Anglia JWRC outing gets ‘Mr Entertainment’ in the mood

Entries for the four-wheel-drive groups in Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) are flying high. Recent postings on the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.bb, are pushing numbers towards record levels . . . and there are still seven weeks to go before the closing date for the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international.

With 10 crews confirmed by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) for Modified 8-WRC, there has also been an upsurge of interest, particularly from overseas, in M8-A and Production 4 – island-speak for Group A and Group N, respectively. There are 28 4wd entries, compared with the previous highest, 25 starters in 2008 & ’09 . . . while total entries received have now passed last year’s record of 111.

Among the latest drivers confirmed are two returnees from the UK, Tom Roberts and Simon Wallis, who bring to 20 the number of International crews on the on-line entry list, which can be found under the Competitor tab on the web site’s home page.

Londoner Roberts is returning for a fifth visit, hoping to enjoy better fortune than in Sol RB09, when the sight of his M8-A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI leaving the very first stage on a wrecker, along with Roberts and co-driver Paul Rees, became one of that year’s iconic images. Roberts cites it as one of his major disasters: “It was the 17th corner, and I learned an important lesson: do not over-rule your co-driver when you think you can take a corner faster . . . ever!”

Although he had also posted a DNF on his first visit in 2002, in a rather tired Toyota Celica GT4, Roberts claimed two solid finishes in between: in 2005, he was 30th overall and second in P4 in a Subaru Impreza WRX, then 21st overall, fourth in M8-A, three years later in the Evo VI, which twice won the UK’s BTRDA Championship in the hands of its previous owner, Roger Chilman.

For Sol RB12, Roberts will have girlfriend Nicky Marriott as co-driver, a seat she has occupied since last year. Of their partnership in the car, Roberts says: “She’s the only one who seems to be able to control me!” And it certainly seems to work, as they finished third in the single-venue Brands Hatch Stage Rally in January.

Wallis is back for his eighth Rally Barbados, his second in the P4 Wallis Performance Impreza N10. His seventh different co-driver in Barbados is also female, his sister Carolyn Pearce. Wallis notes: “Carolyn’s a paramedic, and her day job includes driving a rapid response vehicle at up to 120mph around Newcastle-upon-Tyne . . . so, navigating a rally car is a relatively low-speed day out for her!”

On his previous visits – his first was in 2003 – Wallis, who runs a software consultancy in Cambridge, has had five finishes and posted two DNFs in a total of five different cars. His best results came in the early days, finishing second or third in P3 three years in a row in a trio of Vauxhall Astras.

Returning to his front-wheel-drive roots, Wallis is driving an AVS Motorsport Ford Fiesta ST in the 2012 BTRDA Gravel Rally Championship, but will miss round five – the Dukeries Rally – because of Sol RB12. After two events, the Wyedean and the Malcolm Wilson, he leads N3 in the BTRDA series and E4 in the MSA English Rally Championship.

Anglia JWRC outing gets ‘Mr Entertainment’ in the mood

Scotland’s ‘Mr Entertainment’ Allan Mackay has been preparing for his third visit to Sol Rally Barbados. With his own Ford Anglia WRC not immediately to hand, the former Scottish Tarmac Champion needed a replacement . . . not a problem in his household!

Son Euan’s car was shipped from Scotland to Ireland and prepped by Mark Greer Motorsport; carrying the registration number FUN 105E, the ‘Anglia JWRC’ has a 2-litre Vauxhall engine, sequential gearbox and, as co-driver Mo Downey reports, “it gets all the hand-me-downs off the WRC.”

They were seeded 23rd among nearly 80 starters in last Saturday’s (March 17) second round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship, the Bishopscourt Stages. Downey says: “We were out practising to keep our ‘entertainer award’. It was very slippy in morning, so we were sideways everywhere, then it dried out. We lost fifth gear on stage two, which hurt our times, plus all the laughing in the car didn’t help, but then we burst the sump over the jump on stage five, so the day ended early. We’re both looking forward to Barbados again this year – bring it on!”

Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are organised and promoted 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

Flying four-wheel-drives:
Allan Mackay pictured on the Bishopscourt Stages, Northern Ireland, last Saturday (March 17)
Tom Roberts pictured on the Tempest Rally 2011, England
Simon Wallis pictured on the Jim Clark Rally 2011, Scotland

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