson arranged for Hall to meet one of the fiddlers near his home in the Scottish Borders yesterday (Thursday), so they could compare notes about their respective rallies. He took the Halltune Garage/Sporting Pig Sports Bar and Restaurant Ford Puma with him, while award-winning musician Jeana Leslie from Orkney arrived with her fiddle.

Anderson said: "While we're not too sure about Kenny's ability on the fiddle, the rally car really got Jeana going. She's already pals with Allan Mackay, another of your regulars from north of the border, so I can see some serious partying in the Gap, once everyone is reunited in the island."

Leslie even got to become a Fiddler on the Roof (of the rally car), which Hall has just finished preparing ready to ship across the Atlantic at the end of the month. Having missed the event only once since 2002, he said: "I'm lucky my birthday falls at Rally Barbados time every year, and I'm looking forward to the trip. The last time the Celtic Festival was on at the same time, we had a great craic and I'm sure we will do again."

The Celtic Festival ( will also give Hall and Mackay, plus the event and the island, some additional media exposure, as STV (Scottish Television) is sending a crew to the island to cover the event.

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 the previous Sunday's King of the Hill 'shakedown' event, 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.