(PRESS RELEASE) — Two British newcomers, whose rally cars were among more than 30 loaded on to the Geest Line freighter Baltic Klipper today (Saturday), bring the total number of overseas entries confirmed for Sol Rally Barbados 2019 to more than 40 for the fifth straight year.
George Morrison and Chris Surman will make their Caribbean debuts in just three weeks time in the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event.
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 location of Stewart’s Hill on Sunday, May 26; the provisional entry list, along with details of the schedule will be revealed at the annual Media Briefing next Wednesday (May 8).
Now based in Nottinghamshire, former British Army mechanic Morrison is visiting Sol RB for the second time, having serviced two years ago, when his sister Emma was a co-driver; Emma is back this year, sitting with Martin Stockdale. Both Morrisons started their competition careers in Army Land Rover Wolfs, George’s recently-built black MG ZR sponsored by British Army Motorsport, BAMA, Odyssey Batteries, Lifeline Safety Systems and tint and wrap company Tintinit.
Having won the BRC Challenge in 2010 in a Peugeot 205, George went on to win the Army Rally Championship outright in 2016 and ‘17 with his current co-driver Jon Quintrell, who is still an Army mechanic, based in Leicestershire. They also finished in the top three in the BTRDA 1400 Forest Championship in 2017, all in their previous MG.
Surman and his partner Zowie Boiston will campaign their Warmstyle/Top Performance Services/Ignition Motorsport Subaru Impreza in Modified 4; Surman was entered for Sol RB16, along with other members of Farnborough District Motor Club in a group trip to pay tribute to stalwart Club member Maurice May, who died before he was able to celebrate his 70th birthday by competing in Barbados. While Maurice’s son Simon and Russell Roberts did make the trip, pressure of work prevented Surman joining in.
A hailstorm at Dover today did not make loading an easy task for the hardy band of British competitors and their helpers, who loaded more than 30 cars and two service barges. This year’s crew comprised Melissa and Andrew Costin-Hurley, Stephen Gregory, Dick and Kathy Mauger, Hugh Peat, Pete and Scott Rayner, Paul Rees and his co-driver Paul Briggs, Martin Stockdale and nephew Dean, and Nigel Worswick, while Bajan Luke Cozier, currently studying in the UK, was also on hand.
Many competitors took to social media to thank the gang of volunteers for keeping an eye on their precious cargo, in response to regular smartphone video updates of progress – including footage of the hailstorm – while Sol RB Rally Office Manager Jeanne Crawford said: “To the fantastic loading team that spent hours at Dover today, through hail and cold, thank you from all of us. Knowing our regulars are there, with their knowledge of rally cars and how to move them around, is very important to the event, as we can assure our other competitors, particularly newcomers, that their pride and joy is in safe hands.”
Oldest crew pushes 4wd entry up to 25 cars
With a combined age of 148 – the oldest crew competing in Sol RB19 – UK veterans Dick Mauger and Liz Jordan have helped carry the four-wheel-drive field to 25, a quarter of the provisional entry, thanks to Mauger’s recent purchase of an ex-Barry Groundwater Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Mauger has been an overall finisher in all five visits to Barbados since his Sol RB14 debut, when he won Modified 6 in a Nissan Micra, finishing 33rd, an overall result he and Liz equalled last year in a SuperModified 2 MkII Escort.
Jordan’s successes date back to 1990s victories and podium finishes in Historic events in the UK and mainland Europe with Geoff Crabtree and Dessie Nutt in Porsche 911s, while this year she has claimed two regional championship victories in a MkII Escort with Tim Mewett.
She says: “Neither Dick nor I can believe we are as old as we are, so our enthusiasm for competing is still there! We are determined to better last year’s finishing position!”
Mauger, who still rises before dawn each day to work his farming business, adds: “Because I am using both of my Group 4 Escorts at home, I’ve bought an Evo IX to run in Modified 4; it will be a better class for me, and these cars are easier to drive!”
Ireland’s Joe McQuillan, another from the farming community, is also back, having missed Sol RB18, now with a Masserene Park Farms/McQ Solar & Renewables-backed Subaru Impreza, which will also run in M4.
Although he has not yet confirmed a co-driver, McQuillan will be looking to add a third overall finish to the two he has achieved in his previous five visits; he enjoyed a memorable Group A battle in Sol RB15 with fellow Evo driver Rupert Lomax, the Welshman beating McQuillan by just 14 seconds, as the pair finished 11th and 12th overall.
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.