Folks, after 5 days in Barbados with lots of sights, sounds, and sips, here's the official and unofficial wrap up to the Region's largest motorsport event, and eh hem.....largest motorsport lime.The lead up
- Many of the spectators arrive a few days before the big Rally just to get some beach time and patronize the local bar scene. None of this is organized by the Barbados Rally Club, but with a small island surrounded by spectacular beaches, restaurants and easy going night life, warming up to the weekend from the Wednesday night is pretty easy to do. Probably made a lot easier this year with the public holiday in Trinidad last week Thursday.
Trini Support Crew - Usually found in Mojo's Bar (The Bajan one) on the south coast road on the Thursday night till shortly after midnight then many of us can be found wondering around the GAP until we find our beds in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Friday is definitely beach day as you try to find some shade to recover from the previous night's activities. Its also the last chance you get to figure out which spot you are going to watch the Rally at. MY ADVICE - link up with people who have already gone in previous years or some Bajans as some of the locations don't exactly have street signs and its just easier to follow people on Saturday morning rather than read google maps.Actual Rally
- For someone who has only ever attended a Trini Rally, here is what to expect:
- CROWD! - Rally Barbados is like Trini Carnival, but the Bajan's love Rally like we love Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Every man, woman, child, and stray dog knows what is going on. Its typical to find 1000 people on a random S-bend, and this will just be 1 area of 1 stage (3 different stages run simultaneously)
- Cars and more cars - 100 cars were entered in this event, over 30 International, and i think 6 regional teams entered. Cars fly past every 30-seconds (no dust to deal with) and its typical to see cars overtaking as the running order gets mixed up throughout the day. Attrition rate is super high though and less than 60% make it to the end of Day 1, and less than 50% even come close to finishing.
- HOT! - In Barbados the sun is apparently closer to the earth, and sun block, umbrellas, tents, tarps, and just about anything that you can find to take shelter is a good idea. ICE is sold in 25lb bags and you are going to want to buy more than you think you will need. Buy all the drinks and eats on the morning of or the night before, as its typical for every gas station and small grocery to run out of ice, sodas, and other eats and drinks by 8am on Saturday morning.
- Move Early - People are on the stage at 6:30am for a 9:45am start - the really good spots will have people camping out from the night before. THE CARS
- There is something like 10 classes of cars - check it out officially at the http://www.rallybarbados.bb
website. Everything from 10 WRC spec Focus, Subbies, and Suzuki's to the long list of BMW's to the historic cars of the Escorts, Starlets, Alfa Romeros, you name it. And the odd Lotus Elise in the middle of the order.
- By comparison WRC Mexico this year only had 12 WRC championship cars entered out of a full field of approx. 30 entrants.
- The vast majority of the 2WD cars are all naturally aspirated and the top guys like Neil Armstrong, Josh Reid, the Watson and Mayers brothers, James Betts, Ian Warren, Neil Corbin, the list goes on, all sound like some sort of Formula 1 Rally car revving to well over 9000rpm with 6-spd sequential dog boxes.
- The lineup is spectacular for just about any Rally in the world and some of the 2WD monsters trade times with most of the WRC field.The Competition
- Judging by the amount of classes, as well as the shear size of the entry list you would be correct in assuming that the competition is fierce. What makes this Rally very interesting to follow is that you can find a 'battle' right through the lineup and cars from the lead to the back of the pack are often within 100th of a second off of one another.
- The lead change hands a few times well and Gill was actually leading on Sunday morning if not for his latest bout of bad luck with a blown engine.
