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Sol RB organisers thank UK ‘connections’ for spreading the word

A family trip to the Caribbean last year to support his friend Rob Swann’s Sol Rally Barbados campaign coincided with Brit Richard Seal’s own search for his first rally car. So impressed was he with the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event that he will return to compete in Sol RB17 in his Ford Escort MkI, one of a growing number of first-time participants.

  Entries for Sol RB17, which opened on October 1 on the official web site, have now passed 40, with more than two-thirds of those posted from overseas. Entries will remain open until early May 2017, roughly a month before Sol RB17 (Friday to Sunday, June 2-4); Scrutineering and Flow King of the Hill will run the previous weekend, May 27/28.

  Seal, who lives not far from Reading in Berkshire, which has a significant ex-pat Bajan community, struck up a friendship with Swann through a shared interest in quad-bike racing, in which both their sons compete. Of his trip to Sol RB last year, Seal said: “We were fortunate enough to be invited by Rob Swann and his family in 2015. At the time, I was looking for an Escort and knew immediately that Rally Barbados was the place to go and compete. What a truly amazing, friendly place.”

  Spurred on by his trans-Atlantic trip, Seal intensified his search for an Escort, acquiring a 2-litre MkI Escort last October from one of UK motor sport’s longest-standing competitors, Derek Webb, who had campaigned it in Belgium with considerable success for some years. Within two weeks, Seal was making his competition debut, with Ralph Higson as Co-driver: “We were fortunate enough to compete in the last Tempest Rally, based near Aldershot, having only owned the car for a couple of weeks - we came a creditable 11th in class and 25th overall; getting to the finish was the priority.” Swann won that event in a Ford Fiesta R5.

  For Sol RB17, Seal’s co-driver will be near-neighbour Bruce Yeomans, who lives just four miles away, albeit across the county border in Hampshire. In March, they finished fourth in class on the Bovington Stages, improving to third in class (16th overall, of 39 finishers) in the Get it Sideways Rally at Down Ampney a month later, while Seal and Higson picked up another top 20 finish in the Challenger Stages in late November.

Sol RB organisers thank UK ‘connections’ for spreading the word

Sol Rally Barbados organisers have thanked regular British visitors for their efforts to promote the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International in recent weeks - Nigel Worswick and Simon Nutter in the UK, Steve McNulty in New Zealand, and the Facebook group Rally Barbados European Crews, started by Rob Brook, which is now just a handful short of 400 members.

  Sol RB Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “Word of mouth is so important. Our PR conveys a very positive message about the event and how it works, but in reality you cannot beat a satisfied customer going home and talking about it! For first-timers, it is a leap in the dark - they say goodbye to their rally car, their pride and joy, on a dock in the UK, hoping that it will be cared for.

  “The event has historically received encouraging words of support from many of our visitors and we are glad that this continues; thanks to Nigel, Simon and Steve, who have been talking to individual competitors, and Rob’s Facebook group, there’s a lot of personal experience being passed on. We know the event is on a lot of ‘bucket lists’, but the detail is important, shipping, how we look after the cars, Rally Central, all those components. These guys are doing a great job getting that message across.”

  Worswick, a competitor for the past six years, and Nutter, who made his Sol RB debut in 2016, were the guest speakers recently at the Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club’s monthly meeting in the Lake District, close to many famous rally stages in Cumbria. Worswick, who this week joined the growing list of Sol RB regulars to return to the island out of rally season (here to celebrate his birthday), reports: “There were around 50 people there, including my service crew, who are club members, and a few rally drivers who came along to see if it was something they could include on their ‘bucket list’.

  “The talk went on from about 8.30 till 10.00pm and we were told that people at the back of the room occasionally start chatting towards the end. There wasn’t one person doing this, so I reckon it went down well! After a run-down of the event, and a bit of mickey-taking between Simon and I, we talked about shipping, what it might cost and stressed how well the teams at both ends of the journey look after our pride and joy.”

  British co-driver McNulty, who has competed in Barbados twice with Dick Mauger, has been on holiday in New Zealand, where Kiwi legend Mike Marshall and he have been talking to all who will listen. McNulty, pictured on social media in Sol RB T-shirt and cap, says: “Been putting the word around about Sol Rally Barbados, met up with a few crews. They all knew about the rally and Mike doing the event, so lots of Barbados talk.”


Sol Rally Barbados (June 2-4, 2017) and Flow King of the Hill (May 28) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB17 marks the 10th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the second by communications provider Flow.

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