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A record-breaking Celtic ‘invasion force’ left Ireland late afternoon Wednesday (May 1) to tackle the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International. Ten rally cars were loaded on to a transporter in the north of the ‘Emerald Isle’ to start the nearly 5,000-mile journey to compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2013 (June 1/2).

 
Having been assembled at a ‘secret location’ in County Antrim, the cars left Ireland by ferry from Belfast to Birkenhead, part of a 550-mile trip to Portsmouth on the English south coast, where all the remaining cars from Europe were already gathering. They will be loaded on to a Geest Line freighter to set sail for the 10-day voyage Barbados on Tuesday (May 7), calling at a number of European and Caribbean ports on the way.
 
Confirmation just a few days before the transporter was loaded that Raymond Conlon, who first competed in Barbados last year, and regular visitor Glenn Campbell would be making the trip again brought to an unprecedented 14 the number of International crews entered for the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event that have Irish connections.
 
Conlon had entered some months ago, but issues with sponsorship caused him to withdraw; a late change of heart, however, means he and co-driver Darren McCague will return with the Palm Garden Hotel Barbados/Banks Beer/Skelton Travel/Clones Shavings/Scanbitz/Gribben Plumbing/Conlon Travel Toyota Corolla in which his flamboyant driving style earned respect from island fans on his way to 30th overall and fourth in the hyper-competitive SuperModified 10 classification last year.
 
In the early part of this year, Conlon has done three rallies in Ireland, finishing sixth overall on both the Donegal Mini Stages and the Mayo Stages. Of his preparations for Barbados this year, he says: “Since last year, I’ve made a few changes to the car so, hopefully, I will go better in RB13.”
 
This is Campbell’s fifth visit, and one he hopes will eventually result in a class win. He has twice finished second in Modified 5, in 2009 & 11, and this year pits his Motorcare/Trevor Moore Motors/IanFleckSigns.com/DMH Automotive/RallyForums.com Nissan Micra Kit Car against a mixture of local and International entries. He has a new co-driver for 2013, Sarah Whelan, the latest member of a rally-centric Irish family to win a title, in her case Champion Co-Driver of the 2012 Galway Motor Club.
 
In addition to Campbell’s Micra and Conlon’s Corolla, the transporter carried the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII of Joe McQuillan, who was instrumental in making the collective transport arrangements, the Toyota Starlets of Maurice Moffett and Danny O’Brien, the Philip Case Rally Sport-prepared Ford Escort MkII and Renault Clio R3 of Enda McCormack and Tommy Doyle, regular visitor Peter Gallagher’s Peugeot 206 and the Ford Anglia WRC and JWRC of Scotland’s Allan and Euan Mackay, whose cars are based in Ireland.
 
In addition to the cars carried on the transporter, the record-breaking Irish contingent includes the father and son team of Eddie and Keith Power, in Toyota Corolla WRC and Renault Clio respectively, and New York-based Martin Donnelly (Evo IX). 
 
 
Sol RB connections support Killarney Rally of the Lakes
 
Volunteer marshals and officials working on this weekend’s Cartell.ie Killarney Rally of the Lakes (May 3-5) in Ireland have the chance to win a trip to Sol Rally Barbados 2013, and there’s a good chance they can learn some more about the event, too, with a number of Sol RB connections involved.
 
The Rally of the Lakes is a round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Southern 4 Rally Championship and – for the first time in Ireland – the FIA European Historic Rally Championship. After this evening’s (Friday) Ceremonial Start in Killarney Town Centre, there are two days of rallying, with approximately 150 stage miles.
 
The Historic entry includes Barbados regulars Steve Perez (in his iconic Lancia Stratos) and Andrew Siddall, driving his Ford Escort MkII, as his MkI is already on its way to Barbados. In addition, the event’s Junior Rally Co-ordinator is Paul Nagle, co-driver to Kris Meeke on his two Sol Rally Barbados victories in recent years.
 
All volunteer officials’ names will be placed in a drum and the name drawn during the high-profile Prize-giving on Sunday evening, with the lucky winner claiming a 12-day trip to Barbados, coinciding with Sol RB13, courtesy of the Barbados Rally Club in association with the Tourism Development Corporation and Ireland’s Pacenotes Rally Magazine.
 
Sol Rally Barbados (June 1/2) and Scotiabank King of the Hill (May 26) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB13 is the 24th running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the sixth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.
 
For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com

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