Welsh teenager Gareth Parry got the surprise of his life yesterday morning (Thursday) when he learned that he will be competing in Sol Rally Barbados 2016 (June 3-5) and this Sunday’s Flow King of the Hill, which falls the day after his 18th birthday. He will co-drive for father Will in a Ford Escort MkII, run by Tsalta Motorsport, the Aberystwyth preparation business which has been a regular visitor to the island in recent years.
  His family had led Gareth to believe that the plan to bring their rally car had fallen through, because of last-minute issues. However, it sailed from Portsmouth in late April, along with 31 other rally cars, including two more Tsalta Motorsport MkIIs, for the company’s owners, Gary and Linda Thomas, and Gareth Richards and Aled Lloyd Jones.
  When he walked in to ‘Rally Central’, the secure storage facility and workshop in which overseas cars are hosted, Gareth was also accompanied by Mum Sue, his older brother Daniel and around 20 other members of the Tsalta Motorsport contingent. He was greeted by Rally Office Manager Jeanne Crawford and members of the organising team.
  Even when he was asked to assist in removing a dust sheet from one of the cars in storage, he did not quite realise the surprise to come. Once the car’s livery came into view, it started to sink in and an emotional father and son embraced, while the assembled crew members sang “Happy Birthday”, albeit a couple of days early.
  With Gareth’s parents and brother looking visibly relieved that they could finally relax, Will said: “Gary and Linda are close family friends and have helped make this all of this possible. It has been a long six weeks, and we really appreciate the efforts of the rally organisers, who have worked away behind the scenes to keep this under wraps.”
  Once he had composed himself, birthday boy Gareth said: “I don’t know what to say! Dad told me the car would not be ready! I had a suspicion, but didn't really give it much thought. I just didn't think it would be possible without him telling me!”
Sol Rally Barbados (June 3-5) and Flow King of the Hill (May 29) are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2017; title sponsors are the Sol Group and Flow. Marketing partners are Simpson Motors, Automotive Art and Banks; official partners are Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Geest Line and the Tourism Development Corporation; associate sponsors are Chefette and Stoute’s Car Rental.
Photo Himal Reece.