The Barbados Rally Carnival is a fortnight of motorsport fun running from May 27th to June 10th 2003. The 2 main events
are the Sunbeach International RallySprint on the 31st May / 1st June and the Rally Barbados on June 7th and 8th but as
well as the associated event scrutineering and recce'ing there are also a number of social activites organised on
the island to add to the fun element.
The Rally Carnival will be the biggest motor sport event ever staged in the region with 30 UK and
European entries combined with the other Caribbean entries and local entries bossting the event to having a full
contingent of 90 cars taking part in the Rally Barbados. Many of the classes are bursting with entries, including
Group M5 (Modified 5 - up to 1400cc) which Team RallyMarshal are competing in and should prove to be one of the closest
and most competitive groups in the rally.
The Sunbeach International Rallysprint runs at the Vaucluse Raceway in St Thomas. The course has a clay base, with a mixed surface, varying
from compressed dirt through concrete and marl . . . and back! As rubber from cut slicks (similar to rallycross tyres)
is laid down during the day, the track gets faster and faster. The track consists of two parallel lanes figure-of-eight
style with a cross-over point - the Simpson Motors bridge - so each competitor completes the full two laps before returning
to the finish line.
On the Sunday, drivers are divided into groups of four based on the Saturday qualifying times. The
fastest will race the third fastest, then the second fastest run against the fourth fastest; after the two losers settle
third and fourth places, the two heat winners go head-to-head for group victory. At the end of the day the winner from
each group goes on to the end-of-day Knock-Out Handicap where cars are staggered at the start based on their fastest
race times. It is not uncommon in the handicap section to see Group N cars beating Group A cars to settle the 'Driver
of the Day' title.
Rally Barbados is the blue riband event in the Caribbean motorsport calendar as the premier rally in the region.
In 2003, the event runs to a similar format to the 2002 event but has been lengthened by some 10% with a total
stage mileage of around 107 miles split across some 30+ stages and the inclusion of a new venue.
The rally is run over two days on closed public roads throughout the island, with the start at 1000hrs
on Saturday, a lunch break around 1430hrs and the last stage starting at around 1930hrs. On Sunday, an earlier restart -
0730hrs - is followed by lunch at noon, then the finish at 1600hrs. Thanks to the island's relative proximity to the Equator,
night falls rapidly, and Saturday's final stages are run in the dark.
In 2002, there were 33 stages, nine in each of the first three loops, then six in the shorter Sunday
afternoon loop . . . after all, there has to be time for the party at the finish! The stages vary in length from a
little over one mile to around five miles, the countryside is undulating and the roads tight - although the surface is
tarmac, much of it is old and built with limestone aggregate and doesn't offer the sort of grip European visitors
Triple usage of each stage venue - the first car returns only an hour or so after the last car left
- not only makes maximum use of the available road closure time, but also helps to limit spectator traffic on the island's
busy roads. For the start, cars are seeded in a similar way to that common in Britain, with the fastest cars running
first - this was new for the island in 2002 - and then re-seeded into the order of overnight classification for the
Team RallyMarshal is going to the event for fun, sun and for the experience. The intention is to finish
the event first and foremost but when the lights go green on the stages theres always an element of competitiveness that
comes into its own. With the event being Pauls first time on pacenotes and the first time he will have rallied at night
as well, the challenge is to finish and to see where we come.