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Captured in this image from Jakob Ebrey Photography, Tom Preston led last weekend’s Wales Rally GB National despite tricky conditions, until clutch issues halted his Ford Fiestra WRC


Barbados praised for “advanced motor sport environment”

Britain’s Tom Preston is the first overseas driver to take advantage of the relaxation of the age cap for World Rally Cars entering Barbados Rally Club (BRC) events. Although disappointed at missing out on a second victory in the Wales Rally GB National, which he led for five of the eight stages last weekend (October 4/5), he entered his Hippo Motor Group Ford Fiesta WRC on-line for Sol Rally Barbados 2020 on Monday morning.

Preston has been a front-runner in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international for the past two years in his former Skoda Fabia R5, with co-driver Carl Williamson; ninth overall and Group A class-winner in Sol RB18, they improved to fourth overall and second in the new FIA R5 class this year, finishing just six seconds behind Scotland’s Andy Scott (Fiesta R5) after swapping times throughout the weekend.

Having initially left his Fabia in Barbados after Sol RB19, Preston had already acquired the ex-Charlie Payne Fiesta by the time the BRC EGM voted to extend the age cap on WRC cars to 2016. At the time, he said: “Rally Barbados is an event that I always look forward to, as do all the family and our friends, so I would have been gutted to miss out for 2020. Clearly, we will be pushing as always for a strong result next year and doing a few doughnuts along the way!” The Fabia has since returned to the UK for a refresh but is rumoured to be heading back across the Atlantic to a new owner.

The Fiesta has a good record, Payne having clocked up six wins and a further four podium finishes between 2017 and early this year – all with Williamson as co-driver – while seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi and co-driver Carlo Cassina won the 2017 Monza Rally Show in a one-off outing. Preston has followed suit, finishing second on his debut in the car, then winning the Tyneside Stages in August (with Andrew Roughead co-driving), although he retired from the Trackrod Stages in September and the WRGB National with differential and clutch failure respectively. Admitting that the Fiesta is “completely different to drive to the Skoda”, Preston will gain more seat time in the Malton Forest Rally in Yorkshire in November before rounding off his 2019 season at the Grizedale Stages in Cumbria in early December.

Rally Club PRO Neil Barnard said: “Tom was messaging me throughout the summer regarding the confirmation of dates for 2020, so I fully expected him to quick off the mark to enter. He’ll have to maintain that pace during next year’s event, though, based on what I hear the competition in the WRC class is likely to be!”


Barbados praised for “advanced motor sport environment”

The Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) earned praise for the island’s “very advanced motor sport environment” during a Regional Train the Trainers Course organised by world governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), in Panama City last month and attended by more than 30 participants from 19 countries.

Experienced senior officials Jeff Bovell and Kevin Chesney-Bynoe, Stage Commander and Deputy SC respectively, were selected to attend in a move to increase the number of qualified trainers available in the island. And they will be applying their enhanced knowledge very soon at a Marshals Training Session on Saturday, October 19, the weekend before the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Winter Rally.

BMF Vice-President Mark Hamilton said: “During the de-brief which rounded off the weekend, Barbados was recognised as a very advanced motor sport environment, second only to Mexico, which of course hosts a round of the World Rally Championship. Jeff and Kevin carried some of our Sol Rally Barbados material with them, the 2019 Post-event Review and our spectator hand-outs, which seem to have impressed other delegates, who were surprised at the level at which our motor sport operates. Both said that they had not only gained valuable reinforcement of their previous training, but also learned additional information to enhance their performance going forward.”

The BRC’s Winter Rally on Sunday, October 27, is the first event to fall within the Club’s Marshal Exchange Incentive Programme, sponsored by Chefette Restaurants. Three Bajan marshals will travel to next year’s second edition of the closed-road Rali Bae Ceredigion in Wales, with Welsh marshals attending Sol Rally Barbados 2020. The Marshal Registration and Training Session will be held at Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, at 6.00pm on October 19, with the training primarily focussed on communication, incident handling and general safety. Hamilton added: “The island’s body of motor sport marshals has a solid core of enthusiastic and committed volunteers, some of whom have served the sport for 30 or more years. That said, we are conscious of the need to attract new recruits, so have been working to put a framework in place that would encourage some of the island’s thousands of fans to consider getting closer to the action and contributing to sustaining the sport at the same time.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB20 marks the 13th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fifth by communications provider Flow

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