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Newcomers from Jersey, Darryl Morris and Steve Gully, pictured by M&H Photography winning their class at the Snetterton Stages in England in 2017
Richard Seal was running strongly on the Bovington Stages earlier this year until diff casing failure
Pete Rayner has so far done only one event in his recently-acquired MkII Escort, finishing seventh on the 2019 Snetterton Stages
Steve Finch pictured in action in Barbados by Andre Williams


Skeete beats Swann to Shakedown Stages title

First-timers Darryl Morris and Steve Gully will spearhead a full-on Ford Escort attack on Sol Rally Barbados 2019, the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. Class-winners on the annual Jersey Rally for the last four years, second overall in 2017 and again last year, they will be joined by Pete Rayner, who first introduced Morris to the Caribbean event and returns for the first time since 2016.

Sol RB19 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show on the previous Saturday (May 25) followed by Flow King of the Hill at its new Stewarts Hill location on the Sunday; in three decades, it has evolved from small beginnings as the All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar.

Good friends in and out of motor sport, former kart racer ‘PartyBoy’ Morris and ‘ChadBadger’ Gully were both born, live and work in Jersey, a British Protectorate with a motor sport history dating back to 1935. They have been competing as a team for the past five years, combining local events with regular trips to England, where class wins have also been achieved at single-venue events at Rockingham and Snetterton, with overall finishes well inside the top 10.

Co-driver Gully explains: “Our usual race plan each year sees us take in between three and five events off-island, mainly in the South and East of England, plus two events in Jersey and one in Guernsey. But this year, Barbados is our sole off-island foray. Hence our excitement about this! Darryl has been over with the Rayner family as part of their service crew on a couple of occasions and that is what triggered our interest to participate.” And they are making a family holiday out of it, too, a group of 10 in all.

The Escort, which is sponsored by the driver’s Morris Marine & Motors business, was acquired in 2014 to replace a similar car in which Morris had a major accident on the Jersey Rally that might have ended a less-determined driver’s rallying ambitions. Gully says: “He hit a tree head on at 70mph, which pushed the steering rack into his knee; he was in hospital for two weeks, and needed a wheel chair for several months after until he could walk properly again.” Undeterred, Morris was back in action on the same event a year later, fourth overall and class-winner.

Gully adds: “Since acquiring the car, Darryl has improved various aspects, including an upgrade to a short stroke engine, uprated suspension and paddle shift technology. The engine is still a 2-litre and pushing out substantially less bhp than the 2.5 Millingtons, but it still shifts and has gotten us some good results in the last few years.”

Rayner has replaced his familiar yellow MkII Escort with a Millington Diamond-engined car built by John Indri, who finished ninth on Britain’s first closed-road event, the Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton, last April; with daughter Maria co-driving, he finished an impressive seventh on his debut in the car at Snetterton in February and will have tackled this year’s Clacton event just a week before the car was shipped from Dover. He said: “I didn’t realise two Escorts could be so different, seating position, suspension, bigger wheels, bigger brakes, and paddle shift. I’m having to learn it all over again . . . but it is very quick, and very good fun!” He will have Ashley Trimble as co-driver in Barbados.

Also entered with MkII Escorts in SuperModified 2 are Steve Finch and Richard Seal, both repeat visitors. Finch finished fourth overall and class-winner at the Snetterton Stages in February, driving his recently-acquired Ford Fiesta R5, as the Escort which he is bringing to Barbados does not fit UK regulations; his MkII has also been upgraded with a Millington Diamond engine and paddle shift. Seal has replaced the MkI in which he competed in the island two years ago with a MkII, which has just had a major refresh in Ireland, following diff casing failure at the Bovington Stages earlier this year. While Finch is yet to confirm his co-driver, Seal, who will be partnered by local competitor Kareem Gaskin, says: “I’m looking forward to some added local support!”

Skeete beats Swann to Shakedown Stages title

A thrilling high-speed battle between rising island star Dane Skeete and Britain’s Rob Swann in a pair of Subaru Impreza WRC S12Bs launched the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Driver’s and Class Championships in fine style last Sunday (April 7). Hundreds of spectators lined three special stage venues in the north of the island for the BRC Shakedown Stages to see Skeete and co-driver Tyler Mayhew soak up the pressure from the experienced Swann, fighting back through the field after losing time early on, and win by less than two seconds.

Seeded at one, Swann and co-driver Darren Garrod lost 11 seconds to Skeete on the first Josey Hill stage, when a boost pipe came off about three corners in, then another 4secs with launch control failure on the start of stage two. Swann said: “We’d fixed the problem and won the next six stages and got the gap down to half-a-second with two stages to go. Then the launch stopped working completely! Not so bad in Four Hills, as it is a down-hill start and we still managed to win the stage, but the Rock Hall start was up hill; we pushed hard, went a second quicker then the previous run but it wasn’t enough.”

Swann’s fight-back was helped on the first stage after lunch, as Skeete explains: “I think if Rob didn't have the issues he had today, I wouldn't have ended up where I did, especially considering I had a slight off in the afternoon in Four Hills. I'm still green in the car and I haven't gotten heavy braking in the car right yet, so there is still a lot more learning to do.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB19 marks the 12th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fourth by communications provider Flow.

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