A family trip to the Caribbean last year to support his friend Rob Swann’s Sol Rally Barbados campaign coincided with Brit Richard Seal’s own search for his first rally car. So impressed was he with the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event that he will return to compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2017 in his Ford Escort MkI, one of a growing number of first-time participants.
Entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2017, which opened on October 1 on the official web site www.rallybarbados.net, have now passed 40, with more than two-thirds of those posted from overseas. Entries will remain open until early May 2017, roughly a month before Sol RB17 (Friday to Sunday, June 2-4); scrutineering and Flow King of the Hill will run the previous weekend, May 27 and 28.
Seal, who lives not far from Reading in Berkshire, which has a significant ex-pat Bajan community, struck up a friendship with Swann through a shared interest in quad-bike racing, in which both their sons compete. Of his trip to Sol Rally Barbados last year, Seal said: “We were fortunate enough to be invited by Rob Swann and his family in 2015. At the time, I was looking for an Escort and knew immediately that Rally Barbados was the place to go and compete. What a truly amazing, friendly place.”
Spurred on by his trans-Atlantic trip, Seal intensified his search for an Escort, acquiring a 2-litre MkI Escort last October from one of United Kingdom’s motor sport’s longest-standing competitors, Derek Webb, who had campaigned it in Belgium with considerable success for some years. Within two weeks, Seal was making his competition debut, with Ralph Higson as Co-driver.
“We were fortunate enough to compete in the last Tempest Rally, based near Aldershot, having only owned the car for a couple of weeks – we came a creditable 11th in class and 25th overall; getting to the finish was the priority,” he said.
Swann won that event in a Ford Fiesta R5.
For Sol Rally Barbados 2017, Seal’s co-driver will be near-neighbour Bruce Yeomans, who lives just four miles away, albeit across the county border in Hampshire. In March, they finished fourth in class on the Bovington Stages, improving to third in class (16th overall, of 39 finishers) in the Get it Sideways Rally at Down Ampney a month later, while Seal and Higson picked up another top 20 finish in the Challenger Stages in late November.