Among the European entries that set sail from Portsmouth on the English south coast yesterday (Tuesday) for Sol Rally Barbados 2011 (June 4/5) are three that will add a celtic flavour to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport international, which will run off shortly after the revitalised Barbados Celtic Festival - Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are again among the nations represented.
The cars being shipped on the Geest Line freighter Klipper Stream include the Nissan Micra Kit Car of Northern Ireland’s Glenn Campbell, back for a third visit, the popular Ford Anglia WRC of Scotland’s Allan Mackay and a Vauxhall Astra Mk2 built specially for the event by England-domiciled Welshman Paul Rees.
 Mackay sums up the appeal of Sol Rally Barbados from his viewpoint: “Business has been tough recently, but I close my eyes, think of Barbados, remember the reception we got, the competitiveness of the other cars, the friendliness, the way our cars had been unloaded and taken to the compound (and the fridge in the compound!) . . . we had big broad smiles for weeks after we came home!”
 The Highland Waste Services Anglia WRC – the acronym stands for Well Run Car - has had a major rebuild, with Mackay able to manage only a brief shakedown, as he lives in the far north of Scotland, 10 hours from the car’s base in Northern Ireland. His new co-driver is Stewart Davidson.
 For Paul ‘Tourist Man’ Rees, taking part again as a driver brings him full circle from his first involvement with the BRC’s premier event in 2003, when he finished fourth in Modified 5, co-driven by Canadian Sean Lucas, an island resident at the time. For the next three years, Rees – a respected rally official in the UK, and Marshal Liaison for Wales Rally GB – returned to work with the Rally Barbados organising team.
 There was another reason for his regular visits, however, as he had met island motor sport stalwart Biddy Barber’s daughter Ali at the 2003 Welcome Party; in 2004, they were engaged, then married the week after RB05 . . . with the event running a week later in 2011, their sixth wedding anniversary falls on Saturday, June 4. As Rees notes: “I’m lucky to have such an understanding wife to allow me to rally on our Anniversary . . . especially as her birthday also just a week before.”
 An all-too-brief trip as co-driver to Tom Roberts in 2009 ended just a few corners into the first stage, so Rees is looking forward to his return. He will again compete in M5, this time with a Dynamic IS/ Vauxhall Astra built from an unregistered Mk2 bodyshell by Team RallyMarshal, with help from KD Motorsport, Full On Motorsport and Alpha Motorsport. His co-driver is Kevin Hutchinson.
 Campbell also competes in M5, in which he finished second on his first trip in 2009; plans for this have been fraught with difficulties, with no co-driver confirmed by the time the Micra was delivered to Portsmouth last week.
Test session for new timing equipment this weekend
The Barbados Rally Club will hold a training session at the Bushy Park racetrack in St Philip on Saturday (April 30) to introduce competitors, marshals and officials to its new timing equipment, designed and built by British company, ECM Systems Ltd.
 The system is based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, carried by all crews; timing equipment at each special stage control – arrival, start and flying finish - constantly searches for the tags, automatically records the time at which one arrives within its radius, then sends the times to Rally Control via GPRS technology.
 Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Barry Gale notes: “There are two huge benefits: first, the possibility for human error is reduced, as the system makes the job of our marshals easier, while giving a greater degree of accuracy. Second, the work of Rally Control is speeded up, as they no longer have to wait for the sweeper to deliver time cards after, perhaps, two stages, a loop that can take 90 minutes or more.
 “We’re grateful to our marketing partner LIME for providing the GPRS sim cards that help drive the system, and to Mark Williams, the chief timing official of Targa Newfoundland, for his expertise; after observing our existing equipment and marshals in action last year, along with the constraints that our environment places on us, he recommended that we purchase ECM’s latest generation of equipment.
 “He has created operations manuals for the timing crews, suggested changes to our ASRs to address the new procedures, and will host Saturday’s training session. Once we’ve ironed out the learning curve issues, we’ll be able to generate truly ‘live’ times on our web site, a first for the region of which Sol Rally Barbados can be proud.”
Sol Rally Barbados (June 4/5, 2011) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 29) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB2011 is the 22nd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the start of a second three-year term of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.
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