DOUBLE VALUE FOR FANS IN SOL RALLY BARBADOS

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DOUBLE VALUE FOR FANS IN SOL RALLY BARBADOS

Sol Rally Barbados 2013 (June 1/2), the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, promises a double dose of unforgettable action. While former UK National Champion Paul Bird will face a record field of WRC cars as he tries to win back-to-back victories, not far behind will be just as intense a battle for two-wheel-drive honours.

 
The previous weekend’s Scotiabank King of the Hill (May 26), over a new 2.5-kilometre stage at Luke Hill in the island’s northern parish of St Lucy, may produce even closer results, as the course will balance up the advantages of two- and four-wheel-drive.
 
In recent years, interest in ‘sharp end of the field’ two-wheel-drive rallying has revived, with ever-more resourceful island engineers stretching the envelope. Of late, Neil Armstrong’s Toyota Starlet has been the car to beat (sixth and fifth in Sol RB in 2011 & ‘12), but he is now driving the Suzuki SX4 WRC, and the Starlet being rested.
 
While losing one of the most competitive cars from 2wd might have spelled disaster a few years back, that is no longer the case, as others up their game year on year. The Startlet’s closest challenger had been the Suzuki Swift of three-time SuperModified 10 Champion Ian Warren – in Sol RB11, they swapped times back and forth, until a Sunday morning ‘off’ (no fault of Warren’s); last year, the hoped-for showdown started well, with both inside the top 10, but ended when the Swift’s engine failed.
 
In the first two rounds of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) 2013 Virgin Atlantic Championship, Warren had to give best to the Starlet of Josh Read, who moved up to SM10 last year after four SM9 titles. Read has started 2013 well, top 2wd in all four events, with Warren snapping at his heels in the first three . . . but the first tarmac rally of the season at the end of April produced the closest result so far.
 
Roger Mayers, ninth overall and SM9 winner last year, now has an 1800 engine in the ‘WR Starlet’, bumping it up to SM10: in April, Mayers had Read on the morning’s dry stages, while Read clawed it all back in the wet of the afternoon, beating Mayers on the final stage of the day to win by just seven-hundredths of a second.
 
In essence, the fight for overall 2wd is also the battle for SM10, although Rhett Watson was mixing it in his SM12 BMW in April, so cannot be ruled out. In the rest of SM10, mechanical problems kept Brett Clarke out of the fight that day, but had a top 10 finish in King of the Hill last year, while Cliff Roett and Ralph White are capable of good results, given reliability. Of the visitors, Scottish father and son Allan and Euan Mackay will be aiming to entertain in the Ford Anglia WRC and JWRC, returning Irishman Raymond Conlon might just go for times in his Corolla, while Enda McCormack’s immaculate Escort is an unknown quantity.
 
In SM12 (aka ‘Bee-Emm12’) Watson has taken over ‘Cookies’, the two-door car driven by brother Logan to last year’s SM11 and BRC 2wd titles, while Trevor Manning replaces injured Logan in the four-door car (‘Crackers’). Few of the rest have been seen in 2013, Martin Atwell splitting the Watsons in the season-opening double-header and newcomer David St Hill finishing third behind Rhett and Manning in April. Justin Campbell and Owen Cumberbatch are out for the first time, while Britain’s Martin Stockdale (M3 Compact) returns for his 13th consecutive visit.
 
The creation of SM12 means SM11 has shrunk dramatically, but remains hard to predict: Dane ‘son of Roger’ Skeete drives the ex-Stuart Maloney Peugeot 306 Maxi for the first time, while the UK’s Nigel Worswick and local Andrew Jones should enjoy a good Escort battle, with both cars re-fettled since last year. Eric Allamby (Toyota Corolla) and Ireland’s Glenn Campbell (Nissan Micra) complete the class.
 
 
Spacious new location for ‘Rally Central’
 
Work started last week on turning part of the former Banks Brewery building in Wildey, St Michael, into ‘Rally Central’, the workshop for overseas crews who do not already enjoy a working relationship with friends or businesses in the island. It will provide secure storage, access to knowledgeable local engineers, and vital infrastructure, particularly for first-timers. In addition to allowing use of the facility, Banks, a long-term marketing partner of Sol RB, has installed additional lighting and power.
 
Sol Rally Barbados 2013 (June 1/2) and Scotiabank King of the Hill (May 26) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007; title sponsors are the Sol Group and Scotiabank. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, LIME, Automotive Art, Banks and Karcher; official partners are the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Authority, Tourism Development Corporation, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Geest Line and Virgin Atlantic Airways; associate sponsors are Chefette, Field Insurance, Glacial Pure, Little Switzerland, Redline Fuels, Stoute’s Car Rental and West Indies Rum Distillery.
 
For media information only. No regulatory value.
 
For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com

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