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Britain’s Nigel Worswick will celebrate his 10th consecutive visit to participate in Sol Rally Barbados this year with a fun-filled head-to-head battle with old friend Philip Burton, who is competing in the island for the first time, after visiting as service crew in the past. Having driven his Ford Escort WRC to an island best of eighth overall and second in Modified 4 in Sol RB19, Worswick will return with the MkII Escort in which he first contested the event in 2011, with Burton at the wheel of a near-identical car.

Although they have known each other for years, they have only once competed against one another in similar cars, in the 2017 Greystoke Stages, when Burton beat Worswick to the class win after a close fight in which they even clocked identical times on one stage. Harking back to a 1989 TV commercial for the chocolate bar Milky Way, it was dubbed ‘The Red Car and the Blue Car had a race’; and now, after Round 1 on the loose three years ago, Round 2 will be fought out on Caribbean tarmac. The 31st running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event is scheduled for Friday to Sunday, May 29 to 31, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill the previous weekend.

Burton explains: “Nigel and I have known each other for many years but never really competed against each other in similar cars, so when I was asked to do the Greystoke in 2017 and Nigel was also entered we just latched onto the Milky Way advert and used it a as promo. We took Milky Ways to give away, had number plates made up for the cars and had a lot of fun. And it’s just stuck. When I finally decided it was time to do Sol Rally Barbados, Nigel was straight on Red Car Blue Car round two.”

Both Escorts are entered in SuperModified 2, Burton’s sponsored by Westgate Tyres, BDS Fuels & Bio Mass, 1 Media TV, Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery, SBG Construction and J Wright & Sons. Since first rallying in 1988, he has won a number of class and overall championship titles, most significantly the West Wales Rally Spares RAC Historic title in 2015, his first season back in action after taking two years out of rallying to concentrate on business commitments and make some upgrades to the car. He went on to finish second overall in both the 2017 BTRDA Silver Star and 2018 Rally 2 Championships.

Burton’s co-driver will be returnee Dylan Thomas (the Welshman has previously competed in Barbados alongside Brandon Smith), who is himself a former regional Champion and is bringing on the next generation of rallyists, having supported his daughter to become Champion Co-driver and Ladies Champion Co-driver in the 2018 Association of North-Western Car Clubs Championship.

With his usual backing from Worswick Engineering, Ullyetts Machine Shop Service and Rallytech Composites, Worswick returns with the MkII in which he and co-driver Rebecca Kirsch finished 17th overall and second in SM11 in Sol RB15 – beaten only by British Escort maestro Simon Mauger – and 15th overall, third in SM11, the previous year. With the Escort currently awaiting a bare-shell respray, Worswick is also readying his Escort WRC for an outing on the Legends Fires North West Stages in late March.

Worswick’s rallying achievements date back many years. In the 1990s, he was a regular competitor on Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship (the Network Q RAC Rally), missing out on a top 10 finish by just one second in 1996 in a Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4, having finished in the top seven on the last five of 26 special stages. He is looking forward to his 10th Rally Barbados, as reverting to the MkII means Sol RB20 will be an enjoyable event: “The whole theme of this year’s trip is some friends having a serious bit of fun. Phil and I have known one another for years – he has serviced for me in Barbados and back in the UK, and I have serviced for him, Dylan has serviced and co-driven for me, so we’re a close-knit group.”

Swann joins Panton for Cadwell Park Caribbean R5 Challenge

Fresh from their Mini Tempest Rushmoor Stages victory in a Ford Fiesta WRC in December, Britain’s Rob Swann and Steve McNulty are among the latest entries for the Alan Healy Memorial Cadwell Park Stages in the UK on February 2. They will campaign a Fiesta R5, setting up an ad hoc ‘Caribbean Challenge’ with Jamaica’s Jeff Panton and Michael Fennell Jnr, whose entry was confirmed last week.

And the picturesque race circuit in Eastern England may even play host to a yet more unlikely Sol Rally Barbados re-run, as former Cadwell Park winner Roger Duckworth has also placed an entry in the last few days in his Subaru Impreza WRC S6. Panton has five victories in the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event on his cv, Swann has finished second three times – most recently beaten by Panton in 2017 & ’18 – while Duckworth and Roger Broomfield finished second in Sol RB19.

Swann said: “Jeff and I keep in touch all the time and I suggested the Cadwell event to him, as it is ideal for him to shake down the R5. I was going to go up and help out, then it seemed a far better idea to take a car, so I thought I’d have a try in the R5, still thinking about where I’m going to go next. It should be great fun.”

Duckworth has competed at Cadwell when it ran in April, as a final shakedown before shipping to Barbados, but is not 100 per cent sure he’ll make this year: “I only realised the event was so much earlier this year a couple of nights ago and was surprised to find the entry not full. So, I’m not even clear that my car will be ready, because we are still waiting for bits to repair the damage done on the Wales Rally GB National.

“The thought of going head-to-head against Jeffrey and Rob is a little bit worrying, because I’ve managed to have a reasonably big accident there even when I was only testing, without the pressure of being up against known competition! But I’d certainly like to try, if the car is ready.”

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB20 marks the 13th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the fifth by communications provider Flow.

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