Female entries in Sol Rally Barbados at near-record 21

courtesy The Barbados Rally Club/Image Vault, The UK’s Cheryl Spencer returns to compete in Sol Rally Barbados for the eighth time and to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of her wedding to Barry in the island

 Confirmation today (May 5) that Britain’s Cheryl Spencer will make her eighth trip to compete in Sol Rally Barbados next month brings to 21 the number of women entered in this year’s event, just one short of the record set in Sol RB18. As well as competing in the region’s biggest annual motor sport international, Spencer and husband Barry will be marking the 15th Anniversary of their beachfront wedding.
  Sol RB23, the 33rd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, will start with a floodlit SuperSpecial at Bushy Park Barbados on Friday, June 9, with two days of action in the northern and eastern parishes culminating in a daylight SuperSpecial and Rally Finish back at the St Philip facility on Sunday. The Rally Show and First Citizens King of the Hill will be staged on the previous weekend, June 3 & 4.
  Spencer’s eighth visit is a record among overseas women drivers – only co-driver Fenny Wesselink of the Netherlands has competed more times, 13 – and will pitch her against the island’s Natya Soodeen in a tussle for the highest-placed female driver award . . . a face-off that was delayed when Spencer failed to start Sol RB22 when an incurable ECU issue sidelined their Modified 2 Vauxhall Astra GSi.
  Soodeen, who won the BRC’s Autocross Championship in 2021, and Sameisha Williams will be the only all-female crew in the event, campaigning Soodeen’s BimmaCup in the Clubman 2 category, which is the largest class in Sol RB23 with 15 entries. There are three more female co-drivers in C2 and a further 15 across the entry; seven are from overseas, including Scotland’s Laura Connell, who finished third overall in Sol RB19, winning the FIA R5 class with Andy Scott, with whom she is reunited this year.
  In C2, Gayle Hutchinson sits with husband Spencer in his BimmaCup, with Miranda Ho and Castara Waterman co-driving for Ryan Wood and Chris Hoad respectively; Spencer’s opposition in M2 will include Michaela Jackman in husband Dwayne’s Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2, Emily Kinch (BMW 318ti, Sean Corbin), Tammy Nelson (Honda Civic Type-R, Jamal Braithwaite) and Canadian-born Chantal Ullyett with father Chris (Ford Escort RS2000); Natasha Farnum takes her regular seat in Greg Cozier’s C3 BimmaCup Too, Lindsey Pilkington sits with Andy Jones in his SuperModified 2 Ford Escort MkII, while Mutamuliza Cutting co-drives for Harold Morley (H2 Porsche 911 RSR).
  After a holiday in the island for Rally Barbados 2007, the Spencers decided to return and compete, a bit of a challenge, as they didn’t even own a rally car! Determination won through and, after some rally school tuition, they acquired the Vauxhall Astra GSi driven by Jeff Benstock to win the South West Tarmac Championship; they have since finished Sol Rally Barbados on five of their seven attempts. Married at The Boatyard in 2008, they renewed their vows at the Fish Fry and Pig Roast Welcome Party at Bushy Park a decade later, having made many friends in the island in the intervening years.
  Cheryl, who is a member of the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club, has started co-driving this year, in the off-road BritPart Safari Championship, but the trip to the island is special: “We are fortunate to have so many Bajan sponsors and support from the UK and are very much looking forward to returning.”
  In addition to Dover Beach Hotel, Marco Polo Bar & Grill, SRG Engineering and Stoutes Car Rentals, which have supported the Spencers in the past, their campaign this year is also supported by island businesses Animal Flower Cave, Jetski Barbados, Le Shack and Sunflower Stables, Sunflower Farms, as well as UK firm wrap'd N Tintd.

Sol Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with around 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; the First Citizens King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ (June 4), runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for Sol RB23.

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