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Despite a shakedown at last Sunday’s (April 9) Alan Healy Memorial Rally at Cadwell Park not going entirely to plan, former UK National Rally Champion Roger Duckworth has confirmed he will compete in Sol Rally Barbados for the seventh consecutive year in his ex-Juha Kankkunen Intrinsys Subaru Impreza WRC S6. Confirmation of Duckworth and newcomer Brandon Smith brings to 32 the total of overseas crews now committed to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International.

  As the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) marks its 60th Anniversary, Sol RB17 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 2-4, and Flow King of the Hill, on which the seeding for the main event is based, the previous Sunday (May 28). More than 90 entries have been posted since October 1 on the official web site,, with the entry closing date just two weeks’ away, on Friday, April 28.

  At the nine-stage Cadwell Park event, Duckworth’s co-driver was Mark Broomfield, who will join him in Barbados again this year, but only for Flow KotH. Alun Cook will sit with Duckworth for Sol RB17, his first visit to the BRC’s premier event since 2013, when they finished fifth and won the newly-introduced WRC-2 category.

  Duckworth told “With Mark only available for King of the Hill, Alun enjoyed the last time sufficiently to make a hole in his busy schedule to join me for the rally, which is great. We did Wales Rally GB National at the end of last year together and finished third after three tough days, despite having a severe lack of boost on the first day, which we were only able to fix at the end of the day, which was the longest. So, not too shabby for the first gravel event I covered more than a few miles on since Rallye Sunseeker 2013.”

  A similar lack of power hobbled Duckworth at Cadwell Park, which attracted a huge crowd on a bright and sunny day. Although he ended the day eighth as the problem proved difficult to trace, it was nevertheless a more positive outcome than the previous two years, at Cadwell in 2015 and the Get it Sideways Stages Rally last year, where an unplanned trip into the scenery required an urgent visit to the body shop just days before the Impreza was due to be shipped across the Atlantic.

  Duckworth’s first two Sol RB entries were prizes for winning Rallye Sunseeker National - in 2011 and ’12 – and he has returned every year since, winning WRC-2 three times at KotH and twice in Sol RB in his Subaru Impreza WRC S6. With only one retirement in the island to his name – gearbox problems in Sol RB15 – Duckworth has finished fifth and sixth overall twice each, seventh once.

  Duckworth added: “I am looking forward to the trip, especially as the family will be with me again. As for WRC-2, it looks as though Nigel Worswick is determined to get a bit further than last year which is good; he’s an old adversary of mine from the days when I had my Sierra 4x4, and I guess I see any newcomer in either WRC class as good competition, like Graham Coffey in his Impreza.”

  Duckworth has been rallying since 1989 in a variety of marques, including Daihatsu and Ford – he had a very quick Ford Sierra 4 x 4 – but has remained faithful to Subaru for 20 years. He finished 11th overall and highest-placed amateur in the 1997 Network Q RAC Rally, in his first season in an Impreza 555, then won the 1998 Mintex National Rally Championship in the same car. After a couple of quiet seasons, while he concentrated on building his new business, Duckworth returned in the ex-Prodrive Impreza WRC that Colin McRae had driven to victory the ’97 Network Q. That was replaced in 2005 by his current ex-works Impreza, driven by Juha Kankkunen to eighth Rally Finland on Rally Finland 2000.

Stage Rally Champion Smith heads for Caribbean celebration

Fresh from victory on the B&G MOT Centre SMC Stages at Anglesey in north-west Wales last Sunday (April 9), the reigning Association of North West Car Club’s (ANWCC) Stage Rally Champion Brandon Smith has confirmed that he will compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2017, with co-driver Dylan Thomas, who shared last weekend’s victory.

  And the whole family is looking forward to the trip, which follows a trip by Smith last year as a spectator; when they are in Barbados, he and wife Bethan will celebrate their wedding anniversary and Bethan her birthday, while sons Eric and Sion, plus chief mechanic Dan Coxhead, complete the group. In their rallying programme, they are proud to support Wales Air Ambulance and the Shropshire Deaf Children’s Society.

  The Welsh pair headed an all-Darrian podium at Anglesey last weekend, defeating Chris Simmons and Andy Moss by just one second – they set identical times on two of the 10 stages – with Gareth Richards and Ian Jones another 30 seconds adrift. For Sol RB17, however, Smith and Thomas will compete in a Volkswagen Polo, sponsored by BCS Auto Repairs, D Thomas Flooring and KWS Executive Travel, remaining loyal to the German brand – Smith’s first rally car 25 years ago was a Volkswagen Scirocco.

  Garage owner Smith won last year’s ANWCC Championship, also the SD34 Stage Rally Championship Winner in 2015 and 2016, while co-driver Thomas has won ANWCC titles on both sides of the car: in 2012, he was the Novice Driver Champion in a Peugeot 106, having previously won class co-driver titles.


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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