SOL RALLY BARBADOS REUNION FOR ‘FLYING FARMER’ UK regulars support Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship

Friday, 3rd March 2017

Sol Rally Barbados will play host to a family reunion in 2017 as first-time participants, husband and wife Jon and Alison Trenholme, will be joined by Jon’s sister Katharine, who is making the 23,000-mile round trip to the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event from her home in Brisbane, Australia, for only their second get-together in four years.
 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 70 have been posted, two-thirds from overseas.
 Trenholme works an arable and livestock farm near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, where his rallying exploits have earned him the nickname ‘The Flying Farmer’, while Alison is an accountant. Sister Katharine originally emigrated to Australia to work as a parasitologist, but has recently established a graphic design business, with her brother’s rally car carrying a livery she designed.
 ‘Trendy’ and ‘Mrs T’, as they are also known, returned to the UK today (Friday) after a seven-day break, combining a holiday on the south coast at Time Out Hotel in St Lawrence Gap - a popular location among the overseas rallying fraternity - with some detailed island-wide research into the event. Armed with maps and road books acquired from friends who had competed in previous events, they drove many of the regularly-used stages to get a feel for the route and for the road surface.
 The Trenholmes had been aware of Sol RB for some years through friends who had competed, but had not considered doing so themselves as it clashed with the Jim Clark Rally, which they entered every year. When the 2015 event was cancelled, having already budgeted to compete, they decided on a holiday instead. As Jon said: “Barbados was the obvious choice, we had heard so much about the social side of the event and, I know it’s been said before, but really, what’s not to like?” More than that, having got to know more of the event’s regular crews, they came back to spectate last year, too.
 They have been competing together since 2012, in a Group A Subaru Impreza, originally built by Alex Taylor – well-known in the north of England for his unusual Subaru Forester rally estate – and now prepared by Chris Beckett of Rallyline. Concentrating on tarmac events, they have enjoyed some strong results in their short career. They finished Best Novice Crew and 18th overall (having been seeded at 72) in the 2013 North West Stages and class-winners in the 2013 North East Tarmac Challenge, going on to win the Association of Northern Car Clubs Multi-Use Championship in 2015. Last October, in what Jon considers their best result, they were 14th overall and second in class in the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally on the high-speed Otterburn military ranges in Northumberland.
 As they were preparing for their homeward journey, Alison said: “We can now see how the stages fit together, although we know the format will be different, and gained some valuable advice from friends who have competed regularly on the event. It's been good to catch up with our friends on the island for some R & R before we return in just over 10 weeks’ time for the real deal!”

UK regulars support Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship

The UK’s Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, with eight rounds from November to April, provides useful opportunities for Sol Rally Barbados crews to fit in a few quick test miles; with venues including Oulton Park in the north, Anglesey in the west, Snetterton in the east and Brands Hatch in the south, travel is kept to a minimum.
 Already, the past few months have seen names well-known in the island in action, including Steve Finch, Steve Perez – once co-driving for son Seb, then supporting him at each round - Kevin Procter, Pete Rayner, Rob Swann and Simon Wallis, along with confirmed 2017 newcomers Graham Coffey and Richard Seal and, of course, many known co-drivers, such as Aled Edwards, Steve McNulty and Tom Woodburn.
 Swann, who won his class at Snetterton two weeks ago in the event closest to his east of England home, found the day useful: “Single-venue events aren’t really my thing, but it was a good shakedown after a full rebuild. The car was OK, apart from a small issue with the front diff, so we had to manage it, and the power was a little down as we had to run a different exhaust to keep within MSA noise limits, and it just strangles it. You need a car weighing 900kgs with 350hp plus under the bonnet for that type of event!”
 The next round of the Championship is Sunday’s (March 5) Imperial Commercials Volkswagen Donington Rally in the Midlands which, unusually, only has one Sol RB regular in the field. Along with co-driver Paul Briggs, Paul Rees will be out in his Coconut Court Beach Hotel Vauxhall Astra, to give the new 2-litre engine a shakedown; the event is just 30 miles from home and he has been a regular finisher, 18th overall last year.
 Missing from this year’s event is Martin Stockdale, who finished eighth last year and third in class in his Divi Southwinds Beach Resort/Drive-a-Matic/Canems Engine Management/Quarry Motors BMW 1M Coupe. He told rallybarbados.net that he is “too busy building loads of BMWs for Caribbean customers!”

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.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey

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