Scotland will be represented by seven crews in Sol Rally Barbados 2017, following Tuesday’s announcement of three further entries, which bring the number of overseas cars confirmed for the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event to 35 and the entry in the four-wheel-drive classes to 22.
Each of the three already has an overall finish on Sol Rally Barbados under his belt, Brian ‘The Sheriff’ Watson preparing for his third trip to the island, with a third different car . . . and one which he would not have driven before he arrives in Barbados. Teamed up with his regular ‘deputy’, co-driver Caroline Will, he is shipping a brand new Mitsubishi WRC Replica, just completed by Wayne Sisson’s AMS Motorsport in Lancashire. Will told rallybarbados.net on Easter Monday that a lot of effort had gone in to getting it ready.
“And Brian hasn’t even had a chance to drive it, as it’s being loaded today to head to the boat. So, the very first competitive outing will be King Of the Hill,” he said.
On their previous trips (2014 and 2015), they failed to finish in the Group B Audi quattro S1, which suffered any number of mechanical issues, while they finished 36th overall and third in SuperModified 11 in a Ford Escort MkII on their second visit. Watson’s first rally car in 2005 was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo II, while co-driver Will has been competing since age 14, when she first drove a Vauxhall Nova in an autotest. She became junior, ladies and club champion at Stonehaven & District Motor Club (SDMC) and shared the ‘Best Entertainer’ award on the Isle of Mull Rally in 2013 with Watson.
On his second visit, Barry Groundwater will have Caroline’s sister Ashleigh as co-driver in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. The former class and group N title-winner and regular year-end top five finisher in the Scottish Rally Championship (SRC), ‘Handsome Baz’ started competing in 1997 in a Mazda 323. He finished third on Wales Rally GB National in 2014, co-driven by Neil Shanks, who has also competed in Barbados, and finished 22nd overall, fourth in Group A, on his Barbados debut in 2015.
When former SRC class-winner (2006, Ford Puma 1600) Fraser Louden and daughter Abi made their tarmac debut on Sol Rally Barbados 2015, they finished 25th overall and seventh in class. Louden started rallying in 1996 in a Toyota Corolla and admitted that his rally cars, which have also included a Subaru Impreza, have spent quite a lot of time lodged in trees.
Already confirmed are regular visitors from Scotland Kenny Hall, with Dutch co-driver Fenny Wesselink (Ford Puma), and Allan Mackay (Ford Anglia WRC), with local co-driver Andrew Croney, plus two crews on the first-time visitors list, Robin and Vanessa Hamilton (Talbot Sunbeam) and James Thomson and Shaun Douglas (Vauxhall Nova). In addition, Scottish co-driver Sean Donnelly will sit with Ireland’s Joe McQuillan once again in his Evo IX. Watson’s car, along with those of Groundwater, Louden and Mackay are heading south to Portsmouth on one transporter to meet the Friday (April 21) lunchtime deadline for arrival.
Sol Rally Barbados 2017 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 2-4, and Flow King of the Hill, on which the seeding for the main event is based, the previous Sunday (May 28). More than 90 entries have been posted since October 1 on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.net, with the entry closing on Friday, April 28.