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Sol Rally Barbados 2017, which will cover the longest route since 2004, could prove to be the toughest in the 28-year history of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event. From Friday night’s Ceremonial Start at Sol Warrens to Sunday’s final timed stage at Bushy Park Barbados, the pressure will be relentless for the 93 crews confirmed on the provisional entry list at the Media Briefing at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Rockley on May 10.
As the BRC marks its 60th Anniversary, the Sol RB17 committee set out to create a challenge worthy of the celebration, with significant changes to the structure of the main event and those leading up to it. The Simpson Motors Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill (May 27/28) will offer fans unrivalled opportunities to meet local, regional and international competitors, then see them in action as they fight for seeding position.
After crews are flagged away from the Friday evening Ceremonial Start, they will head straight for two seven-kilometre stages in the north of the island; by the time they get to bed, they will have tackled more than 10 per cent of the total stage distance, so will need to be on their toes from the start. The remaining 20 stages on Saturday and Sunday are a mix of familiar territory and new ground, culminating in a tricky, technical 2kms stage at Bushy Park Barbados, the final timed stage.
Island legend and 13-time winner Roger Skeete (Subaru Impreza WRC S12B) and Jamaica’s Jeffrey Panton (Ford Focus WRC06), who claimed his third victory last year, head a talent-packed entry for Sol RB17. Britain’s Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta) and Rob Swann (Impreza S12B) head the 44-strong overseas entry, which has strong representation right through the field. Including host nation Barbados, the entry includes participants from a record 17 countries, with 80 overseas drivers or co-drivers, 30 new to the event; as the FIA’s Women in Motorsport movement continues to grow, Sol RB17 can boast a record 18 female competitors (from a record eight countries), while there are cars from 15 manufacturers, Ford best-represented with 19, followed by BMW (17), Mitsubishi (13) and Toyota (9).