Members of the Farnborough District Motor Club, based in the southern English county of Hampshire, will compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2016 to honour the memory of a club stalwart. Lifelong motor sport enthusiast Maurice May died last year before fulfilling his own dream of celebrating his 70th birthday by competing in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International.
  The Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event, Sol RB16 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 3-5; it is preceded by Scrutineering and the King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event the previous weekend (May 28/29), which will offer local enthusiasts their first chance to see overseas crews up close and in action.
  Maurice’s son Simon May is entered in the ASM Automotive Engineers Ford Escort MkII which his father had campaigned for a decade or so, with girlfriend Melissa Wheeler as co-driver. Close friend Russell Roberts, who had first been encouraged to compete this year by Maurice, is entered in his Peugeot 205, with Barry Simpson co-driving.
  Simon explained: “I have watched Rally Barbados on TV every year and Dad was planning to come over with a group of us to celebrate his 70th birthday.” Sadly, Maurice was diagnosed with cancer in February 2015 and died on May 8th, just a couple of weeks after his 69th birthday. After his death, Simon and his brother Adrian, plus a few other friends, decided they should all still take part in Sol RB16.
  Simon continued: “We’re doing it partly to fulfil his wishes and to celebrate his birthday as he would have wanted. The plan was that Adrian and I would compete in Dad’s car, with our partners with us to enjoy the holiday. Unfortunately, Adrian and his wife Liza are unable to come, as they have had the wonderful news that they are expecting their first baby, due in May. So, I am now doing the rally with my girlfriend Melissa. This will be her first-ever rally as a competitor! She has just passed her BARS test and is raring to come over and have a go.”
  Another FDMC member, Chris Surman, had also intended to compete this year in his Group A Subaru Impreza, but pressure of work has prevented him from doing so. He told “Maurice was such a good Club member, always helping us new members out. I really can't see us competing this year, but my hopes are still to come and watch and get involved with the guys as a tribute.”
  Surman’s comments on Maurice’s contribution to the sport were echoed by FDMC Chairman Simon Taylor in his Club report on last November’s JLT Tempest Rally, the only major gravel rally in the south of England, which was won by Sol RB regular Rob Swann for the third year in a row. The Warren Heath stage in Bramshill, one of the Tempest’s multiple locations, has traditionally been run by FDMC and was last year named in memory of Maurice May.
  Taylor wrote: “Maurice was a very keen supporter of this rally and always involved in promoting it, driving it and getting others involved. I suspect that most of the FDMC crews involved last weekend got started in rallying because of Maurice and his infectious enthusiasm.”
  Both Simon and Russell started competing in Minis. Simon has won a number of autotest and sprint championships, while Russell, a member of FDMC for more than 30 years, has competed in various disciplines, including circuit racing and beach autocross, while he is also happy on water: “My second love is sailing and I am hoping to compete in the Round Barbados Race one day.”
  And this is only the latest connection between FDMC and Barbados – Cathy Hughes and her partner Steve Castle, a former FDMC Chairman, were the winners of the prize trip to Sol RB13 in the lucky programme draw at London Rally for Heroes.
Island rally fans look forward to season-opener on Sunday
Barbados rally fans will enjoy their first slice of action since last season when the Motoring Club of Barbados Inc stages its Spring Blaze speed event on Sunday (March 20) at Diamond Corner, St Peter. Scheduled to start at 10.00am, it is also the opening round of the Barbados Rally Club’s Championship.
  It follows Annual Tech Scrutineering in the pits at Bushy Park, St Philip on Saturday (2.00 to 4.00pm), which coincides with one of the regular Bushy Park Track Days (11.00am to 5.00pm), which would allow competitors time for some last-minute test and tune activities. Spectator admission through the Pit gate is free.
  Spring Blaze will certainly provide some early pointers in the two-wheel-drive classes, with reigning BRC Champion Driver Rhett Watson (BMW M3) lining up against Dane Skeete, back at the wheel of his Peugeot 306 Maxi after last year’s late-season outings in father Roger’s Subaru Impreza WRC S12B. The Toyota Starlets of Josh Read and Neil Corbin are likely to be in the mix, also Andrew Jones (Ford Escort MkII).
  Other entries to note include the return of former BRC and MCBI Champion Driver Adrian Linton (Vauxhall Astra), while Stan Hartling (BMW M3) and Paul Horton (Ford Escort MkI) are flying in from the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Sol Rally Barbados is a tarmac rally, with around 22 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport & Works; Sol RB16 and the previous Sunday’s King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ event, are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017. Sol RB16 marks the ninth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

The late Maurice May in action in his blue Ford Escort MkII, in which son Simon will honour his memory by competing in Sol Rally Barbados 2016 -  credit Mark Sims/
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