UK WOMEN S CREW HEAD FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

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UK WOMEN S CREW HEAD FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS

Former British Ladies Rally Champion Shelly Taunt, who won Saturday’s Driver of the Day Award at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, aims to tick one of the boxes on her rallying bucket list when she and co-driver Julie Murphy compete in next year’s 25th Anniversary running of Sol Rally Barbados in their Group N Subaru Impreza.

  They will be the first International all-female crew to contest the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, although former FIA Ladies Champion, Finland’s Minna Sillankorva competed in another All-Stage Rally in the island in 1992 in a Mazda 323 4wd turbo, co-driven by Italy’s Michela Marangoni.

  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. More than 50 entries have already been received on-line via the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, with almost six months to go before the closing date.

  Rally Director Neil Barnard said: “I have to say that the response this year has been quite astonishing. We have more than 40 overseas entries, around half of them are new to the event, and I am really pleased to say many of the newcomers from Europe have been encouraged to enter by teams who have become regular visitors in recent years.”

  Taunt has won more than 20 titles since she started rallying in 1995 after winning a ‘Find a Lady Rally Driver’ competition, half of them with co-driver and near-neighbour Murphy – they live just a few minutes apart in the villages of Highworth and Inglesham, just north of the Wiltshire town of Swindon. While a number of those titles are Ladies Champion – from her first in the Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs Championship in 1998 up to her Association of North East Midland Motor Clubs title in 2012 – she has also won the British F1400 Championship, the BRC RallyMasters Production Cup twice and three Class Championships.

  Although their existing sponsors Guest & Fiore Bricklayers, ASF Sign Factory, Combined Scaffolding, Jim Griffith Car Body Repairs and Julie Murphy’s Driving School are already on board, Shelly is looking for more through her web site, www.shellytauntrallying.co.uk. She said: “We are all so excited, and can't wait to be there. My ambitions include driving a World Rally Car and competing in Rally Finland and Sol Rally Barbados . . . given a bit more support, I’ll at least tick one box next year.”

 

Return visitors line up in bumper overseas entry

 

The total of on-line entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2015 registered through the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – has passed 50, with all but a handful of them being crews from the wider Caribbean or further afield, as the 25th Anniversary event looks set to host a record International field.

  Return visitors from the UK already feature strongly in the list, with Andrew Costin-Hurley planning his 12th visit, once again driving the Group B ARP/Earl’s Performance Hoses/Zeta Engineering Ford Puma, which he designed and built himself; his co-driver is yet to be confirmed. He was delighted with his result in 2014 – a personal best 21st overall, plus his third Group B win – but has still been working on the car: “I'm making some detail rear suspension geometry revisions. I felt considerably more confident in the car this year and have diagnosed some areas of the suspension that could be improved, which may make the car a little easier to drive and perhaps more competitive.”

  Rob Weir will return for the third time as a driver, in what will be one of his first events following a major rallying accident in the second half of 2013. His co-driver in the Weir Engineering/Weir Laundry Equipment/Ocean Two Resort/RSR Historic Engineering Triumph TR7 V8 will be Paul Willetts; although it will be his first time as a competitor in Barbados, he has been a regular visitor as a member of the Weir team’s support crew.

  Weir said: “My recovery is continuing, but at a slower pace than I had hoped for. I receive physio twice a week and swim two or three times a week. The level of discomfort is all muscular, within the neck. A number of people at home think I must be mad, but I have explained to them that I just want to take the TR7 back to Barbados and have some fun in it, as it was so well received in 2013.”

  Welshman Paul Rees returns for his fifth outing as a competitor with a Modified 7 Vauxhall Astra Mk2, with English co-driver Paul Briggs making his second trip. Rees has his own reason to celebrate this year, alongside the Barbados Rally Club, as early June marks his 10th wedding anniversary. Having first competed in 2003, Rees, who is a respected rally official in the UK and Marshal Liaison for Wales Rally GB, returned to work on the event as a Safety Officer alongside the local organisers, during which trips he met and married island motor sport stalwart Biddy Barber’s daughter Ali.

 

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 web sites: www.rallybarbados.net; www.barbadosrallyclub.com

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