Home / Cars / Motorsports / News / Celebration Time for Sol Rally Barbados


Celebration Time for Sol Rally Barbados
Evolution of island's premier event continues into its third decade

Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30) will mark the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) International All-Stage Rally with a fresh new look: all but one of the event's special stage venues has undergone some significant modification, while the restructured route abounds with changes over the two days.

An entry strong in quality and quantity brings together the cream of the island's home-grown talent to face nearly 30 overseas crews in the Caribbean's biggest annual International motor sport event; the healthy overseas entry, running counter to the world's economic challenges, is a glowing endorsement of the appeal of the island's sports-tourism product.

Sol RB2010 Chairman Barry Gale told a Media Conference at the Rally HQ hotel, the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort in Barbados today (April 26): "We will not be revealing full details for another two weeks or so, but I can confirm that there will be only two stage venues during each day; there is no loss in stage distance, in fact it is slightly increased, but we must be mindful of our responsibilities to those who live along the route and continue to do our very best to limit disruption.

"There will again be a total of 24 special stages, but with a new twist in the tail – although we are not yet ready to confirm the location, the Shell V-Power SuperSpecial on Sunday afternoon will play an even more important role in the outcome of the event than before, as times from the two runs will be included in the event results for the first time, as special stages 23 and 24."

Ten-time winner, local ace Roger Skeete, heads an entry list that includes all but one of the previous winners from around the region; he and fellow-countrymen Paul Bourne and Trevor Manning, plus Jamaicans Gary Gregg and Jeffrey Panton, will all do battle for the first time since 2007 – only Bajan Roger Mayers, who won in 2005, is missing, now devoting his energies to circuit racing.

As last year, the BRC's maximum of 90 entries has been exceeded, and there's another four days to go before the official closing date (April 30); the provisional entry list will be published on Monday, May 10. Competitors listed represent 12 countries outside Barbados - four more than in 2009 – with growth reflected regionally and internationally.

Sol Rally Barbados 2009 was responsible for just over 2,250 visitor nights during the off-season month of May, and an estimated injection of more than Bds $2,100,000 into the local economy, much of it in valuable foreign exchange. Further growth is projected this year, particularly from the wider Caribbean; the 10-strong entry is twice as many as last year, and the first time the number has reached double figures in recent history.

Not only has this success in tourist markets encouraged greater support in recent years from the Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, but has also helped fuel the partnership between the BRC and title sponsor, the Sol Group; the region's largest independent oil company confirmed in February that it was renewing its initial sponsorship deal for a second three-year period.

Retail Executive of Sol (Barbados) Ltd, Denise Mendes, said: "While the tremendous local and international media coverage and the thousands of fans who line the stages are important elements of how we assess the value of our sponsorship, the progress made by the Rally Club in developing closer links with Government and other supporting agencies in the island is a factor, too.

"Sol is proud of its contribution to the development of motor sport, especially the growth of Sol Rally Barbados into a key player in sports tourism, because that means we are also contributing to the development of the island as a whole; over the next five weeks or so, 'rally fever' will grip the island, as fans wait for confirmation of the entries and the stage venues, and then finally see the cars at Scrutineering. We are very happy to be a part of that celebration of motor sport."

Barbados Rally Club Chairman Geoffrey Noel added: "Everyone in the Club was delighted to hear that Sol wanted to renew for a further three years; this is the largest single sponsorship deal in the Club's 53-year history and has played a vital part in helping us towards our aim of creating a sustainable sports tourism product and thereby make a meaningful contribution to the economy of Barbados."

Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30) 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. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art, Banks Holdings and Karcher; official partners are the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Authority, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Geest Line and Virgin Atlantic Airways; associate sponsors are Stoute's Car Rental and Little Switzerland.