CARNIVAL KING RETURNS TO DEFEND TITLE

European cars in Bridgetown Port

Reigning 'King of the Carnival', Austrian Ernst Harrach, will return to defend his title at this year's fifth Barbados Rally Carnival, which opens with the Vaucluse Raceway International RallySprint on May 21/22. His Porsche 911 was among the European entries which docked at the Bridgetown Port early Friday morning (May 6) aboard the Geest Line freighter Santa Lucia.

The Austrian proved a force to be reckoned with from the first weekend of last year's competition; his victory in the Group Winners' Handicap KnockOut at the Total Sport International SuperSprint at Bushy Park - where his energetic driving style made him an instant crowd favourite - gave him an early edge in the chase for the Carnival King title.

The following weekend, he was dominant in the historic class in Rally Barbados 2004 from the start, sealing victory, and finishing an impressive 17th overall.

Harrach was Austrian Rally Champion in 1991 - a title since won by his 25-year-old son - and was a top 10 finisher on five occasions in World Championship events. On his first visit to Barbados last year, he arrived with fellow-countryman Josef Pointinger as his co-driver . . . and that was a good choice. Pointinger and his wife Gertrude had contested the previous year's Rally Carnival in their World Cup Rally replica Ford Escort MkI, and Pointinger had won the Sunbeach International RallySprint at the Vaucluse Raceway.

Harrach and Pointinger will be reunited with the red and white 1973 260 horsepower Porsche in about 10 days' time, when they arrive on a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 from London Gatwick, along with the other European crews and their supporters, plus an enlarged media contingent.

The passenger manifest on that flight will also include multiple Scottish champion Kenny Hall, who is back for his fourth visit to the Barbados Rally Carnival . . . and he, too, returns to defend a title, having won the Modified 5 class on RB04 at his fourth attempt.

Garage owner Hall, who rallies a self-built Suzuki-engined Vauxhall Corsa, backed by tartan manufacturer Lochcarron of Scotland and Simpson Motors, is looking forward to his return. He is also quick at the Vaucluse Raceway, and has been a class-winner in the International RallySprint, so he would like to return home with a few more trophies to add to the 70 or so he has won in the UK.

One thing has changed for him this year, however, as he arrives with a new co-driver, replacing Colin Smith, with whom he won the Group last year . . . but his new ace on the pace notes, Dutch co-driver Fenny Wesselink, also has some Bajan experience. She was last in Barbados two years ago as co-driver to Wim Wermink, whose historic red Opel Ascona also proved a popular car with local motor sport enthusiasts.
Barbados Rally Carnival founder Greg Cozier said: "I am always pleased to welcome back drivers who found that Carnival offers them something they cannot find in Europe, in terms of competition and fun . . . and we now have more than one returning for the third, fourth or fifth year.

"It is especially good to see those who have enjoyed success here before coming back to defend their titles; I am particularly pleased that Ernst is travelling all the way from Austria to defend the King of the Carnival title - he proved not only a determined competitor, but also a very popular winner . . . and certainly taught a few of us youngsters a thing or two. And Kenny has always entered into the spirit of Carnival in every sense, both in his car and out. We could not wish to have two more popular competitors return."