Two volunteers who marshalled at last month’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit Of Ireland Rally will shortly be in the island for Sol Rally Barbados 2014 for a once-in-a-lifetime two-week trip, courtesy of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) and the island’s private sector Tourism Development Corporation.
The prize includes return flights from London Gatwick on Virgin Atlantic Airways, accommodation and shared rental car for the duration.
Popular Irish competitor Frank Kelly, who will compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2014, and Circuit Manpower Manager Raymond Linton met outside the Titanic building in Belfast yesterday morning to pull two names ‘out of the hat’ from the more than 600 marshals who volunteered over the Easter weekend for Northern Ireland’s round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Barbados Rally Club is this year celebrating the 25th running of its premier event, which has grown from small beginnings in 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International. It is scheduled for May 30 and June 1, with Simpson Motors scrutineering and Scotiabank King of The Hill the previous weekend, May 24 and 25.
Marshals Jason Jackson and Steve Reeves are the lucky winners, neither of whom quite believed it, when Linton called. Jackson, a 28-year-old mechanic from Newtownards, who marshalled on the Loughries and Ards Town Centre stages, was almost speechless.
“I thought it was a wind up! It was my first time marshalling and I only signed up at the last minute. I really wanted to do it, because the stages were right on the doorstep of my work and home. I knew there was a prize to Barbados up for grabs but I never expected to win.”
Reeves, who marshalled on both runs of the Buck’s Head stage, is retired and lives close to Ballynahinch. He was equally enthusiastic.
“It’s going to take a while to sink in. The last time I marshalled was in the Mark II Escort days, back in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. I still have a keen interest, so when I found out that the event needed marshals through Volunteer Now, I was happy to sign up. Then I logged on to the circuit website and saw the information about the Sol Rally Barbados prize, so I registered on the web site as well. I’m completely surprised. It’s a dream.”
Linton said: “It’s an absolutely fantastic prize, thanks must go to the Barbados Rally Club and the Tourism Development Corporation for making it possible.”
Assistant clerk of the Course Des O’Loan added: “This superb prize really helped the Circuit of Ireland to recruit volunteers. It’s great to see marshals being rewarded for giving up their spare time and I hope the relationship between the Circuit of Ireland and Sol Rally Barbados can continue to flourish for many years.”
After making the draw, Kelly explained why he’s competing in Sol Rally Barbados 2014.
“I remember the original RPM television footage when Kenny McKinstry went over more than 20 years ago, and I’ve read a lot about it in Pacenotes Rally Magazine, so it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do. This year, I accidentally ended up with two cars so it provided the perfect opportunity. I’m expecting a lot of heat, very slippery tarmac and a real carnival atmosphere. I’m not going out to get a result – I just want to have fun!” (RB)