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Two British rally crews will cross the Atlantic this month to be reunited with cars they had spent many hours rebuilding in readiness for Sol Rally Barbados 2020. Despite the additional challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, returnees Simon Nutter and Chris Surman pressed on regardless to complete the work they had started early in the year to ensure they could make the trip.

Former FIA Middle East F2 Rally Champion Nutter and co-driver wife Fiona will run their Competition Supplies/Westgate Tyres & Exhaust/Scotty’s Cheap Car Hire/Coconut Court Beach Hotel/Udale’s Quality Meats Toyota Corolla in Historic 1, while Surman and his partner Zowie Boiston will compete in their Group N Warmstyle Motorsport/Top Performance Services/Ignition Motor Sport/Syvecs Subaru Impreza.

Following its postponement as a result of the pandemic, the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event will now run over the weekend of October 31/November 1, with the Prizegiving on Sunday evening at the Vaucluse Raceway, where the 19th and final stage will end. The previous Saturday, Bushy Park will host Scrutineering, while Flow King of the Hill on the Sunday will return to Stewarts Hill.

Nutter’s last visit was two years ago, when he finished 44th overall and fourth in Modified 1 in Sol RB18 in the Corolla with daughter Sonia Dent co-driving, then returned for the Winter Rally with Fiona, finishing fourth in Historic 2, but with a sick engine. He says: “What was meant to be a freshen up became a new engine from Paul Reid Motorsport, which I thought would be easy. I was wrong, as the new one is dry-sumped and on different throttles, so we had to change several things, including a complete re-wire and a rear oil tank! While we were at it, we freshened up the front suspension and exhaust system. We only managed to get it tuned a little over a week before shipping, then got the MoT so it was road legal, although I had to be extremely careful on the very wet roads, as the fresh engine does get the heartbeat climbing.”

Surman and his partner Zowie Boiston finished 45th overall in their Modified 4 Subaru Impreza on their Barbados rallying debut last year. Postponed from three years earlier, when pressure of work prevented them joining other members of Farnborough District Motor Club in a trip to pay tribute to Club stalwart Maurice May, they enjoyed it so much, that they were among the first overseas entries for Sol RB20. Their original idea to bring two cars to the event and drive one each was abandoned, however, but Surman has still carried out a major rebuild of the Impreza he bought six years ago as clubman Group N car: “Over the years, we’d developed it with bigger brakes, adjustable suspension and bigger restrictor for the B13 class in the UK. The plan was to put it back to Group N for Zowie to drive with a female co-driver, but we couldn’t find anyone this year. With everything else going with the pandemic, we decided to ship the car out anyway and see what happens, so I’ll be driving again – if I’m honest, I’m a very bad passenger; even in a normal car or work van, I have to drive or I get sick.”

American brothers head for Sol RB debut

Following this week’s confirmation that the American father and son team of George and Anthony Sherman will be contesting Sol Rally Barbados 2020, a second family from the United States is added to the entry list today (October 9): brothers Scott and Mark Knott will compete for the first time, joining the Clubman 2 class in a BimmaCup car supported by Meanwhile, news of another first-time entry from Barbados-based Briton Harold Morley’s son Nick in the Globank/Spectrum X BimmaCup adds another family to the overseas entry, albeit in different cars.

International tax lawyer Scott, who lives in Miami Beach, has been competing for almost 20 years, initially in SCCA Time Trial events in the Washington DC area, before travelling all over the US. With circuit experience in a supercharged Lotus Elise, BMW saloons and classic events in a Penske NASCAR, he started to rally the Lotus, introducing brother Mark to motor sport, as Scott explains: “Despite having never raced before, he has done an amazing job. He is the Chief of Police in Rhode Island, so he handles the stress and speed of rallying with ease and we have great fun at it together.”

With three trips to Targa Newfoundland under their belts, Sol RB20 is the first competition outside North America for the Knotts. They had hoped to compete alongside friend and team-mate in rallying and endurance racing, Stan Hartling of the Turks & Caicos Rally Team, who had told them about the event: “We wish he could have made it this year, but hopefully that will happen in the future. Mostly we race BMWs – including two seven-hour races in a BMW 540 last month – so I’m confident the car we have in Barbados will suit us. Now I just have to learn to drive on the right-hand side of a car!”

Having first raced at age 12 in karts, Morley graduated to saloons and hot hatches such as Ford Fiesta XR2s and BMWs, before moving on to sports cars and GT racing, where he has enjoyed some success racing marques including Caterham, Ferrari and Radical. With only one rally on his cv however, in 2012 in the UK, Morley will have experienced local co-driver Stephen Bell to guide him. Bell has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with British visitor Ray Clough in his Ford Escort MkI, with three overall finishes to their credit, 27th the highest result when they won Historic 2 in Sol RB16.

Morley’s father Harold, the 1972 Motoring News Road Rally Champion in the UK, has been a fixture of motor sport in Barbados since 2001, also competing in Jamaica and Trinidad. On regular family holidays in the island, Nick likes to keep active with kitesurfing and golf, also joining his father on Barbados Hash House Harrier events.

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.

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