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There will be two Sheriffs in town come Sol Rally Barbados 2014, when Scottish driver Brian ‘The Sheriff’ Watson arrives with his Audi quattro S1 and ‘Deputy’, co-driver Caroline Will. The welcoming party at the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international will naturally include Roger ‘The Sheriff’ Skeete, 12-time winner of the island’s premier event.

  They earned their nicknames in different ways, Skeete for the familiar logo that bedecked the bonnet of his rally cars for more than two decades, Watson because of his appearance; co-driver Will says: “Brian has been known to look like Sheriff Buford T Justice from the Smokey and the Bandit movies, hence the name.”

  The fictional Texas county sheriff was portrayed by Jackie Gleason, who famously chased ‘The Bandit’, played by Burt Reynolds, across a number of state borders . . . but Watson, it seems, is not so fierce! On last year’s Tour of Mull, an iconic tarmac rally run on the Isle of Mull off Scotland’s West Cost, he won the ‘Entertainers Award’.

  With typically wry humour, veteran Scottish rally journalist John Fife wrote part-way through that event: “The pre-rally odds against Brian Watson and Caroline Will getting this far were astronomical. Well here they are, 107 miles so far and the German tractor (Audi quattro S1) is still going, and still sounding good. The Sheriff has been awfully sensible and taken his Course Car duties seriously . . . and that's another surprise, but full marks to him, he's entertained the crowds and swept the roads.”

  Watson’s first rally car in 2005 was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo II and he continues to compete, most recently in an Evo VIII, as well as driving course car; while Watson performed Double Zero duties on Mull, the Zero Car was driven by another well-known Scottish entertainer, Allan Mackay, whose enthusiasm for Barbados – this year will be Mackay’s fifth visit - sold Watson on the idea of a Caribbean adventure.

  Watson told rallybarbados.net: “I'm sure the quattro will go down a treat. Everybody keeps telling me it’s the best rally in the world. I was a bit worried about the car sitting across there before I get there and after I leave, but Allan has told me what a great bunch of guys you lot are, and that the car would be more than safe.”

  With Sol RB14, the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) is celebrating the 25th running of its premier event, which began as the International All-Stage Rally in 1990; this year it is scheduled for May 31/June 1, with Scotiabank King of the Hill and Simpson Motors Scrutineering the previous weekend (May 24/25).

  Co-driver Will has been competing since age 14, when she first drove a Vauxhall Nova in an autotest; she became Junior, Ladies and Club Champion at Stonehaven & District Motor Club (SDMC) and shared the ‘Best Entertainer’ award on Mull.

  Watson built his car in 1991, using original Audi S1 quattro parts, since when the brakes and suspension have been upgraded; as well as a more reliable engine – the current 2.2-litre until develops around 420bhp – the car has a modern ECU, with modified electronics for greater reliability. Sponsored by BSW Services and E Watson & Son, the S1 is now run by DanSport, and is entered in Group B.

  In addition to his own rallying activities, Watson is a keen supporter of motor sport in Aberdeenshire, in the north-east of Scotland; last month, he hosted a gravel sprint organised by the SDMC on a purpose-built stage on his farm at Netherley and has also been a sponsor of the all-girl Rally2Raise team of Rachel Clark and Caroline Lodge, who rally to raise awareness of, and funds for, a number of medical charities.

 

Closing date for entries confirmed as May 2

 

On-line entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2014 will close on Friday, May 2, exactly eight weeks from today. The entry list currently stands at 86, including 40 overseas crews, with entries received for all but one of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) 16 classes.

  Sol RB Rally Office Manager Jeanne Crawford said: “We are very pleased with the response this year, particularly from International competitors old and new, although we will not know the final list until closer to the shipping date at the end of April.

  “We also have some more regional crews who have expressed an interest, but not confirmed their intentions just now, and there are still 20 local crews, including one or two big names, who entered last year but haven’t registered yet for 2014.”

  As well as being the closing date for entries, May 2 is also the final date for payment at the standard entry fee for local competitors; late fees will apply if competitors pay between then and Wednesday, May 14, after which non-payment will result in exclusion.

 

Sol Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 55th Anniversary in 2012; Sol RB14 is the 25th running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the seventh year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

 

For media information only. No regulatory value.

 

For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com web sites: www.rallybarbados.net; www.barbadosrallyclub.com

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