Entries open on October 1

On-line entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2012 will open on Saturday, October 1, on the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.bb. Subject to final ratification by the island’s governing body, Sol RB12 will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 9/10, with Scrutineering and the Shell V-Power King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ the previous weekend, June 2/3.

From small beginnings in 1990, the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event has grown into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international; it is one of the strongest sporting brand names in the region, particularly for visitors from Europe, and a key player in the country’s increasingly-important sports-tourism product. Annually, the event contributes in excess of Bds $2 million to the island’s economy, much of it in valuable foreign exchange, and accounts for around 2,500 visitor nights at a traditionally quiet time in the tourism calendar.

Over the past two years, no fewer than 40 first-time visitors have carried to 257 the number of overseas competitors hosted by the event; drivers and co-drivers from the wider Caribbean now number 58, from four territories, while the International list now stands just one short of 200. Newcomers from Australia, Germany and South Africa also increased to 18 the number of countries outside the region represented in recent years.

Rally Chairman Barry Gale is looking forward to 2012 with interest: “I admit to having been surprised, and delighted, by the response from competitors over the past two years, when we have all been facing such tough economic challenges. As well as welcoming back Barbados regulars, we made new friends from around the world – among the 21 overseas competitors tackling the event for the first time, one even made a round trip of more than 36,000kms from Australia!

“Our first enquiry about next year’s event came within hours of the Prize-giving for Sol RB11, since when we have received many more by e-mail, and through our web site, and I’m pleased to say that, once again, many are names that are new to us.”

Sol Rally Barbados is a two-day tarmac rally, with 24 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, temporarily closed by permission of the Ministry of Transport & Works; Shell V-Power King of the Hill, run under a similar arrangement, features four timed runs on a stage that will not feature the following weekend and is used to seed the running order for the main event.

For 2011, the maximum entry was increased from 90 to 100 cars after the previous year’s event had been over-subscribed by 20 per cent; this new cap, which was reached one month before entries closed this year, will remain in place for 2012. Gale added: “Our decision to move up to 100 was largely made to ensure that we could accommodate the continued regional and international interest. There is a structure to the entry process that guarantees fairness for local and overseas competitors, and I frankly can’t wait for entries to open to see how it is balancing out.”

Beyond announcing the opening of entries, the Club will not confirm any further details until later in the year, as Gale confirms: “As we do every year, we are having a good, close look at how the event ran, studying those changes that we made to see what worked, and what could perhaps be improved . . . and I have to say that getting through the two days without the cancellation of a single stage was testament to the hard work put in by everyone involved in the event.”

“On behalf of the entire organising team, I would like to congratulate our title sponsor, the Sol Group, all our other Marketing Partners, the volunteer marshals and, of course, the competitors for enabling the Barbados Rally Club to put on such a fantastic show.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB12 is the 23rd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks fifth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

web sites: www.rallybarbados.bb; www.barbadosrallyclub.com

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