Gill leads Barbados crews against regional rivals in Rally Trinidad

In a first for Caribbean motor sport, the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), organiser of Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10), has partnered with Going Places Travel to launch a series of specially-tailored travel packages targeted at the hundreds of motor sport fans in the region. Inclusive of round trip airfare, all taxes and fees, hotel and rental car, prices for a three-night package start at just US $494.

The regional push is the final component of the BRC’s overseas promotion to be announced. Supported by the island’s private-sector Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), the programme also includes prize drives offered to the winners of the 2011 Roger Albert Clark Rally in the north of England and 2012 Rallye Sunseeker National in the south, while two marshals who work over the Easter weekend on the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland will also enjoy trips across the Atlantic.

BRC PRO Neil Barnard explained: “The promotion has two strands – first, we want to tap into the regional spectator market in a more structured way, by offering a better package than individuals might themselves negotiate. Second, and just as important, it will also give the Club and our partners in island tourism a better way to quantify the numbers travelling. We have pretty accurate figures for competitors, their teams and the media – more than 50 last year, for instance, representing around 300 tourist nights – but the spectator attendance has only been an estimate. Space is limited, so anyone wanting to take advantage of the promotion is advised to book early.”

The packages, which are being advertised in print and electronic media across the region, offer travel from Antigua, Jamaica, St Vincent & The Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago; they are available for either three or ten nights, with a choice of four hotels, three on the south coast, one on the west, with slight price variations. Hotel and rental car packages are also available. Full details of the promotion, which has been launched this week to coincide with Rally Trinidad, can be found at www.going-places.tv.

Duane Boodasingh of the popular trinituner.com web site in Trinidad added: “These travel packages are an excellent idea from the Barbados Rally Club. I can imagine the other legs, Rally Trinidad and Rally Jamaica, adopting similar packages in the future to create a truly cohesive Caribbean Rally experience in the region! Given the calibre of these events, it’s Sport Tourism at its best!”

Gill leads Barbados crews against regional rivals in Rally Trinidad

Double Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Champion Driver Sean Gill represents Club and country this weekend (March 30-April 1) in Rally Trinidad. With regular co-driver Michael Cummins in the Simpson Motors/Shell V-Power/Automotive Art Suzuki SX4 WRC, he will be looking to start the Caribbean tour with a victory, after finishing second in RT for the past two years, also in RJ last December.

Along with Sol RB12 (June 9/10) and Rally Jamaica in December, Rally Trinidad makes up the ‘Big Three’ in regional rallying; while Barbados hosts a tarmac event, the other regional ‘legs’ are loose-surface, each with a distinctive character. So far, only Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton has won all three . . . and it took him 13 years to achieve that.

Six times the winner at home between 1994 and 2008, Panton won the BRC’s premier event in 1998 – he was the first regional driver to do so – then ticked the final box in Trinidad last year at the wheel of his ex-Colin McRae Ford Focus WRC00. In terms of the ‘Big Three’, he has the best record – eight wins across the region – and his recent purchase of a Focus WRC06 suggests he could continue to be the man to beat.

Panton’s fellow countryman Gary Gregg is not far behind in the regional pecking order, with five wins in Jamaica since 2005, plus Barbados in ’06. Armed now with a Focus WRC05, he is another target for Gill, along with Jamaica’s John Powell (Subaru Impreza WRC S14), who rallies under the flag of his adopted home country, Trinidad & Tobago, where he has won three times – 2005, ’06 & ’10 – along with Jamaica last year.

Also in action from Barbados are James Betts in the ex-Kirk Watkins Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V, Trevor Manning, who will drive Powell’s Group N Evo X, and Harold Morley (Impreza N14).

Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are organised and promoted 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

Sean Gill/Michael Cummins on their way to second place in Rally Trinidad 2011, photo by Gerrard Wilson Photography

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