SWANN, McNULTY TEAM UP FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS
Duckworth and Scott beef up British challenge for the podium
Despite a “very disappointing end” to their first outing together in Sunday’s closed-road Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton in the UK, Rob Swann and Steve McNulty have confirmed today (April 29) that they are teaming up for Sol Rally Barbados 2019, the 30th running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) premier event. They were forced to retire when a road section penalty cost them any chance of fighting for victory, which was claimed by Tom Preston and Carl Williamson, Preston’s first on a tarmac event, and just days before the Hippo Group Skoda Fabia R5 ships to the Caribbean.
With Swann’s Subaru Impreza WRC S12B already in Barbados, he was competing for the first time in a Mitsubishi Mirage R5, carrying the logos of regular backers Elegant Hotels, Blue Sky Luxury and Cygnet Plant. On a day of changing road and weather conditions, Swann said: “We started well, I was settling in to the car and the new pairing with Steve was working well. I chose the wrong tyre for the first loop but we were fifth, three seconds behind third, in a good position to fight in the afternoon. We went out on slicks for the second loop, again the wrong tyre, but got up to third by the next service.
“We were then handed a 10-minute penalty which forced us to retire the car as any chance of a good result had gone. The penalty was the result of being stopped on the road section to the second loop by a very angry officer, who was clearly having a bad day and wanted to make mine a lot worse! In his opinion I was being ‘inconsiderate’, so it was a very disappointing end to what was a great and well-organised event.”
Sol RB19 will run from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2, with The Rally Show on the previous Saturday (May 25) followed Flow King of the Hill at its new location of Stewarts Hill on Sunday, May 26; on-line entries closed last Friday (April 26).
Since his debut in RB08, Swann has claimed five top six finishes and won Group N, ninth overall in 2010, in an Impreza N14; he also won GpN in Rally Jamaica, the only driver to do the double in the same year. He has finished second three times, to Jeffrey Panton for the past two years, also in 2014, the year of Roger Skeete’s last win.
McNulty, who has been rallying for more than 30 years, is competing in Sol RB for the fifth time since his first visit with long-time driver Dick Mauger in 2014, when they won Modified 6 in a Nissan Micra, 36th overall. He has always finished the event, most recently last year, when he won Group B3 in Robin Hamilton’s iconic MG Metro 6R4. Of the weekend in Clacton, he says: “It was not the result we wanted, but we got some seat time together, which was the main thing; sitting with Rob was a great experience and gave me a chance to raise my game and push myself.”
Duckworth and Scott beef up British challenge for the podium
Also confirmed today (April 29) for Sol Rally Barbados 2019 are former Mintex National Rally Champion Roger Duckworth and Andy Scott, the 2009 Fuchs Lubricants Open Rallycross Champion and twice British Rallycross Vice-Champion; they will add strength to the British challenge for podium places, although both are short on seat time.
Duckworth missed Sol RB18, providing moral support for his daughter during important exams, his only absence since 2011, when he won his first Sol RB entry as the prize for winning Rallye Sunseeker National. With only one retirement to his name in seven visits – gearbox problems in Sol RB15 – his best result the Subaru Impreza WRC S6 came in Sol RB17, when he finished third overall. He also won the former WRC-2 class for the third time, his podium finish adding to a healthy record of five top seven finishes.
Between his trips to Barbados, Duckworth does very little rallying, so back-to-back third places on the Wales Rally GB National event in 2016, ’17 and ’18 are testament to his ability to quickly put a lack of preparation behind him. Plans to compete on the Alan Healy Memorial Rally earlier this month were thwarted by gear selection problems the night before, as Duckworth explains: “It was diagnosed as electrical, so there was no way to fix it there and then. We think we have found the problem and need to have a test before putting the ‘Old Girl’ on the boat. As I am travelling without the family, I will not be doing King of the Hill, so no warm-up for the driver, usual levels of preparation, really!” Co-driver will be Mark Broomfield, while the car’s sponsor Intrinsys has been re-branded Technia. Duckworth adds: “Technia’s motto is ‘Experience Matters’; with the age of the car and the occupants, we tie in well!”
Scott, from Dumfries in Scotland, is also short of seat time since finishing 11th overall, third in Group A in Sol RB18; he competed for the first time in Rally Martinique, then the Neil Howard Memorial Stages last November, where he was sixth until an ‘off’ on SS5 ended a strong run. In Sol RB19, the Rock Oil/Motis/Teng Tools/Rostrum Sportswear/Billfisher III Ford Fiesta R5 will run in the new FIA R5 class against Tom Preston (Skoda Fabia) and Trinidad’s David Coelho in another Fiesta.
Scott says: “I’m really looking forward to Rally Barbados. The R5 has been rebuilt, including the latest engine upgrades from M-Sport, and I could feel the benefits when we had a quick shake-down, so I’m hoping for a strong run.” Scott’s co-driver is Laura Connell, who sat with him for the first time on the shakedown, but has years of experience co-driving for husband Derek in a Vauxhall Corsa and Subaru Impreza.
Scott says: “Derek worked as a mechanic for our Albatec Racing team last year, when we won the British Rallycross Championship with Mark Higgins, which was a great result for us. He and Laura got married last year and the crew that came to Barbados all went to the wedding. He’s also worked on the R5 ready for this year’s trip.”
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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