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Former UK National Rally Champion Roger Duckworth will make his fourth trip to Sol Rally Barbados this year, joining a growing list of returnees spread right through the field in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international. While he will be fighting at the sharp end, another four regular visitors are confirmed today in the Clubman, Group B and Historic classes.

  Since Duckworth won the first of two prize drives in 2011 for winning Rallye Sunseeker National in the UK, he has not missed a trip to the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event . . . and his results in the Intrynsis Subaru Impreza WRC S6 are heading in the right direction: seventh, sixth and then fifth overall, also WRC-2 winner, last year.

  He has realistic ambitions for Sol RB14: “I obviously have to set my sights on winning WRC-2 again, but any better overall result seems optimistic. But I really would like to try to have a clean start this year - I lost 20 to 30 seconds on the very first stage on the last two visits. In Barbados, that is an age, and it takes the whole rally to catch up.”

  Since Sol RB13, Duckworth has seen little action, although he did win Rallye Sunseeker for a fifth time, becoming only the second driver to achieve a hat-trick of wins. His winning co-driver, for the fourth time, was Mark Broomfield, who makes his Barbados debut this year. Duckworth says: “It was Mark’s 50th birthday this year, so his wife helped me encourage him to make the trip. We know each other pretty well when it comes to the stages - my first rally with Mark was 1991 Sunseeker.”

  The BRC is celebrating the 25th running of its premier event, which began as the International All-Stage Rally in 1990; it is scheduled for May 30-June 1, with Scotiabank King of the Hill and Simpson Motors Scrutineering the previous weekend (May 24/25).

  Scotland’s Kenny Hall, who will campaign his Clubman class Halltune Garage Opel Corsa with Dutch co-driver Fenny Wesselink, has seen even less action than Duckworth of late: “The last time Fenny and I got out of a competing car was 2012 in Barbados, when the Puma landed on its side after hitting the cut rock. There’s been no motor sport in the last year, as the Corsa’s engine exploded on the start line of King of the Hill. I’ve rebuilt the engine and I’m really looking forward to coming back for our 12th visit.”

  John Hardman, based in Wales but Northern Irish by origin, is returning with the John Hardman Engineering/PEC Tyres/Ian Rodgers Body Shop/Chicken Pen Racing/Star Products/Elite Racing Transmissions Nissan Micra, in which he won Group B2 last year. Now on his seventh visit, Hardman is also remembered for his remarkable four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta.

  On his first trip in 2005, Hardman took along Gary Thomas and Phil Ralphs, who finished 19th overall and second in SuperModified 12 in a Ford Escort MkII, with Hardman-built Vauxhall engine; a dnf on their return in 2010 was followed by 23rd overall and the Clubman-Historic class win in 2012.

  A former Welsh Road Rally and Tarmac Stage Champion, Thomas’s rally car rental business, Tsalta Motorsport, will field two cars this year, as he and Ralphs are splitting up. Each will drive an Escort, Ralphs also backed by Cambrian Land Rover and Alun Pryce Transport, with co-driver Aled Lloyd Jones on only his fourth stage event as co-driver after many years as a passenger in Motorcycle Sidecar Enduro. Thomas has not yet nominated a co-driver.


Trinidad triumph for Armstrong and Ward


Neil Armstrong and Barry Ward (Suzuki SX4 WRC) carried the 10th Anniversary Rally Trinidad trophy home to Barbados this week after a dominant performance on the island’s high-speed gravel stages. Having shared the stage wins at Friday night’s short curtain-raiser at the National Stadium with fellow Bajans Paul Bourne and Sean Abed (Ford Focus WRC07), Armstrong was unbeaten thereafter.

  Armstrong said: “Everything went well and I have managed to maintain a good flow. We have been quick, but have had no big moments." Ward added: "Neil has been spot on. The notes are good and he has actually been listening to them!”

  Bourne, who won in Trinidad in 2004 & ’08, slipped to third on Saturday behind the Group N Subaru Impreza N12 of locals Stuart Johnson and Lee Quesnel; despite a late charge over the final few stages, he fell short of the target by just two seconds.

  For many fans, however, Ireland’s Frank Kelly in his dancing MkII Escort ‘Baby Blue’ was the star. He finished sixth and top 2wd, with Jamaica’s Michael Fennell Jnr on the notes, a willing volunteer after regular driver Jeff Panton, with whom he won RT13, was a non-starter. Kelly returns for Sol Rally Barbados (May 30-June 1).


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.


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