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Britain’s Kevin Procter, a fan favourite for his flamboyant driving style, is aiming for the podium in Sol Rally Barbados 2019, the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. His 10 top 10 finishes in 13 visits include three fourth places – he was just 1.2 seconds off the podium in Sol RB17 – but third has always eluded him. Fellow-Brit Graham Coffey, who Procter encouraged to compete in Barbados two years ago, will be among those out to stop him, now driving an identical turbocharged Ford Fiesta.

Sol RB19 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show on the previous Saturday (May 25) followed by Flow King of the Hill at its new Stewarts Hill location on the Sunday; in three decades, it has evolved from small beginnings as the All-Stage Rally of 1990 into the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International and a key National Event on the island’s sports-tourism calendar.

Procter and Coffey confirmed their participation after competing on Saturday’s (March 23) Legend Fires North West Stages, the north of England’s first closed road rally; all was not well, however, Procter and Dave Bellerby stuck on a wet grass bank on the fifth stage in the Procters Coaches/Swift Signs & Shirts Fiesta, while Coffey finished 17th, with co-driver Tom Woodburn.

Coffey said: “The North West Stages did not go to plan. It was only the second time in the car, but that should not have been an issue, so to walk away without incident in 17th place was OK, but not exactly where I had hoped to finish.” Just two weeks before, on his debut in the former Fiesta S2000 in which the UAE’s Khalid Al-Kassimi won the 2010 Kuwait International Rally on its second outing, Coffey had been running fifth in the Rallye du Hannut in Belgium before he aquaplaned off into a field and got stuck in the mud; he was not alone, nearly half of the 130-plus entry listed as non-finishers.

Coffey finished eighth in Sol RB17 and 12th last year in his former Subaru Impreza WRC S12B with Patrick Walsh as co-driver, the pair having also enjoyed good results in Europe together, notably finishing third in a field of around 150 in Rally National Le Bethunois, a round of the France Cup, in 2016. As Walsh is now replacing Andrew Roughead in the Procter Fiesta in Barbados, however, Coffey’s new partner is Jack Morton, a four-time Champion Co-driver in the UK, returning to the event he calls “the best rally in the world” having finished third with Paul Bird last year.

Earlier this month, he added to his tally of overall wins at the Lee Holland Stages in Anglesey, sitting in the same Ford Focus WRC08, alongside Birdy’s son Frank Jnr, in only his second rally. Morton says: “The competition was really tough; the ‘off’ on stage one made it hard, dropping at least 45 seconds, so coming back to win by over a minute was great. No-one has ever done that against Chris West, the specialist on these events.”

As a final shakedown before Barbados, Procter and Coffey both plan to do the Warcop Stages in Cumbria on Easter Sunday, which will be Coffey and Morton’s first rally together. Morton also praised the BRC for introducing the RallySafe event management system, which he used in Germany, when he finished third with Ireland’s Calvin Beattie in the 2017 ADAC Opel Rallye Cup: “I thought it was a brilliant piece of kit. Not only does it make the event safer to run for the organisers, but it makes it safer for the competitors, too. Introducing this product will be a major success for the Rally Club.”

Motorsport UK Academy Co-driver returns to Barbados

Gareth Parry, one of the youngest – “and one of the lightest”, he states proudly – of the current intake of Motorsport UK Academy co-drivers, returns to the scene of his biggest birthday surprise when he competes in Sol Rally Barbados 2019 in Stuart Deeley’s Sandstone Brewery Toyota Celica GT4. He thought he was just a spectator in 2016 until his 18th birthday on May 28, when parents Will and Sue and elder brother Daniel staged a ‘reveal’ of Will’s Ford Escort MkII, which Gareth thought could not make the trip.

Father and son finished 37th overall in the Tsalta Motorsport-run Escort, after which Gareth competed in single-venue events through 2016 & ‘17, also service and testing with Spencer Sport in the British Rally Championship. He then teamed up with Scott Faulkner in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, placing fourth overall in the 2018 Welsh Championship and GpN Champions, with Gareth the U-23 Junior Co-driver Champion.

Parry says: “The Motorsport UK Co-driver Academy offered me a place along with six others, me being one of the youngest at age 20, and one of the lightest, too!” He and Faulkner are currently second in the BTRDA Championship, lead GpN and the Production Cup, after finishing fifth overall and class-winners on the recent Malcolm Wilson Rally. He adds: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to compete on Sol Rally Barbados with Stuart. I am looking forward to putting what I have learned in the Academy to good use, particularly in terms of pre-event preparations as I did not have the chance in 2016!”

This will be micro-brewer Deeley’s fourth visit to compete in Barbados, driving the same Celica he drove to second in Group B2 in Sol RB14; now rebuilt by recognised UK Celica expert Warner Lewis, it is in the Castrol and Marlboro colours of Belgium’s Freddie Loix when he finished second in the 1997WRC Rally of Portugal. With three Association of North West Car Clubs (ANWCC) titles under his belt, in 2000, 2002 (Ford Escort MkII) and 2011 (Lotus 62S), Deeley first visited Rally Barbados in 2007, travelling to help John Hardman out. In Sol RB12, he finished 35th overall, winning Modified 5 in one of Hardman’s Nissan Micras, then crashed out in the Lotus the following year.

Gareth’s trip to Barbados coincides with father Will’s first return visit since the birthday surprise at the wheel of the same MkII, which is undergoing a major rebuild, full of changes – the livery from green to black (just last weekend), suspension from Bilstein to Proflex, the engine from Cosworth to Millington Diamond Series 2 Plus, and some bigger brakes to stop it. With Gareth now in the Celica, Aled Lloyd Jones, who sat with Gareth Richards in Sol RB16, is the co-driver.

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB19 marks the 12th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fourth by communications provider Flow.

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