With the return of a multiple Champion, upgrades galore and some determined International competition, the Modified classes in Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) promise to keep the fans entertained long after the battles for supremacy overall and in two-wheel-drive have passed through each stage.
In Modified 7 (1600-2000cc), five former Barbados Rally Club (BRC) M7 Champions will go head-to-head, with the return of Edward Corbin, who won a hat-trick of titles starting in 2003. Since moving down and winning M6 in 2009, he has concentrated on circuit racing, crowned Overall Barbados Auto Racing League Champion for the past two years.
Now driving the ex-Freddie Gale Toyota Corolla RunX, he should be at the sharp end, along with the car’s former owner, the M7 Champion in 2009 & 10; Gale won the class in Sol RB11, but has since been having issues with his newer RunX. Also in the fray are brothers Adrian and Jonathan Linton (hat-trick Champions in 2006-’08) with their untried new Vauxhall Astra SRi, reigning Champion Jeremy Sisnett (Ford Fiesta) ‘- he won the title in his comeback season after a long break – and 2001 winner John Corbin (Corolla).
This year, however, Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic) has won M7 in all three Virgin Atlantic BRC Championship rounds and currently leads the overall driver table; others to watch for include Kyle Catwell (Volkswagen Golf GTI) and Chris Ullyett, who always shows well, despite this being the only annual outing for his Ford Escort RS2000.
In M6 (1401-1600cc), Neil Corbin (Starlet) is ahead so far in local events while Champion for the last two years, Jamal Brathwaite (Mitsubishi Mirage), has missed a couple. Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his first trip to Barbados, Scotland’s Kenny Hall brings his Super 1600 Ford Puma back for another crack at M6 with co-driver, Holland’s Fenny Wesselink, while Jeremy Gonsalves will debut his brand new Opel Corsa.
In M5 (up to 1400cc), Sean Cox (Suzuki Swift) ploughs a lonely furrow in local events, as the class is merged up to M6 for BRC points, so Sol RB is the highlight of his season. He won the class last year by a mere nine seconds from Northern Ireland’s Glenn Campbell, who again leads the International invasion in his Nissan Micra Kit Car. Returnee Peter Gallagher from Dublin has brought the Talbot Samba he last rallied 15 years ago out of storage, while Stuart Deeley from the North of England makes his Barbados debut in a John Hardman-owned Nissan Micra.
Power Stage a fitting climax to the weekend
The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has confirmed its plans to create a fitting climax to the 2012 running of the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, with the island’s first-ever ‘Power Stage’ at the end of Sol Rally Barbados and a return to the traditional post-event social.
The fastest driver in each class on the Power Stage will win a case of Banks beer, while the top three local finishers will also earn bonus points towards the Virgin Atlantic BRC Class Championship, on the scale three-two-one. Given sufficient time, the organisers also hope to reverse the Top 20.
The 7.8-kilometre Sol Stewarts Hill stage is comfortably the longest in the event; at 39 kilometres over five runs, this stage represents nearly one-third of the entire stage distance, so will play a key role in the outcome of Sol RB12. Alternating with five runs of LIME Kendal, it will run northbound from Padmore Village twice in the morning, then southbound three times after lunch; the final run south is the Power Stage.
The focal point throughout the day will be to the south of Bushy Park, where the BRC will have a large bar area selling food and beverages, and there will be live commentary. Designated parking areas will be marked out for competitors, including parc ferme for end-of-rally technical checks, also for service crews and spectators.
BRC PRO Neil Barnard said: “It’s what the end of a rally used to be like. Once each crew has completed the stage, a short 10-minute transit will take everyone directly to the finish; competitors will be able to gather right alongside the stage for one big lime, see some action and share the stories of the last two days. It should be a fantastic way for everyone to relax after a long, hard weekend.”
Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) and Sol Go Further/Scotiabank King of the Hill (June 3) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007; title sponsor is the Sol Group. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, LIME, Automotive Art, Banks and Karcher; official partners are the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Authority, Tourism Development Corporation, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Geest Line and Virgin Atlantic Airways; associate sponsors are Chefette, Climate Control, Field Insurance, Glacial Pure, Little Switzerland, Redline Fuels, Scotiabank and Stoute’s Car Rental.
The rear panel of Scottish driver Kenny Hall’s Ford Puma bears witness to the 10th Anniversary of his first rally in Barbados. Photo by Melissa Costin-Hurley.