With less than two weeks to go before their cars are due to sail from Portsmouth on the English south coast for the 11-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Geest Line freighter Klipper Stream, competitors the length and breadth of the UK are making final preparations for Sol Rally Barbados 2015.
  As the closing date approaches, repeat visitors from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales carry to 33 the number of overseas crews confirmed, including those from around the region, with further announcements due in the coming weeks. Sol RB15 (May 29-31) marks the 25th Anniversary of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, which follows Simpson Motors Scrutineering and LIME King of the Hill the previous weekend.
  Between them, Ireland’s Peter Gallagher, Scotland’s Kenny Hall, Rupert Lomax from Wales and England’s Nigel Worswick have made more than 25 trips to compete in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international.
  Gallagher is making his ninth trip, bringing the Dublin Crystal-backed Peugeot 206 in which he finished 45th overall and third in Modified 6 two years ago, with regular local co-driver Rene Forde; since he first competed in Barbados – as co-driver to Martin Taylor for the first two years – he has never failed to achieve an overall finish. He was second in Clubman last year, in the same Peugeot 306 in which he had won Production 3 in Sol RB08, and has also finished second in M5 (Sol RB12, Talbot Samba).
  For Kenny Hall, whose 13th year competing is second only to Martin Stockdale’s record 15th visit among the International regulars, an overall finish and class result would make the trip worthwhile. After the Halltune Garage Opel Corsa retired with mechanical problems caused on his first visit in 2002, he finished first or second in class for five of the next seven years, losing a M6 certain victory in 2010, after a wrong slot in the SuperSpecial at Simpson Motors. The Puma was damaged in subsequent accidents, but returns this year, with Holland’s Fenny Wesselink again the co-driver, on her 10th trip.
  Welsh crew Rupert Lomax and co-driver-cum-preparation wizard Dave ‘Squeek’ Alcock will be back for their fourth visit, having finished 13th overall, winning Group A, last year, thrilling fans at the Vaucluse ‘Ninety’ on the way. When the DigIt Plant Hire/SMS Motorsport/Almax Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI slipped into the ditch on the right of the stage heading north, few believed the car would emerge unscathed . . . but it did, and the collective cheer from the crowd could be heard islandwide.
  Last year, Alcock ticked another of his rallying boxes when he finished 15th overall and third in class, co-driving with Rikki Proffitt in a Toyota Corolla in New Zealand’s eight-day Silver Fern Historic Rally, while Lomax is currently lying fifth overall and second in class in the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship in his Ford Escort MkI RS1600.
  Nigel Worswick returns for a fifth consecutive visit. He finished 15th overall last year, third in SuperModified 11 in his Worswick Engineering/Rallytech Composites/Rockwell Automation Escort MkII; he was delighted with his best result so far, particularly as it was the first major rally for co-driver Rebecca Kirsch. He had been hoping to bring his Ford Escort WRC – he is entered in the Manx National and the shipping dates clash – but is still is looking forward to this year, with a faster engine now in the Escort.
Armstrong and Clarke return to heat up two-wheel-drive
All bets are off in the two-wheel-drive battle for Sol Rally Barbados 2015, as Neil Armstrong and Brett Clarke post entries on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net. Their names are added to an already impressive list of potential front-runners, including Stuart Maloney, Josh Read, Dane Skeete and last year’s top 2wd finisher Rhett Watson, with Roger and Barry Mayers and Cliff Roett committed to enter in the next few days.
  Driving his Toyota Starlet, Armstrong claimed a hat-trick of class wins in Sol RB (2010-’12) and was highest-placed 2wd in 2011 (sixth) and 2012 (fifth), before he moved to WRC-1 in the Simpson Motors Suzuki SX4 WRC. Clarke’s Citroen C2 is a former works S1600 car campaigned in the past by reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier, although now with a 2-litre engine; he was a front-runner in 2wd in King of the Hill in both 2012 & ’13, but could not carry the same success through to the main event.
  With the Starlet of Josh Read, the Peugeot 306 Maxis of Maloney and Skeete, Watson’s BMW M3, along with others in his class, such as Justin Campbell and Owen and Sammy Cumberbatch, not to mention the potential of the overseas entry, there is again a strong chance the battle for 2wd could eclipse that for overall supremacy in the 25th Anniversary of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event.
Sol Rally Barbados and LIME King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which was founded in 1957; Sol RB15 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and the eighth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.
Photo by Ian Nicholls
For further media information: e-mail - robin@bradfax.com
web sites: www.rallybarbados.net; www.barbadosrallyclub.com