Next year’s Sol Rally Barbados is already more than half-way to its cap of 100 starters, with continued strong interest from Ireland helping to drive the number of international entries posted on-line to more than 30 two months earlier than last year.
Since registration opened last month on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net†a total of 52 entries has been received, among them eight International crews new to the event.
Leading the Irish newcomers heading to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international are Enda McCormack and Tommy Doyle, who will drive Ford Escort MkII and Renault Clio R3 respectively, sponsored by McCormack Contracting Inc.
The Escort has been built new for the major Barbados motoring event by Philip Case Rallysport in County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland, where the Clio is currently undergoing a ground-up rebuild.
Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, McCormack won Class 15 for modified four-wheel-drive cars on his first attempt at the Dunlop Irish National Tarmac Rally in 2012, with only one non-finish. His advantage at year-end was one of the smallest margins of victory in the multi-class series, defeating former Irish Group N Champion Roy White in his 2.3-litre MG ZR S2000 by just four points.
Most of his rallying has been on the other side of the Atlantic, however, as he is based in New York. He has been a regular podium finisher in the United States Rally Championship since 2007, also in an Evo, and finished third in the 2010 USRC all-wheel-drive class; his best result was second in that year’s New York Winter Rally, with Doyle as co-driver.
In Barbados, which will be only McCormack’s second major rally in a two-wheel-drive car, his co-driver will be Donegal’s Kieran McElhinney. The Escort, which enjoyed a successful first test in early November, is powered by a 292-horsepower, 2-litre Opel JRE racing engine, mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox.
As well as occasionally co-driving for McCormack, Doyle has also driven the Evo – he won Rally New York USA in 2011 by 23 seconds after around 100 stage miles in the Catskill Mountains, and finished fourth in this year’s Circuit of Munster Stages in Ireland; on both occasions, his co-driver was Liam Moynihan from Millstreet, County Cork, who will be travelling with him to Barbados.†