LAST REGIONAL CREWS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2012
As entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) closed this week, the final drivers from around the region who will be participating in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International have been confirmed. They are first-timer Stan Hartling, representing the Turks & Caicos Islands, and Trinidad’s Vishal Dhanraj, who returns for his fifth consecutive year.
Although new to Sol Rally Barbados itself, Hartling made his first competition appearance in the island in the Valvoline Shakedown Stages just two weeks ago; co-driven in his striking Lotus Exige by fellow-Canadian Andy Proudfoot, he ran in SuperModified 11. Despite encountering gear selection problems in the early part of the event – he lost fourth, fifth and six – he was fourth in class after three stages, but then found a gearbox oil bung missing at service, so retired to prevent further damage.
While his previous experience includes conventional events such as Targa Newfoundland, where he has been a regular finisher – eighth overall and class second in 2009 in his BMW M3 among his best results – he has also enjoyed the more odd-ball side of motor sport, including the 24 Hours of LeMons series of races in North America.
These endurance events – cars usually race for 14-and-a-half hours over a weekend – are run for cars costing less than US $500 to buy and build; while the usual regulations dealing with important issues such as safety follow main-line motor sport, the approach to cars and competition is rather more light-hearted. Hartling says: “We built a real special, a police pursuit car cut down, caged and then we put on a Ford F150 truck body . . . backwards! It drives the guys on the track nuts!”
In comparison with Hartling, Dhanraj is a veteran of rallying the island, with three overall finishes in Sol Rally Barbados in the last four years, and occasional outings in other island events. He was first seen in Sol RB08, when he finished 35th overall, sixth in M8-A in a Subaru Impreza Sti, proudly flying his national flag from the roof.
He then switched to two-wheel-drive, with the ex-David Williams Toyota Starlet, with progressively better results of 10th, sixth and then fourth last year in SuperModified 9. He remains in the class this year, driving the ex-James Betts Opel Corsa. Back home, he is in the process of having his own new Toyota Starlet built for local events.
His co-driver this year is the experienced American Scott Leonard, who currently lives in Trinidad. He has an impressive record as both driver – winner of the Idaho Rally in 2008 – and co-driver in a wide variety of North America events.