Regional interest in Sol Rally Barbados (June 4/5, 2011), the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international, remains high. Two returnees from Trinidad & Tobago, one a former National Champion, are among the early entries received on-line at the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) official event web site,

Currently without a permanent circuit racing facility, the twin-island state is enjoying a resurgence in rallying; entry levels of a decade ago have more than doubled, and the Trinidad & Tobago Rally Club’s (TRC) premier event, Rally Trinidad, attracted eight crews from Barbados in 2010, plus triple British Rally Champion, Mark Higgins.

Trinidad Rally Champion in 2006, Vishal Dhanraj will be making his fourth appearance in Barbados, driving a Gulf Motor Oil/Lucozade Energy/The Dispensary/Automan Ltd/Worldclass Coatings/V3 Rally Team Toyota Starlet. For 2011, he will have a new co-driver, Douglas Stampfli – although new to the left-hand seat, he is familiar with the BRC’s blue riband event, having been a spectator in Barbados for the past five years, and has been involved in the management and development of the team.

In 2008, Dhanraj was 35th overall and sixth in Modified 8-A in the Subaru Impreza, in which he finished runner-up in the TTRC 4WD Championship in the same year; then he acquired the Starlet, formerly rallied by David Williams in Barbados, where the car still resides - 10th in SuperModified 9 in the Starlet in 2009, Dhanraj improved to sixth in SM9, 41st overall, last year.

After switching between two- and four-wheel-drive, Dhanraj, who has also won three team awards back home since 2006, has decided to concentrate on the former. He says: “I have officially switched to the two-wheel-drive class this year to chase that title in Trinidad & Tobago with a Mitsubishi Lancer Mivec.”

Former circuit racer David Coelho made his Sol Rally Barbados debut last year driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX campaigned in 2009 by John Powell; having finished all six of the TTRC Championship events he contested last year, he ended his first season in rallying second in the 4WD class (to his car’s former owner, Powell) and fifth overall.

While he had finished seventh overall and third in Group N in Rally Trinidad earlier in the season, he failed to achieve an overall finish in Sol Rally Barbados 2011 – his engine expired with five stages to go – but was placed fifth in Group N. With a further season of competition under his belt, it is expected that he and co-driver James Harris will make more of an impression second time round in the Total and Subway-supported entry.


‘Birdy’s hat-trick at the Cartersport Jack Frost Stages

Runner-up in Sol Rally Barbados for the past two years, former UK National Rally Champion Paul Bird started his 2011 season on a high, completing a hat-trick of wins in the Cartersport Jack Frost Stages Rally, contested in slippery conditions on Sunday (January 16) at the Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.

With Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick in the Axia Ford Focus WRC08, shod with DMACK tyres, his margin of victory was 1min 17secs over the 40 stage-mile event.

Out of action since last August, Bird was beaten on the first two stages by Chris Wise and Tracey Taylor-West in the ex-Roger Mayers MG Metro 6R4; leading by 19 seconds after SS3 – the opening stage had been cancelled following a timing fault – they were disappointed to retire with front diff failure.

Afterwards, Bird said: "I've not driven the car for five months, so I'd forgotten what half the stuff did but as soon as we got into the swing of things, it all started to come together. The car has run faultlessly again and the DMACK tyres were awesome, we had no problems with grip all day despite the slippery conditions."

While ‘Birdy’s plans for the whole season are not yet clear, he will definitely contest the first two rounds of the BTRDA Championship, the Wyedean Rally (February 12) and the Malcolm Wilson Rally (March 5).

Sol Rally Barbados (June 4/5, 2011) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 29) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB2011 is the 22nd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the start of a second three-year term of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

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