Kenyans Rommy Bamrah and Harvey Jutley are shortly to make the 17,000-mile round trip from hometown Nairobi to Sol Rally Barbados 2012 (June 9/10) for their first-ever tarmac rally together, and the driver’s first event outside Kenya. They will miss two local events, but were not going to turn down the chance to replace Harvey’s UK-based brother Raj, whose work commitments mean he now can’t take up his entry.

To compete in the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, they will spend more than 35 hours in the air – Nairobi to London, then London to Barbados are each something over 4,200 miles – but they are undaunted by the prospect, particularly as British Airways has come on board as a team sponsor, covering all their flights.

They are entered in a MkI Ford Escort, prepared by Jordan Rally Prep and also sponsored by R S Jutley Medicals in the UK, along with East African earthmoving equipment dealer Rockplant Hitachi; following recent modifications, it will take the local Scrutineering session on Saturday, June 2, to clarify in which class they will run.

Harvey said: “I appreciate Raj giving us this opportunity to do Sol Rally Barbados in his Escort. Barbados will be an interesting challenge for Rommy and I, and we look forward to seeing our performance on tarmac. We have done a very short special stage on tarmac in Nairobi during one of the past Safaris, but driving a car set up for gravel on tarmac is very different from what we shall experience in Barbados.”

Having first rallied a Datsun 1200 pickup in 1989, Bamrah is a multiple winner of Kenya’s famous Quattro Charge, a challenging off-road competition – a mix of wet and dry river beds, swamps, large deep dams, sheer climbs and oversized boulders – which has raised millions towards protecting the Aberdare Forest and its wildlife.

In recent years, he has concentrated on classic rallying in a Datsun 260Z on the rough, loose-surface roads of Africa. Since 2007, Bamrah and Jutley have had three classic podium finishes in mixed events, also claimed overall finishes in the East African Classic Safari Rally in 2007 (23rd) and last year (38th). While Sol RB12 will be Bamrah’s first event outside Kenya, Jutley has twice ventured beyond its borders, once as co-driver to brother Raj in the Dubai International Rally and once as driver in the Qatar International, both events part of the Middle East Rally Championship.

To contest Sol RB12, the crew are missing two events in Kenya. Over Shell V-Power King of the Hill weekend is the Rhino Charge, an even more outrageous version of the Quattro Charge, while the following weekend is the KCB Safari Rally.

British regulars help load precious cargo at Portsmouth

A record shipment of rally cars and equipment set sail from Portsmouth on the British south coast yesterday (May 8) heading for Sol Rally Barbados 2012; the precious cargo of 30 vehicles aboard the Geest Line freighter Benguela Stream is the most valuable ever shipped for the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International.

On Monday, a Bank Holiday in the UK, a stalwart band of regular British competitors assisted port handlers with loading the cars, a task not completed until well into the evening. The crew included Andrew Costin-Hurley and wife Melissa, John Hardman and co-driver Sean Buckley, Martin Stockdale, assisted by long-time crew members Christine and Julian Lockwood, and Simon Wallis, some of whom faced homeward journeys of more than 200 miles once the job was done.

Stuart Deeley e-mailed to report: “It was a pretty thankless task, I have to say, with rain on and off all day. The boat was loaded by 8.45pm UK time, with every care taken to ensure cars were manoeuvred as safely as possible.”

Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Barry Gale said: “I must offer a massive vote of thanks to all those of our regulars, who have year after year made it their business to ensure the safe handling of our competition cars at Portsmouth. From what I have heard, Monday was a pretty miserable day all round, as the UK is suffering some unseasonal cold and damp weather. We’ll make sure they get a warm welcome when they get here – the only thing that’s cold will be the Banks Beer!”

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 image of the Geest Line freighter Benguela Stream is courtesy of Stuart Deeley

The image of Kenny Hall’s Ford Puma in the hold and that of our helpers is courtesy of Christine Lockwood (who bravely climbed down three levels into the hold to get on-board pictures)

Sol Rally Barbados regulars preparing to help dock workers load this year’s shipment of International competition cars for Sol Rally Barbados: front row, from left, Martin Stockdale, Andrew Costin-Hurley, Julian Lockwood and Simon Wallis

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