IRISH MARSHALS HEAD FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

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IRISH MARSHALS HEAD FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

Two volunteers who marshalled at last month’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally will shortly be jetting off to Sol Rally Barbados 2014 for a once-in-a-lifetime two-week trip, courtesy of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) and the island's private sector Tourism Development Corporation; the prize includes return flights from London Gatwick on Virgin Atlantic Airways, accommodation and shared rental car for the duration.
 
Popular Irish competitor Frank Kelly, who will compete in Sol RB14, and 'Circuit' Manpower Manager Raymond Linton met outside the Titanic building in Belfast yesterday morning (Thursday) to pull two names ‘out of the hat’ from the more than 600 marshals who volunteered over the Easter weekend for Northern Ireland's round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
 
The BRC is this year celebrating the 25th running of its premier event, which has grown from small beginnings in 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International; it is scheduled for May 30-June 1, with Simpson Motors Scrutineering and Scotiabank King of the Hill the previous weekend (May 24/25).
 
Marshals Jason Jackson and Steve Reeves are the lucky winners, neither of whom quite believed it, when Linton called. Jackson, a 28-year-old mechanic from Newtownards, who marshalled on the Loughries and Ards Town Centre stages, was almost speechless: "I thought it was a wind up! It was my first time marshalling and I only signed up at the last minute. I really wanted to do it, because the stages were right on the doorstep of my work and home. I knew there was a prize to Barbados up for grabs but I never expected to win."
 
Reeves, who marshalled on both runs of the Buck's Head stage, is retired and lives close to Ballynahinch. He was equally enthusiastic: "It's going to take a while to sink in. The last time I marshalled was in the Mark II Escort days, back in the late 1970s and early '80s. I still have a keen interest, so when I found out that the event needed marshals through Volunteer Now, I was happy to sign up. Then I logged on to the Circuit web site and saw the information about the Sol Rally Barbados prize, so I registered on the web site as well. I'm completely surprised. It's a dream."
 
Linton said: "It's an absolutely fantastic prize, thanks must go to the Barbados Rally Club and the Tourism Development Corporation for making it possible." Assistant Clerk of the Course Des O'Loan added: "This superb prize really helped the Circuit of Ireland to recruit volunteers. It's great to see marshals being rewarded for giving up their spare time and I hope the relationship between the Circuit of Ireland and Sol Rally Barbados can continue to flourish for many years."
 
After making the draw, Kelly explained why he’s competing in Sol RB14: "I remember the original RPM television footage when Kenny McKinstry went over more than 20 years ago, and I've read a lot about it in Pacenotes Rally Magazine, so it's always been something that I've wanted to do. This year, I accidentally ended up with two cars so it provided the perfect opportunity. I'm expecting a lot of heat, very slippery tarmac and a real carnival atmosphere. I'm not going out to get a result - I just want to have fun!"
 
 
Spencer flies the flag for women drivers
 
Cheryl and Barry Spencer, from Portchester on the English south coast, will go rallying in the Caribbean for the third time this year, heading off in a few weeks time for Sol Rally Barbados (May 30-June 1). Cheryl will be the lone woman driver, as local competitor Shannon Kirton has returned to co-driving for Sol RB14; another 10 women co-drivers include seven more from overseas, four of whom are newcomers to the event.
 
Having enjoyed a holiday in the island at rally time the previous year, Cheryl (Bell, as she was then) and Barry returned to compete, in a Vauxhall Astra . . . and get married, which they did at The Boatyard two days before Sol RB08. Their first trip ended in disappointment, a wiring loom fire four stages from the finish causing retirement, but things went better the following year, 31st overall and second in Production 3.
 
This year, they will compete in the popular Clubman class in the Ford Fiesta formerly campaigned by Danny Williams. The Hampshire couple have backing from UK companies Tim Bingham Building Contractors Ltd, Waterfront Accident Repair, Motocolour Southampton, Car Call UK and Mission Bodyshop, while island businesses Cutters, 10 Saints, Solo Discount Warehouse and Sparkle Pools are also supporting their entry.
 
Cheryl says: “I’m so excited to be doing Sol RB14 and I’m back to burn rubber for the girls . . . so bring it on! A big thank-you to Chris Williams, who asked me to drive the car when he heard we’d booked a holiday to spectate, and to all our sponsors.”
 
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

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