Written by Robin Bradford of the Barbados Rally Club
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 Rally Jamaica 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.