(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Following a successful shakedown on home ground last weekend, Scotland’s Robin Hamilton announced today (March 30) that he will contest Sol Rally Barbados 2018 in his Gleaner Fuels MG Metro 6R4, the first appearance in the island’s premier event of one of the iconic 1980s Group B cars for nearly 20 years.
Confirmation that Ireland’s Peter Gallagher will also return with a recently-acquired Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI brings the overseas entry to 25.
Sol RB18 will run from Friday to Sunday, June 1-3, with The Rally Show and Flow King of the Hill (KotH) the previous weekend, May 26/27. As the entry closing date of April 27 fast approaches, crews on both sides of the Atlantic are finalising their plans. Including island competitors, a total of 60 are so far listed in the on-line entry on the official web site, rallybarbados.net, including 17 four-wheel-drive cars.
Hamilton and his wife Vanessa made their Caribbean debut last year, with a 10th wedding anniversary visit in their historic Talbot Sunbeam Ti, in which they finished 48th overall; between them, the couple have won a good number of event and year-end titles, Robin twice the Scottish Tarmac Champion (STC), while Vanessa has been top female co-driver three times in the STC. Robin said: “I really enjoyed competing in Barbados last year, when I was approached by several people asking if I would bring the Metro. It is thanks to support from Gleaner Fuels and RHA Ltd that I can.”
While Vanessa will co-drive on Flow KotH, Barbados regular Steve McNulty will sit in for Sol RB18. It will be their second event together, after last Saturday’s (March 24) DCC Stages at Ingliston, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, half an hour from the Hamilton’s Gorebridge home. Despite a broken driveshaft and some minor brake issues, Hamilton was happy that ‘Auld Rumbly’, as the 6R4 is known, would be fit for the trip to Barbados following its recent engine and transmission rebuild.
He has owned the car since 1999: “Having thought long and hard about owning and running a 6R4, I took the plunge, and there was a good omen, the registration number: C511 RRC – Robin’s Rally Car!” Since then, Hamilton has won several single venue events and been well placed in the majority he has entered. Originally owned by New Zealander Tony Teesdale – Hamilton has the original bill of sale from the factory – it was a full-spec 3-litre Group B car when campaigned in 1986. By the time Hamilton bought the car, a 2.8-litre engine had been installed to comply with UK rules.
The last time a 6R4 competed in the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event was in 2001, when Ireland’s Denis Biggerstaff finished 10th in one of the very early examples; in fact, there were three, Andy Elliott from the UK and Turkey’s Ali Serpen also entered. In November 2006, Ulsterman Lawrence Gibson became the first lap record holder on the new Vaucluse Raceway Rallycross track in his recently-rebuilt 6R4.
Gallagher has also been in action recently, to shake down the Evo VI, in which Jonny Leonard won his class in the 2017 Irish Forestry Championship; with no dry tyres to hand and a streaming wet course for the McGrady Stages at Bishopscourt in early March, he had a challenging day: “It was the first time I drove the car and we didn’t get one clear run, aquaplaning all over the place; we ended up mid-field, but it was a steep learning curve . . . and the locals know Bishopscourt like the back of their hands. We were on course once to be third in class, when an Evo IX spun right in front of us . . . we had to take to the grass to avoid contact.”
This is the 12th visit to Barbados for Gallagher, who finished class runner-up in the Irish Tarmac Championship in 2009, and he will again be accompanied by local co-driver Rene Forde.
Faulkner and Foy to miss celebration outing
John Faulkner and Peter Foy will miss their planned celebratory trip to Sol Rally Barbados 2018, following a major accident on the recent AGBO Historic Rally (March 17), after which both were admitted to nearby hospitals. Faulkner’s was the first confirmed entry for Sol RB18 after his wife Anna had made the arrangements in secret as a surprise to mark his 60th birthday and more than 35 years competing in the sport.
The AGBO was intended to be the final shakedown for the historic class Millennium Manufacturing Group Ford Escort MkII, ahead of the car being readied for shipping across the Atlantic in early May. The crew were pleased with their initial pace, but were caught out towards the end of SS3, when the Escort left the road and collided with a large oak tree.
Faulkner, who broke his right heel and left foot, managed to get out of the upturned car and raise the alarm for rescue crews to assist in extracting Foy, who was airlifted to hospital. The co-driver sustained a broken ankle and femur, which were operated on at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, and he is recuperating at home.
Faulkner’s right foot is in plaster and he’s on the mend.
Although very sore after the accident, he was full of praise for the strength of the Steve Lancaster-built car: “This was a huge, high-speed accident. Peter and I would like to thank all involved in our recovery at the scene and care at local hospitals. The rescue, medical crews, organising club and fellow competitors were all great and we have received many good wishes.”
While they will not be competing in Sol RB18, the Faulkners are still hoping to make the trip as spectators. Anna said: “It’s been a very sad turn of events but we are going to try and make the best of the situation, as we still intend to be in Barbados to watch the rally and join in as much as possible.”
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.