Three more overseas crews confirmed today for Sol Rally Barbados 2018 emphasise one of the core values of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), the importance of family to the sustainable future of motorsport.
A key pillar of the island’s sports-tourism product, Sol Rally Barbados continues year-on-year to deliver visitors who combine the event with a family holiday. Sol Rally Barbados 2018 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 1-3, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill the previous weekend, May 26 and 27.
Rallying couples Marcel Freling and Karen Robinson and Howard and Ruth Paterson, plus father and daughter Simon Nutter and Sonia Dent are the latest of 11 overseas family partnerships to post their entries. They join the likes of England’s Cheryl and Barry Spencer, who will mark the 10th anniversary of their beachfront wedding in Barbados, while Trinidad & Tobago’s Ryan and Scott Pinheiro and United States crew George and Anthony Sherman fall into the father and son category.
Nutter and Paterson are both former FIA Middle East F2 Rally Champions and share extensive experience of overseas competition, notably in the 10-day Caminos del Incas in Peru in 2007 in a pair of identical Skoda Fabias. Paterson and wife Ruth finished 23rd overall, the first British crew to complete the event since Tony Fall won in 1969 in a Ford Escort – Ruth also the first female to finish in event’s 41-year history – while Nutter and co-driver Sean Kukula were thwarted by engine problems.
Paterson was the first British driver to compete on what has grown into Sol Rally Barbados 2010 – he finished ninth in a Volkswagen Golf GTI in 1991 – and has contested more than 100 International rallies in a career spanning more than 30 years. His CV includes iconic events such as the London to Mexico, London to Sydney and the Safari, and he has won championship titles as both co-driver (1985 British GpB 1600) and driver (1999 Middle East F2, 2006 FIA Dubai RallySprint), experience which has made him a sought-after driver coach, particularly in the Middle East.
When he returned for Sol Rally Barbados 2010, mechanical issues resulted in retirement on day one. In Sol Rally Barbados 2016, which marked Nutter’s first visit, things improved, 44th overall, second in Modified, behind Freling’s MG ZR. Entered in the same class, Nutter was a Saturday DNF, back to finish 10th in the Sunday Cup, with son Robert then the co-driver.
While the Patersons are back with their Little Bristol Beach Bar-supported Skoda, untested as the British weather cancelled a number of events earlier this year, Nutter has switched cars: “I decided that I wanted to go back to my roots in rallying and buy something ‘old skool’ and rear wheel drive, so I bought a 1985 1600cc twin-cam Toyota Corolla. It is great fun to drive, although I’ve hardly tested it, so I’m looking forward to having a go.” Daughter Sonia Dent will co-drive the Corolla, backed by Competition Supplies, Little Bristol Beach Bar, Discovery Bay, Cobra Seats, KK Accountancy Services, Beckside Plumbing and Scotty’s Cheap Car Hire.
Although he has not been a team-mate in the past, Freling is well-known to Paterson, as a regular visitor to his rally school for testing in years gone by. Despite being more used to forest stages, Freling and Robinson’s first Caribbean trip, to compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2016, resulted in that Modified class win, ahead of Paterson.
Freling’s competition history dates back to 1992, initially in a Suzuki Swift Gti, before taking a break and returning in 2002 in the BTRDA 1400 Championship with a Nissan Micra. Over the next six years, with Robinson as co-driver, the couple won Class A5 three times and finished second twice, with Robinson the overall lady co-driver champion four times. After an unsuccessful season in a works Ginetta G20 development programme in 2008, Freling bought the MG ZR he campaigned last time in Barbados, in which he won MG ZR Challenge. His new MG ZR will have more power, but the engine swap to a Honda Civic VTec unit places them in the hotly-competitive SuperModified 2 class.
In parallel to acquiring the new car, followed by a rebuild and testing, the couple have also been renovating a new house, into which they will have moved before arriving in Barbados. It is their first rally since Sol RB16, as they have been doing even-support for the last two years in the British Rally Championship and occasional WRC rounds.