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Organisers Make Ready For Sol Rally Barbados
Automotive Art Shakedown Stages steps countdown up a gear

The countdown to Sol Rally Barbados 2009, the Caribbean's biggest annual motor sport event, steps up a gear in 10 days' time (Sunday, May 3) when the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) stages the Automotive Art Shakedown Stages... four weeks in advance of the 20th running of its blue riband event.

Slated for a 9.00am start from Automotive Art's premises at Welches, St Michael, the event will be contested over 10 stages in the north of the island; Black Bess will be the base for service between each loop of two stages, also the venue for the lunch halt, the finish and a post-event social for competitors, marshals, officials and spectators.

Entries will close at 4.00pm on Monday (April 27); the Briefing Meeting will take place at 7.00pm the same day at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA), following which the entry list will be published.

The Automotive Art Shakedown Stages, which is round three of the BRC's Virgin Atlantic Driver's and Class Championships, is a key element of the build-up to Sol RB09 for a number of reasons: + it is the first chance for the year for competitors to enjoy a full day's sport on tarmac

+ first-time competitors intending to compete in Sol RB09 must enter this event in order to be eligible, so a number crews will be contesting a BRC event for the very first time

+ it provides an opportunity for the organising team to check out all systems

+ it also provides a few clues as to what might happen in Sol RB09 itself

The BRC anticipates a bumper entry for this year's event, including the first chance for island fans to see Paul Bourne, Roger Hill, Trevor Manning and Roger Skeete in action in the same event; the entries received on-line for Sol RB09 already include a number of newcomers, so quality and quantity should be the order of the day.

Next week's event is of particular importance from an organisational standpoint: the steady growth of Rally Barbados in recent years, and its burgeoning image and reputation worldwide, has required the BRC to become ever-more professional in its organisation, without losing the special appeal of relaxed motor sport in the region.

Sol RB09 Chairman Barry Gale notes: "This event is of supreme importance to Sol Rally Barbados - in every aspect, it is a dry run for our premier event, because it allows all of the officials to practice, and therefore fully understand, their roles for Sol RB09. This cannot be understated; we often have a turn-over of officials from one year to the next and, while it is easy to understand in principle what is expected of you, until you are submerged in the physical running of the event, you cannot always anticipate the issues that will come your way.

"Even for seasoned officials, next weekend is important - they probably need to dust out the cobwebs, learn some more about new competitors and their cars, and of course make sure the equipment they use is working as expected."

Sol Rally Barbados entries close on May Day

Competitors aiming to be among the maximum of 90 permitted starters for Sol Rally Barbados 2009 are being urged to remember that the closing date for entries is Friday, May 1 . . . just eight days' away and, with two Bank Holidays next week, they could do with getting their skates on. The entries received on-line are now well above 70, although a number of key players from island motor sport are still missing. Sol RB09 Chairman Barry Gale notes: "As we stand, there are about 15 slots still open; however, even though our European visitors are now within days of their deadline for shipping by Geest Line from Portsmouth, there has been an incredible amount of movement. I would urge every local driver who wants to be a part of the island's premier event to go on-line now and fill out the form."

Sol Rally Barbados 2009 (May 29-31) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 24) 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 Driver's and Class Championships. Associate sponsors include the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.