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courtesy of Ian Nicholls Photography, of Sean Kukula and Emma Arthur getting some air in their Ford Escort MkII in Sol Rally Barbados 2018


Horton enters Galway International in Fiesta R5

The enthusiasm of the island’s fan base and the selflessness of fellow competitors are among the key drivers behind British couple Sean Kukula and Emma Arthur’s decision to return to Sol Rally Barbados for the third time this year. The 31st running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event is scheduled for Friday to Sunday, May 29 to 31, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill the previous weekend.

Kukula recalls many occasions when the unique atmosphere and camaraderie of the event has helped them through a tough situation, while co-driver Emma, who gets to celebrate her June birthday during their Caribbean trip, says: “We continue to be blown away by the support, enthusiasm and kindness shown to us by all involved, from the Rally Club guys, spectators and marshals to our fellow competitors. Sean and I are very much looking forward to coming back out in May to catch up with everyone.”

As before, they will enter their Ford Escort MkII in Historic 2, sponsored by Kukula’s employer Competition Supplies, which sell parts for race and rally cars from its base at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, the backing helping to mark his 50th birthday last year; additional support comes from Cobra Seats, DMD Motorsport Engineering, Lifeline Motorsport Fire Systems, Odyssey Batteries, Tilton Engineering and WOSPerformance.

Their debut in Sol RB16 was only the car’s third event since Kukula bought it: “I had owned the car since 1996 and had last used it in 1998, before it spent about 15 years acting as a makeshift shelving unit. Once I decided that I really needed to get it done, I entered Sol RB16 to give me a target. We got it built from a bare painted shell in three months of evenings and weekends and I drove for the first time in 19 years just eight days before heading to the docks for shipping.”

Despite a broken alternator wire costing a lot of time and a minor ‘off’ at the Bushy Park triangle resulting in the common MkII Escort rear quarter panel dent, they finished second in H2 in Sol RB16. Two years later, Flow King of the Hill did not go well, thanks to a faulty ignition system connection, as Kukula explains: “We received no end of help from fellow competitors trying to trace the problem, then started Sol RB18 full of hope, but spun on Saturday night, reversed in to a bank, blocked the exhaust and broke the mountings. After the ever-enthusiastic spectators cleared the exhaust allowing us to get on our way, we got back to service and were again helped by the selfless actions of other service crews, so we could make the overnight halt.

“On Sunday, determined to make up some places, the distributor drive gear broke at Malvern and put us out of the rally. Having been removed from the stage, we were yet again the recipients of help from the rally family with a hasty tow on a very short rope back to Bushy Park where fellow historic competitor Chris Shooter lent me his spare so I could join the fun and do some donuts on the final Bushy Park stage. All that kindness shown on stages and in the service areas really makes us want to come back.”

Horton enters Galway International in Fiesta R5

Turks & Caicos Rally Team member Paul Horton is the latest Sol Rally Barbados regular checking out his future options, with an entry in Sunday’s (February 2) Corrib Oil Galway International Rally, the opening of the 2020 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, in a Ford Fiesta R5. Seeded at number 20, one of 14 R5s in the provisional running order of 71 cars published at the weekend, Horton will be joined by Welsh co-driver Darren Garrod, who has three times finished second in Barbados with Rob Swann.

Ahead of what will be his first-ever rally in a four-wheel-drive car, Horton says: “I am a little apprehensive, but confident and excited. I am still looking at how to proceed after my years in two-wheel-drive with the Escort, then the Citroen; I have really enjoyed both, particularly the last couple of years racing with Jamal Brathwaite in his Honda, but I’m looking for a new challenge. Seeing how R5 is developing in Barbados, perhaps that is where I should go next?”

Horton has already tested the R5, supervised by double British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, who won his first BRC title in 2018 with Garrod as co-driver: “I’m very happy that Darren has agreed to nav for me. He and Matt have done a fantastic job making me feel comfortable in the car, so I am looking forward to Galway, to see whether I am comfortable in an R5 in competition.”

Running a week earlier than in the past, to avoid a clash with the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, round one of the British Rally Championship, Galway Motor Club’s event repeats last year’s successful format: three loops of three classic and challenging stages offer almost 120km of competitive driving, with centralised servicing around the town of Loughrea, 20 or so miles to the east of Rally HQ in the town of Galway.

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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