- Bajans are a committed bunch, despite having the 'local knowledge' advantage and they adapt well to changing surface conditions and the weather - they drive hard and fight for every inch of usable road. Don't go with even the slightest thought of winning anything on your first try. Its taken Paul Bird 6 attempts to finally win it in the best machinery that money can buy and a very successful Rally resume to back it up.The Stages
- Short, fast, slippery, and if you think Trinidad's culverts are dangerous, the Bajan cut rock (limestone edged rock that will cut your car like a jagged knife)
- If it rains picture adding a squeezy and oil mixture to the surface, switch your "3rd gear corners" to "easy in 1st" haha, and expect your braking to add speed rather than reduce it in some instances.OVERALL
- Great Lime! - bring Trini rum if that is what you drink as you won't find that 'shite' in Barbados no matter how hard you look - however an Old Gold and soda usually does the trick.
- Great Cars - For just a short flight a few dollars on a hotel and rental car you can experience something close to a World event in terms of the range of cars.
- Fantastic Vibe - The whole country knows about it literally, and you could easily compare it to Carnival in Trinidad based on the amount of people who attend and the attention it gets.THE TRINI TEAMSJohn Powell / Nicholas Telfer - WRC Subaru S14 - Shell Helix / Intercontinental Shipping
- John finished 3rd in the qualifying King of the Hill the week before and as a result was 3rd off the line. We were on the 1st stage of the day (Pickering) and John came through slightly faster than Skeete but admittedly off the pace of Paul Bird who was literally trying to win it on the first stage. I believe John was 5th on Stage 1 but 3 sec separated 1st and 5th to give you an idea of the pace from the start. John's Mexican luck continued however and managed to hit something slightly harder than the S14 on the right side which busted the tire, and 'scattered' the shock absorber. The impact was so hard that it cracked the windscreen in the process. Due to the fact that John's car is one of 7 in the world, and the spares for the car are not exactly available in your local auto parts place, he reluctantly retired at the end of stage 2 ending any hope of the 3-peat of regional rallying. Up next for John is the 3rd round of the NACAM Rally Championship in Costa Rica on July 7.Stuart Johnson / Colin Hoad - Group N Subaru N12
- 'Soby' started conservative as he typically does in this Rally. With a high attrition rate you can easily count on a solid number of people in your class not finishing, however his strategy encountered a momentary lapse in concentration when he passed too close to the cut rock which opened up his left side fender like an industrial can opener. He compared it to a dinosaur clawing away the front fender. This put him out the Rally and that was 2 down for the Trinis by lunch time on Saturday.Vishal Dhanraj / Scott Leonard - 2WD S9 Opel Corsa
- Vishal has been competing at Rally Barbados for quite some time now and is probably just as experienced as John on these stages. However Vishal who rented the car from James Betts had his fair share of challenges. Busted Gearbox mounts and a few other fuel issues which saw him stall the car a couple times made the Rally tough but otherwise enjoyable. Vish was in good spirits as well as the rest of the contingent but there was more clapping than receiving any trophies at the prize giving this year.ON FIA
I will say this little piece as the entire local fraternity is always anxious to know what this really means for motorsport. The event is sanctioned by the local ASN - the BMF, however it is not an FIA event. The Barbados Rally Club hosts and manages every aspect of the event, with absolutely no interference or control by the ASN. The President of the ASN is a spectator and an observer and has absolutely no authority on the event. He will give his advice and suggestions as would be expected but interesting to know he was actually a competitor until a lamp post forced him into spectator mode.
Members of the FIA were there as observers ONLY and were invited not required to be there, and never once 'forced' themselves on the event. All was left to the BRC - the Good, the Bad, and the Cut Rock.
You must be a license holder to compete as Barbados is a 'sanctioned' territory, but this is expected.
But please note that the Rally follows the rules of the BRC, and only uses the FIA as a guideline for safety, and classes of cars which are then adapted for Club use etc etc.RALLY BARBADOS VERDICT - Find yuh arse there for 2013!
Check out all the Tuner photographers for all the pics - i won't try to post mine to compete with theirs - Lyden, Gerry, Captain Dumps, Devi, and crew. Check out all the stuff on facebook as well as search for "Race1 Barbados" on youtube etc for some video action.