The Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation is returning to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International for the fourth time in five years . . . and that is roughly the time it has taken the student body to rebuild from a bare shell its ‘new’ race and rally car, a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV.

Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) represents a return to international rallying for the first time in a decade for the Italian sports saloon, which was spotted in 2006 as an abandoned shell, awaiting the scrap man. OUMF founder Ding Boston recalls: “It looked exactly like the kind of lost cause that would provide huge amounts of practical experience for the students!”

The car, which spent the first 30 or so years of its life in the dry, high veldt in South Africa, was converted for endurance rallying for Guernsey couple Geoff and Jennie Dorey. After a couple of shakedown events, including the 1999 Classic Marathon, they embarked on the famous Inca Trail round South America in 2001. Despite a major incident on the very first stage and a later 80mph collision with a llama, they completed the 15,000-mile epic in 55 days.

On their return, the Doreys decided that the Alfa was too tired to continue, so stripped everything they could use to have a similar Alfa rally car built from scratch, leaving the shell . . . and that is what the OUMF discovered five years later.

Boston continues: “The first move was to have the shell assessed on an Alfa chassis jig. Not only was the car straight, but it was comparatively rust free, so would make an excellent basis for a project. Every bit of paint, Peruvian filler and underseal was stripped, along with any remaining components. Each stress crack was traced, drilled, and welded, with additional strengthening added where appropriate. An appeal for missing parts and running gear was launched, and advice and help from the best companies throughout the UK motor sport industry was sought in the renovation of parts found or kindly donated.”

OUMF is an independent, student-run initiative providing the encouragement and facility for ‘hands-on’ engineering experience. Of the Alfa project, Boston concludes: “Every aspect of the car provided a hands-on learning experience second to none, whether in the OUMF shed or at firms who generously welcomed the students to bring components to their workshops to teach and demonstrate their skills.”

Completed part-way through last year, the Alfa made its debut at the 2011 Goodwood Revival Meeting, and was subsequently raced at Snetterton in the east of England in October, where Boston finished fourth in class, and 10th overall! Over the winter – with Sol RB12 in mind – the car has undergone more modifications.

Sponsored by Phillips Tyres of Oxford/Geest Line/Huzier/NGK/Virgin Atlantic/Toyo Tires and Centor, the Alfa will be driven in Historic 1 by Boston, co-driven by Jon Pulliston, who sat with Boston twice in the OUMF’s 1965 Riley 1.5. After failing to complete all stages on its first two visits, the Riley finally achieved an overall finish in RB10, 46th and second of the four historics that started the event.

Category podium for Siddall sets up Caribbean trip

Andrew Siddall and Carl Williamson finished third overall in Category 2 in Saturday’s (April 28) Pirelli Historic Rally, round three of the Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship, fought out over nearly 50 miles of stages in the notorious Kielder forest. Fifth on the opening stage, they picked up their pace, finishing third, then second on the final two stages of the day, to finish 10th overall and third in C2.

A podium finish in the Siddall and Hilton Ford Escort RS2000 in their last outing before the car is delivered to Portsmouth for shipping to Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) sets them up well for their second visit to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International; last year, they finished 21st overall and won Historic 2.

From the ‘Pirelli’, based near the tyre manufacturer’s UK headquarters in Carlisle, the Escort must make the almost 400-mile trip south by early afternoon Thursday (May 3) to join nearly 30 other vehicles from the UK and Europe, which will be sailing to Barbados on the Geest freighter Benguela Stream early next week.

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

The Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV being raced at Snetterton in the UK by Ding Boston. Photo: Jeff Bloxham

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