Former British Historic Rally Championship class-winners Chris Shooter and Bev LeGood will make their Caribbean debut on Sol Rally Barbados 2014, bringing to 21 the number of international crews so far confirmed for this year’s event.
With less than two weeks to go before the closing date, more than one-third of the entries received on the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – are from the wider Caribbean or further afield.
The Barbados Rally Club is celebrating the 25th running of its premier event, which has grown from small beginnings into the region’s biggest annual motor sport international.
It is scheduled for May 30-June 1, with Scotiabank King of the Hill and Simpson Motors scrutineering the previous weekend, May 24 and 25.
The Sparrow Hill Cars Ford Escort MkII, which motor trader Shooter built in 2005, is prepared to MSA Historic specification and powered by two-litre 195bhp Pinto engine. From Loughborough in Leicestershire, the couple were regular competitors in the British Historic Rally Championship from 2006 to 2011, winning their class in 2008 and collecting the Shekhar Mehta Spirit Of Rallying Award the following year.
The award, a cast bronze Cheetah on a plinth, was presented to the BHRC winner in memory of her late husband, one of the legends of rallying, by Yvonne Mehta, who is familiar with Barbados, having competed in Sol Rally Barbados 2010 as co-driver to New Zealand’s Rob Whitehouse.
During the presentation BHRC co-ordinator Simon Marks said: “Chris and Bev work hard to afford their rallying and they are good people to have around the championship. They are proper club competitors and will help anybody out if they can.”
Since 2011, they have cut down on their rallying, continuing to compete on the Tour Of Flanders, formerly a round of the BHRC, then Rally Isle Of Man and Wales Rally Great Britain in 2013. They have been class-winners in Flanders and last year finished tenth overall on Rally Isle Of Man and 29th overall on the national event at Wales Rally Great Britain.
Shooter was rallying long before he was a driver, some of his earliest memories being of sitting in the rear seat of a rear-engined NSU Prinz, while his parents competed on clubman events. He started in road rallies in the late 1980s, moving on to special stage events in the mid-1990s. After a short break to go kart racing, he returned to stage rallying when he built his Escort – he and LeGood have been competing together for 24 years.
They heard about Sol Rally Barbados from Phil and Mick Squires of Rally & Equipment, one of the United Kingdom’s leading suppliers of Ford Escort competition parts for more than 25 years.
The Squires twin also have a long association with a number of Escort owners in Barbados, and Mick is returning for a second year in 2014 as a co-driver. Last year, he and Andrew Jones finished 30th overall and winners of SuperModified 11. For 2014, he will sit with Graham Manning, who missed Sol Rally Barbados 2013 through injury.
On events, the Escort is maintained by the couple’s long-time friend, Sean Harle. Travelling with the team is another of Shooter’s good friends, former circuit racer Antony Pownall, who owns a number of veteran cars, including a 1901 De-Dion Bouton, in which Shooter has finished the world-famous London To Brighton Veteran Car Run. (RB)