CARIBBEAN FRUIT EXCHANGED FOR RALLY CARS IN UK

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CARIBBEAN FRUIT EXCHANGED FOR RALLY CARS IN UK

The Geest Line freighter Agulhas Stream sailed from Portsmouth on the English south coast yesterday (Tuesday, May 7) after two nights in port exchanging bananas and other produce from around the Caribbean for a shipment of 27 rally cars bound for the region’s biggest annual motor sport International, Sol Rally Barbados.

 
It will now spend 10 days on its trans-Atlantic voyage to the Bridgetown Port in Barbados, via Le Havre in France and Martinique, before docking to off-load the precious cargo of competition vehicles which will compete against 70 regional crews in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event over the weekend of June 1/2, also Scotiabank King of the Hill, the vital ‘shakedown’ on the previous Sunday, May 26.
 
As happens every year, a group of the most loyal supporters of Sol RB once again took time to travel to Portsmouth – a total round trip for them all in excess of 2,000 miles - to assist in loading the cars on Monday, a Bank Holiday in the UK.
 
Led by Martin Stockdale, whose record of what will this year become 13 consecutive trips to compete in Barbados is unlikely ever to be broken, the happy band worked in sublime weather conditions, a stark contrast to last year, when heavy rains punctuated the day’s labours . . . and all hope that will be a good omen, as rain in Portsmouth when loading last year was mirrored at the Bridgetown Port, where BRC members joined Club officials in the un-loading 10 days later during a torrential downpour.
 
Stockdale was joined by Andrew Costin-Hurley, his wife Melissa (team photographer) and brother-in-law Jon Costin (he drew the short straw, pushing cars around in the heat of the freighter’s hold), Andy Hawkins, Paul Rees and his new co-driver for this year Paul Briggs, finally John Hardman and Stuart Deeley – even though his car had left in a container the previous week, along with those of Steve Perez and Andrew Siddall.
 
Shortly after he completed the roughly 400-mile round trip, Stockdale e-mailed Sol RB13 Rally Office Manager Jeanne Crawford to report: “Just got home. Mission accomplished. All cars safely loaded - everything went smoothly, took the assembled team about two hours to move and load cars.”
 
Sol RB13 Chairman Barry Gale is full of praise for this loyal group: “I cannot really find the right words to thank those guys in the UK who, year in and year out, give of their time to ensure that our overseas entries are looked after carefully as they are loaded – competition cars are strange beasts, and those of us who don’t drive them regularly do need some guidance on how to handle then . . . even how to fire them up!
 
“The relationships that Martin’s group have built up with the guys who work the dock play a big part in building confidence in our event. Each year, we have drivers who cannot be there to load their own cars . . . Frans Verbaas from Holland, for instance, is comfortable leaving his Mini in the hands of Martin and his crew, and this year of course there was a 10-car transporter-load from Ireland that needed to be dealt with.”
 
 
Siddall third on last outing in readiness for Sol Rally Barbados
 
Last weekend’s Cartell.ie Killarney Rally of the Lakes (May 3-5) provided a final shakedown for historic Ford Escort driver Andrew Siddall before his third trip to Sol Rally Barbados this year. A round of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship for the first time, the two-day, 140-mile tarmac event was also a key component of the Barbados Rally Club’s Tourism Development Corporation-supported promotion in Ireland, with a marshal claiming a prize trip to Sol RB13.
 
Driving his Dansport-prepared ex-Roger Clark Siddall & Hilton Products/Kick Energy Ford Escort MkII (it carries the famous registration number LAR 800P), and co-driven by Carl Williamson, another to have competed in Barbados, Siddall finished third and second in class D3. He said: “It's the first time I have rallied there, and I found the stages extremely challenging . . . but satisfying to finish well.”
 
As on his last two trips, he will be competing in Barbados in his MkI Escort, co-driven for the first time by local lass Jamie Marsh; she is an experienced island co-driver, with previous experience in historic Escorts. On his first visit in 2011, Siddall won Historic Class 2, but last year it went wrong on day two.
 
Siddall says: “I really want to finish Sol Rally Barbados this year in JOK 380N, to make up for the disappointment of last year when the gearbox exploded on Sunday, while I was leading the Historics.”
 
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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