Nearly 200 International competitors can benefit from the incentive programme on offer from the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) for next year’s running of the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international, Sol Rally Barbados. On-line entries 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, the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF), 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.

While first-time overseas visitors will pay the standard entry and shipping package from Europe of US$2,600 per car, the real costs of which are already subsidised by the BRC by around one-third, those who have participated before will enjoy further discounts ranging from around 10 to nearly 40 per cent.

Of the 199 competitors from outside the Caribbean who have taken part since 2001, 35 have visited three or more times, clocking up an impressive total of 163 trans-Atlantic trips between them; of these, English BMW ace Martin Stockdale stands out as the event’s most loyal supporter – he has not missed an event in 11 years – while Scotland’s Kenny Hall has competed nine times, England’s Andrew Costin-Hurley eight.

Even the 115 competitors who have visited just once, and there were 21 newcomers in 2011, can benefit from a US$250 discount; the rising scale offers discounts of US$500 (two previous visits), US$750 (three) and US$1000 (four or more), the highest level representing around 38 per cent off the standard package.

Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Barry Gale said: “We introduced our incentive programme when our premier event celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2010, in part to thank those Clubmen competitors from Europe whose contribution had played such a major role in our event’s success. The feedback was so good that we decided to maintain tiered entry fees for 2011, and again for 2012.”

“The good thing is that our initial fears that the policy might result in an overseas entry list filled only by repeat visitors were unfounded; over the past two years, we’ve had the chance to host 40 first-timers to our event, and a good number of the enquiries about 2012 have come from names that are new to us, so it certainly looks as though we’re going to continuing making new friends.”

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.

This year, the maximum entry was increased from 90 to 100 cars after Sol RB10 had been over-subscribed by 20 per cent; this new cap was reached one month before entries closed for 2011, with the total finally reaching 113 entries, with 31 from overseas. A combination of financial and preparation difficulties for local, regional and international crews, however, meant that number had diminished by the time Sol RB11 started, and it was not necessary to enforce the 100 cap.

Gale concluded: “Our decision to move up to 100 was largely made to ensure that we could accommodate the continued regional and international interest, even though financial and other factors mean we have not yet had to apply the cap and disappoint any prospective competitors. There is a structure to the entry process that guarantees fairness for local and overseas competitors, and I really can’t wait for entries to open to see how it is balancing out.”

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 the 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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