Former United Kingdom national rally champion Roger Duckworth will make his third trip to Sol Rally Barbados this year, bringing to a record-breaking 11 the number of entries in the two classes catering for World Rally Cars.
In returning to Barbados Duckworth will break a personal record, too. He has rarely rallied outside the UK, doing so twice in Ireland and twice in Portugal, thus competing in a country for a third time is a new experience.
Having thoroughly enjoyed his two previous visits – both were prize drives for winning Rallye Sunseeker National – he was quick to enter again, once he knew his car would be ready but that was by no means certain, as he told rallybarbados.net.
†”Sadly, on the rallying front since last year, there is no story to tell – the car caught fire on the dock when it arrived back rom Barbados and it has taken until now to get the repairs done.”
Duckworth’s Subaru Impreza WRC S6 falls into WRC-2, where his opposition will be the newer Imprezas of Britain’s Kevin Procter and Rob Swann, plus Dean Serrao of Barbados, and the Toyota Corolla WRCs of Ireland’s Eddie Power and Barbados Toyota dealer Roger Hill. Duckworth’s co-driver will be the Welshman Alun Cook, who has sat with him many times in the past, although not yet in Barbados.
Thanks to the diligent work of the Autosportif crew, the car was ready for a shakedown in last Sunday’s Alan Healy Memorial Stages Rally, a single-venue tarmac rally at the Cadwell Park race circuit in Lincolnshire. Winner last year, Duckworth was seeded at one, but had not competed since Sol Rally Barbados 2012.
†”Apart from the Goodwood Festival of Speed Forest Stage driving a car that used to belong to me [Colin McRae’s 1997 RAC-winning Impreza, P12 WRC], I haven’t been out at all. This means I will be somewhat rusty, but I am still very much looking forward to Barbados,” he said.
Having started rallying in 1989, Duckworth has driven a variety of marques, including Daihatsu and Ford – he had an extremely rapid Ford Sierra 4 x 4 – but, since 1997, has remained faithful to Subaru. He finished 11th overall and highest-placed amateur in Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship, then known as the Network Q RAC Rally, in his first season in an Autosportif-built Impreza 555, then won the Mintex National Rally Championship the following year in the same car.
After a couple of quiet seasons while he concentrated on building a new business, Duckworth returned in the ex-McRae Impreza. That has since been replaced by another former Prodrive Impreza, while Duckworth has remained a loyal customer of British preparation company Autosportif for 16 years.
Sol Rally Barbados 2013 revs off on June 1 and 2. (RB)†