The Geest Line freighter Agulhas Stream set sail from Portsmouth on the English south coast this morning today after two nights in port exchanging fruit and other produce from around the Caribbean for a shipment of rally cars bound for the region’s biggest annual motor sport International, Sol Rally Barbados 2014.
The ship will now spend ten days on its transatlantic voyage, via Le Havre in France and Martinique, before docking at the Bridgetown Port to offload its precious cargo of competition vehicles. They will compete against more than 60 regional crews in the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event over the weekend of May 30 and June 1, after Scotiabank King of the Hill, the “shakedown” on the previous Sunday.
The final international entries confirmed today include England’s Stuart Deeley, on his third trip in a third different car. After earlier outings in a Nissan Micra (class-winner in 2012) and Lotus Europa, he returns with a Group A Toyota Celica GT4 ST205, backed by Sandstone Brewery, MouseMat Computer Services, PEC and John Hardman Engineering.
Deeley drove the car, built specifically for Sol Rally Barbados 2014, for the first time less than a week ago.
“I’ve only driven it round the block, so there’s still a lot of learning to do – never driven 4 wheel drive or turbo in competition, nor had power steering, power brakes or power windows,” he said.
A Japanese import to the United Kingdom, the car is one of a limited number built to WRC specification, but for road use. His co-driver will be Trinidad’s Vishal Dhanraj.
Also shipped today is the Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV, returning after a year’s absence; with backing from Phillips Tyres of Oxford, Atwell Exports, Julielm House, JB Event Recruitment, Geest Line, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ullyetts Machine Shop Service and the Barbados Automobile Association, it will again be driven by OUMF Founder Ding Boston, with first-timer Andy Parsons as co-driver.
Finally, the freighter is carrying two cars headed for the island’s popular Clubman class, Ireland’s Peter Gallagher returning, this time with his Dublin Crystal Peugeot 306, with local co-driver Rene Forde again the co-driver. Back for his eighth visit, he and Forde finished third in Modified 6 last year in a 206, so face a different challenge this year.
Veteran English rally man Dick Mauger is usually seen in an historic-spec Ford Escort MkII or a Ford Focus WRC these days, but will compete in Barbados in a Nissan Micra, supported by Major Farm Services. Dick’s son Simon, who runs the family’s Major Motorsport business, was also entered but has had to postpone his Barbados debut through pressure of work. Dick will have the experienced Steve McNulty in the co-driver’s seat, his most regular partner over the past few years.
As happens every year, a group of the most loyal supporters of Sol Rally Barbados once again took time to travel to Portsmouth yesterday, a bank holiday in Britain, to assist in loading the cars yesterday. Led by Martin Stockdale, whose record of what will this year become 14 consecutive trips to compete in Barbados is unlikely ever to be broken. He was joined by friend and mechanic Julian Lockwood, plus Sol Rally Barbados regulars Andrew and Melissa Costin-Hurley, Stuart Deeley, John Hardman, Rob and Marie Swann and Simon Wallis, while newcomers Tim Green and Shona Hale – delivering Brian Watson’s Audi quattro S1, a round trip of more than 1,100 miles and 18 hours from Scotland – joined in to help.
Sol Rally Barbados’ rally office manager Jeanne Crawford said: “Every year, it makes such a different that these guys are willing to give up their time, and travel some serious miles, to help with loading. I am always being asked by new competitors about what happens to the cars, who looks after them, all that sort of thing. To know that Martin, Andrew and the crew are there is fantastic. They have got to know the guys who work on the dock, and that plays a big part in building confidence in our event. Thanks to all of them for what they do, on behalf of the Rally Club and all the competitors.”