Sat | Jan 20, 2018

B'dos, Ireland reconnect through rally

Published:Sunday | March 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
File Barbadian Harold Morley, a crowd favourite with the Jamaican motor sport fans.
File Jeffrey Panton's Ford Focus airborne during Rally Jamaica 2013. The Sol Rally Barbados is run on tarmac.

B'dos, Ireland reconnect through rally

The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is renewing its partnership with the Circuit of Ireland, one of the world's oldest rallies, which marks its 85th anniversary this year. In association with the island's Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), the BRC is again offering two Irish motorsport volunteers a chance to enjoy the 2016 Sol Rally Barbados from June 3 - 5.

In addition to continuing as a round of the FIA European Rally Championship and the FIA ERC Junior, Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland Rally Championships, the Circuit also returns to the British Rally Championship. The event has moved away from its traditional Easter date and will run from April 7.

The newly relaunched BRC (there was no British Championship last year) made a huge impact when it kicked off at the Mid-Wales Stages on March 5 and 6. There was fierce competition on the stages, Elfyn Evans beating Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin by just 17 seconds, with Tom Cave third. They all drove Ford Fiesta R5s.

The prize on offer to the Irish volunteers, for which the two winners' names will be drawn out of a hat, includes return flights from London Gatwick to Barbados, accommodation and a shared rental car. As well as Sol RB16, the trip encompasses Simpson Motors Scrutineering and King of the Hill the previous weekend. All volunteers over 17 years old will automatically be entered.

Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis said "we're absolutely thrilled to once again work together with Sol Rally Barbados and the Tourism Development Corporation. Two such different events joining together is a real partnership across the ocean".

Barbados Rally Club chairman, Mark Hamilton, said "our seven-year association with the TDC has helped us to promote our event, and Barbados as a destination, to the rally-mad Irish with tremendous success. We are two islands with rallying at the heart of our culture, so there is a natural fit."

Ten-time competitor in Sol Rally Barbados, Britain's Kevin Procter, has confirmed that he will contest the FIA European Rallycross Championship this season in a Ford Fiesta Supercar, but it will not affect his participation in Sol RB16. Procter last competed regularly in Europe in 2012, but has made selected FIA World Rallycross Championship appearances since, notably at Loheac in France and Lydden Hill in the UK.

Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 22 special stages run on the island's intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport and Works.