Ford drivers make ready for Sol Rally Barbados

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(PRESS RELEASE) – Hot on the heels of last week’s promise from popular British competitor Kevin Procter to “come back stronger” for Sol Rally Barbados 2018, two more Ford-mounted returnees have echoed his thoughts.

Andrew Costin-Hurley and Nigel Worswick, returning for the 15th and eighth times respectively this year, have both signalled their intention of upping their game after technical issues in Sol RB17.

Organised by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017, Sol RB18 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 1-3, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill on May 26/27. In the three months since entries for the 29th running of the Club’s premier event opened on the official web site – www.rallybarbados.net – approaching 60 have been posted, with record interest from overseas.

Costin-Hurley will again drive his Earl’s Performance Hoses/Wootton Tyres Ford Puma Evo, in which he has won Group B five times, with regular top 30 finishes (although GpB cars are not eligible for overall awards), and looked set to add a sixth victory to his haul last year after a rally-long battle with the Mini of Holland’s Frans Verbaas. While the flying Dutchman had been closing on Costin-Hurley on Sunday afternoon, it was a huge effort on the final Bushy Park stage – the little Mini was a remarkable 10th quickest of the 66 cars that ran – that gave him the class win by just seven-tenths of a second.

What Costin-Hurley did not discover until his self-designed and built Puma was repatriated was what he describes as “a major structural failure of a rear suspension attachment point – we were very blessed to have finished the rally.

Had the failure been apparent during the rally, I think that I would have retired on the spot to prevent further damage. The repair proved to be very, very tricky and seemed to take the whole summer but the attachment (on both sides) is now considerably more sturdy.”

Ex-Formula 1 engineer Costin-Hurley has noted before that the island’s stages present a really testing environment for suspension: “This failure possibly reflects how hard on cars some of the surfaces of Rally Barbados can be; my Puma has now completed 14 events in the island, so it’s had it’s fair share of being rattled and shaken about.”

Costin-Hurley is hoping once again to have his close friend Shaun Mellett in the co-driver’s seat, but he is currently on the road to recovery from major surgery; their best result together was 26th overall, third in Group B, in Sol RB12.

Their partnership dates back to the early 1990s, in Costin-Hurley’s first Ford Sierra Cosworth, in which their best result was seventh overall, before the car was written off in a multiple roll in what the driver describes as “an insanely fast rally on Salisbury Plain – it was 140mph on some of the straights.”

Worswick’s UK rallying achievements also 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 x 4, having finished in the top seven on the last five of 26 special stages.

Having rebuilt the engine and turbo of his Ford Escort WRC after a valve in the anti-lag system failed late on Saturday in Sol RB16 when running 13th, Worswick had high hopes last year of improving on his best result of 15th overall (Sol RB14, Ford Escort MkII) . . . and he did so, 11th and third in WRC-2. But it was not the smooth run he’d been looking for, after so much work ahead of the event, which had also included reconditioning the diffs, driveshafts and brakes, along with converting the gearbox to sequential.

Worswick told rallybarbados.net: “We checked the engine when we got home and confirmed that we never had anti-lag or EGR when we were over there. It was stalling on nearly every start line, costing probably five seconds a time, so we are hoping to be a lot stronger this year. When re-mapped to use 109, we found another 16bhp, so with also having the new sequential gearbox more sorted this year, after it started to give us problems after lunch on Sunday, fingers crossed for a great Sol RB18.”

His co-driver for Sol RB18 is not confirmed, while the Rallytech Composites/Worswick Engineering/Ullyetts Machine Shop Service/Rockwell Automation Escort is the first car to be listed in the WRC-2 class for cars built before the end of 2003, where he can expect the opposition to include the island’s Toyota dealer Roger Hill in his Corolla WRC.

Barbados connections ready to kick off new season

As the UK rallying season is about to kick off, Barbados start making preparations for their trans-Atlantic journey. With no significant events this weekend, as the focus is on Autosport International at the National Exhibition Centre (January 11-14), serious competition starts next weekend: on Saturday, January 20, the entry list for the Brands Hatch Winter Stages includes Dylan Thomas, co-driver on Sol RB17 for Brandon Smith, but driving his own Peugeot 106; on Sunday (Jan 21), the popular Jack Frost Stages at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire promises an intriguing head-to-head between Sol RB front-runners Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC07) and Kevin Procter (Ford Fiesta).

Sol Rally Barbados and Flow King of the Hill are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2017; Sol RB18 marks the 11th year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company, and the third by communications provider Flow.

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