Shipping dates confirmed for European competitors

Seven crews with Irish connections, including two new to the event, are among the 21 International entries already received for Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) through the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.bb . . . and the organising Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has thanked the media for the part it plays in spreading the word.

The latest newcomers confirmed for the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international are Raymond Conlon and Darren McCague from County Monaghan in the Irish Border Region. Their 270 horsepower 2-litre Conlon Travel Toyota Corolla, prepared by KMS Motorsport and Powertune, is entered in the BRC’s SuperModified 10 category.

Conlon started competing – in a standard production 1600cc Corolla – almost as soon as he was old enough to hold a driving license. He won the Junior Event at the Killarney Rally of the Lakes in 2005, with four out of five stage wins, and is now a regular overall top 10 finisher and class-winner in events north and south of the border.

His best finishes include third overall, with the class win, on the toddsleap.com Ulster National Rally in 2008, a result repeated on the UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland National Rally in 2010. After more than two hours of stage time, Conlon finished just 20 seconds adrift of Emma McKinstry’s Subaru Impreza WRC and 26 seconds behind winner John Waring’s Ford Escort MkII . . . a result that would have been very different but for a 30-second road penalty Conlon and McCague had incurred early in the day.

Although this will be the crew’s debut in Barbados, they are already familiar with the event, having seen the TV coverage aired in recent years in Ireland, where the monthly Pacenotes Rally Magazine is also a popular read. Last year, in conjunction with the private sector Tourism Development Corporation in Barbados and the BRC, Pacenotes ran a hugely successful competition with a prize trip for two readers to Sol RB11. Details of its 2012 promotion will be announced shortly.

Sol RB12 Chairman Barry Gale said: “There is little doubt that the major increase in media coverage we have enjoyed over the past couple of years has helped our cause enormously, especially in these difficult times . . . and Pacenotes has certainly played its part in keeping our event at the forefront of competitors’ minds.”

Among those confirmed for Sol RB12 are popular Celtic entertainers, Ballyclare’s Glenn Campbell in his Nissan Micra Kit Car and Allan Mackay from Brora in the north of Scotland, whose unique Ford Anglia WRC is prepared by Mark Greer Motorsport in Northern Ireland, where Mackay’s co-driver for the event, Mo Downey, is also based. The current Sol RB12 entry list can be found on the official web site, www.rallybarbados.bb (under the Competitor drawdown), although some names are withheld for promotional purposes.

Shipping dates confirmed for European competitors

The Barbados Rally Club (BRC) has confirmed shipping dates for Sol Rally Barbados 2012 competitors travelling from Europe – the cars will leave Portsmouth on the English south coast on the Geest Line freighter Benguela Stream on May 8 for the 11-day Atlantic crossing to the Caribbean, with the return trip scheduled for June 16, to make landfall in the UK on July 4.

Sol RB12 Chairman Barry Gale said: “It has taken us a little longer this year to confirm our arrangements with our shipping partner, the Geest Line, as we have shifted our dates back a week or so, also there are extra Bank Holidays in the UK around that time. We know it is important to our European friends to know how long their cars are going to be away, so we have been working hard to secure the best possible schedule.”

The BRC is also investigating favourable shipping rates from the United States. Gale added: “We have always been interested in promoting our event in the US, but the shipping costs have presented challenges. We have had more than one enquiry from potential competitors this year, so we’re working towards an arrangement that might make it attractive for them to come down, too.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB12 is the 23rd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the fifth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.

Web sites: www.rallybarbados.bb; www.barbadosrallyclub.com

Photo: Graham Curry Photography

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