FORDS REFRESHED FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS RETURN

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FORDS REFRESHED FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS RETURN

Snetterton Stages shakedown for Swann on Sunday

Two long-standing British supporters of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event have been hard at work refreshing their respective Fords in readiness for Sol Rally Barbados 2017, when they will reach a total of 21 visits between them. Andrew Costin-Hurley returns for the 14th time since his debut in 2003, while Nigel Worswick has been every year since 2011.

  As the BRC celebrates its 60th Anniversary, Sol RB17 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 2-4, with Flow King of the Hill, on which the seeding for the main event is based, the previous Sunday (May 28). Since entries opened on October 1 on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, more than 60 have been posted, two-thirds from overseas.

  Costin-Hurley will again drive his Cygnet Plant/Earl’s Performance Hoses/Wootton Tyres Ford Puma Evo, in which he claimed a fifth Group B win last year, finishing 25th overall (although GpB cars are not eligible for overall awards). Costin-Hurley said: “Athough I have previously finished higher overall, I think this result is my best, as the strength and quality of the field was so extraordinarily high and there were fewer retirements.”

  That does not deter the race car engineer from wanting to further improve his self-designed and built Puma, however, so the engine has been rebuilt: “It still seemed strong and has done a sterling job - testament to the strength of the Cosworth design - but after being in all three of my rally cars (two Sierras and the Puma) with a life measured in decades rather than years, a rebuild was probably somewhat overdue!”

  This year, losing some weight was also a priority, a target assisted by the need to recruit a new co-driver, as his Group-winning partner of last year, Rob Brook, is unavailable. Costin-Hurley says: “I’m a bit obsessed with squeezing all possible weight out of the car (the head of every fastener is trimmed to save weight - yes, really!) and my new co-driver will further help that cause.”

  For Sol RB17, Emma Morrison joins the team, on the recommendation of Bryan Hull, who co-drove for Costin-Hurley in RB05; a former member of the Armed Forces Rally Team and a co-driver for 14 years, with a number of Championship titles to her credit, her 'bucket list' included Sol Rally Barbados. Costin-Hurley adds: “Without being too specific (in deference to previous co-drivers!), Emma’s arrival combined with the work I’ve been doing represents a projected weight saving of about 70kg.”

  For Worswick, who has caught the Barbados bug sufficiently to pop back to the island for holidays out of rally season, an engine rebuild was a necessity. After five years campaigning his Ford Escort MkII, with a best result of 15th overall in Sol RB14, he arrived last year with his Worswick Engineering/Rallytech Composites Ford Escort WRC, looking to improve yet further. All went well at Flow King of the Hill, 14th overall, but a valve in the anti-lag system failed late on Saturday, after Worswick had been consistently running 13th overall.

  Worswick told rallybarbados.net: “After last year’s disappointment when parts got into the engine, we are determined to come back and finish, so I have been flat out getting ready; the first bit of good news is that, following some uncertainty, Rebecca Kirsch is back co-driving this year. The engine and turbo are fully rebuilt, with a slight upgrade to the engine, I have reconditioned the diffs, driveshafts, brakes and so on, but the biggest upgrade is a massive design project to convert the gearbox to sequential.

  “We’re having to design and make all the parts from scratch, I am fitting a load cell gearknob and hence a flat-shift change. Its a race against time to get it completed and tested before shipping in April, but the car has the spare lower-spec box in at the moment, so its definitely coming. We have also been fortunate to acquire a factory suspension set-up sheet, so we’re hoping to be quicker through the bends as well!”

Snetterton Stages shakedown for Swann on Sunday

Sol Rally Barbados regular Rob Swann is seeded at number four for Sunday’s (February 19) Snetterton Stages Rally in the east of England, round five of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship in association with MSVR. With an entry just a couple shy of the cap of 90 crews, the event will be Swann’s final shakedown of the Elegant Hotels/Blue Sky Luxury/Cygnet Plant Subaru Impreza WRC S12B before it ships to Barbados in readiness for the BRC Shakedown Stages on April 23.

  Swann has not competed in a single-venue event at the Norfolk race track before, but has spectated there: “Snetterton is very local for me, so it made sense to take part. The S12B is fully rebuilt after competing on gravel towards the end of last year and back in tarmac trim. We have a fresh engine and gearbox ready to shake down on Sunday and then, all being well, it will be on the boat for Barbados.”

  Steve Finch and Peter Rayner, who have competed in Sol Rally Barbados for the past two years, are also on the entry in their MkII Escorts, Finch’s family business the principal sponsor of the event. Finch has Ashley Davies co-driving, while Rayner’s daughter Maria is in the hot seat in his car and son Aaron is co-driving for Swann.

 

Sol Rally Barbados (June 2-4, 2017) and Flow King of the Hill (May 28) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrates 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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