HAWKINS IN FIRST FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2015

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HAWKINS IN FIRST FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS 2015

Britain’s Andy Hawkins was first in line when entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2015 opened this morning (October 1) – at 5.00am UK time, midnight in Barbados, he hit ‘send’ to confirm his return for the 25th Anniversary running of Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. Sol RB15 will run on Saturday and Sunday, May 30/31, with Scrutineering and Scotiabank King of the Hill the previous weekend, May 23/24.
 
His third visit to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International promises a nostalgic trip down memory lane, as he has recently tracked down and re-purchased the British Leyland Mini in which he first competed on the island in 2003. On that occasion, with co-driver Chris Prabucki, Hawkins earned a host of fans with his enthusiastic driving, which carried the Mini to 32nd overall and fifth in the Historic class.
 
Having largely retired from rallying after RB03, Hawkins concentrated on his love of motorcycling, enjoying major adventures in Turkey, the Sahara Desert and Morocco, before returning for Sol RB13, this time in a Volkswagen Golf GTI MkIV, built to mark the 10th anniversary of his first visit. With fellow Englishman Del Johnson as co-driver, he finished 50th overall and fifth in Modified 7.
 
Fresh from posting his on-line entry, Hawkins said: “Waiting for entries to open for Sol RB15 was far more exciting than queuing for a new iPhone 6! After leaving Barbados in 2013, I decided there is no way I would leave it another 10 years before heading back, so pinned on the idea of the 25th Anniversary event in 2015.”
 
This season, Hawkins, an IT consultant from Newark in the British Midlands, has been contesting the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship in the Golf. He leads Class B11 ahead of the final round, the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages, to be run on military land on the Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland on Sunday, November 9.
 
Finding his former Mini was not as difficult as he might have expected: “Back in March, I was working on the Ashadi Rallysport web site and started wondering what happened to the Mini, as everyone in Barbados loved her back in ‘03! I found a copy of the receipt that I had given the new owner when I sold her in 2006, so I contacted him. He said ‘she is still here with me, and in rude health’.
 
“He had done nothing with the car, as his plans had changed, and she had been dry-stored since leaving me, with MoT tests and services every so often. We struck a deal and she is now back in my hands, after being away for almost eight years, pretty much exactly as I sold her . . . still sporting the event numbers from the last rally I did in the UK, and still with the RB03 tax disc in the window.”
 
Unlike two years ago, when the Golf was a ground-up new rally car build, life will be easier for Hawkins with the Mini: “It will not be a complete rebuild, but a lot still needs doing to bring the car up to current regulations, mostly simple things like seats, harnesses, extinguishers and so on. She needs some TLC to be up to my standard, but the one thing that will remain is the roof flag that everyone fell in love with in RB03.”
 
Fans can track the team’s preparations on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ashadirs) and the Ashadi Rally Sport web site (www.ashadi.co.uk). Sponsors will be Plastics 4 Performance, JAZ Computer Services and NAMIK Ltd, with the co-driver to be confirmed.
 
On-line entries on the official web site - www.rallybarbados.net – will remain open until mid-May 2015, although organisers are urging early on-line entry, as numbers have risen significantly in recent years.
 
Neil Barnard, PRO of the organising club, said: "Planning is well under way, in fact the route is already pretty much confirmed. We’re keen to mark the 25th Anniversary with a classic event, worthy of this important milestone in the Club's history, but without losing sight of the core values of our premier event - a seriously competitive rally, fought out in a relaxed, clubman-style atmosphere.
 
"I would encourage international crews to enter early, as the first 30 will again benefit from subsidies, especially those who have competed in previous years. It is fantastic that Sol Rally Barbados is on the ‘must-do’ list for so many overseas competitors, and a well-deserved tribute to those volunteer marshals and officials who help the Barbados Rally Club stage an event which measures up to world-class standards.”
 
Barbados Rally Club Driver’s and Class Championships go down to the wire
 
Entries also opened today (October 1) for the final event in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) 2014 Driver’s and Class Championships, the double-header Winter Tarmac Sprint on Sunday, October 12. Entries will close at 1.00pm next Wednesday (October 8), with a Briefing Meeting scheduled for the following day. After Scrutineering at Welchtown, St Peter at 9.00am, the event is slated for a 10.00am start. Round seven of the BRC Championship will run from Josey Hill to Lamberts, with the direction reversed for round eight. The finish is expected to be at approximately 3.00pm.
 
Sol Rally Barbados and Scotiabank King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which was founded in 1957; Sol RB15 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and the eighth 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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