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They may be separated by miles of ocean, but the islands of Barbados in the southern Caribbean and Newfoundland in Canada have linked hands in a cooperative effort that could see the winner of the keystone motorsports event in each location take part in the other.

The agreement between Sol Rally Barbados and Targa Newfoundland to provide a free entry as a prize to the winner of each other’s event is part of a promotional drive by the two organizers to solidify a base of high quality tarmac rally competitions in North America.

Sol Rally Barbados has already taken the first step. The Caribbean’s largest international motorsport event was completed May 31 and a representative of the Barbados Rally Club will carry the flag of that nation at the 2009 Targa Newfoundland. Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle won the grueling three-day contest in a Subaru Impreza WRC S9. Because of a scheduling conflict, Meeke and Nagle cannot make Targa Newfoundland but donated their entry to the Barbados Rally Club, which will send a top finisher in their stead.

The winner of the eighth annual Targa Newfoundland will get an invitation to next spring’s Sol Rally Barbados in return.

“Until recently, tarmac rallies have been a bit of a curiosity in much of North America,” explains Targa Newfoundland organizer Robert Giannou. “But that is about to change. With long established events like Rally Barbados and Rally Jamaica at one end, and eight years of successful Targa Newfoundland at the other, we are starting to see more paved road rally events turn up around North America. With at least two events in Canada and two in the U.S., there are enough tarmac rallies to create a terrific season for competitors.”

Sol Rally Barbados organizer Barry Gale agrees. “Our event has attracted an international field of competitors for years, proving that high quality tarmac rallies have appeal no matter where they are. To have a calendar of great events in North America – even as far apart as we are – is an important step in developing the sport.”

History buff Giannou points out that linkages between islands of the Caribbean and his home in Newfoundland run deep. “We have been trading partners for years, going back to the days of rum and salt exchanged for cod and timber,” he says. “Our histories are intertwined. Getting together with Sol Rally Barbados is like catching up with old friends.”

Owned and operated by Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited, Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. The 8th annual Targa Newfoundland will start in St. John’s on Saturday, September 12, 2009, and end back in the capital Saturday, September 19. The competition will cover more than 2,000 kilometres of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of the island of Newfoundland, including up to 400 kilometres of closed-road, flat-out Targa stages. Competitors have come from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Holland, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos and the U.K. for the first seven editions of Targa Newfoundland and international interest continues to build with competitors registering daily.

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