Former UK National Rally Champion Roger Duckworth claimed his second consecutive Rallye Sunseeker National victory on Saturday (February 25) and, with it, the chance of a repeat all-expenses paid trip to contest Sol Rally Barbados in his Subaru Impreza WRC. It was his fourth win in the popular southern England event, making it his “best rally”.
Centred around the seaside resorts of Bournemouth and Poole, Rallye Sunseeker International, organised by Southern Car Club, is the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship, the UK’s premier rally series, which runs under an International licence; Challenge, Historic and National events run concurrently.
Should he take it up, Duckworth’s package includes free entry, shipping for the Impreza, flights for driver and co-driver, plus accommodation and rental car; the prize trip to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International, presented by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) in association with the private sector Barbados Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), is valued at around £5,500 (Bds $18,275).
For Rallye Sunseeker 2012, Duckworth was reunited with long-term co-driver Mark Broomfield; in front of thousands of spectators, brought out by the warmest day the UK had recorded for the year, they won every stage, steadily increasing their advantage from a little under two seconds to more than a minute by the finish. Throughout the event, they were chased by father and son Mike and Dan O’Brien, driving Ford Focus WRC08 and WRC02 respectively, and Anthony Willmington (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), who had looked set to win the National event in 2011 – Duckworth incurred a two-minute penalty from which he was unlikely to recover – until ‘Willmo’s’ wheel studs failed.
Following their victory, Duckworth and Broomfield received their awards at Rally HQ, the Bournemouth Marriott Highcliff Hotel, during a Charity Dinner and Auction organised by the International Rally Drivers Club (IRDC) to raise funds for The Children’s Trust, chosen charity of Rallye Sunseeker 2012. The awards were presented by event patron Lord Somerton and Elle, winner of the inaugural Miss Rallye Sunseeker competition.
Among the items auctioned by well-known British motor sport television presenters Louise Goodman and Tony Jardine was a seven-day holiday for two in Barbados, donated by the London office of the BTA. It sold for £2,700 (Bds $8,480), helping the charity realise a total of £6,700 (Bds $21,045) from the auction, a significant percentage of more than £10,000 (Bds $21,045) raised over the weekend.
After receiving his awards, Duckworth commented: “Claiming a fourth win makes Rallye Sunseeker my best event; the lads at Autosportif prepared a car that ran faultlessly . . . and fast! We’ve had a good day with no problems. Now we just need to work out the timing, school holidays and so forth, to see whether we can make the trip a second time.”
Duckworth’s victory was his fourth on the south-coast event – he also won in 1998, 2004 and last year – moving him into second place in the roll of honour behind multiple National Champion Marcus Dodd, who claimed a seven Sunseeker wins between 1999 and 2010.
Entries hit a century six weeks earlier than 2011
Entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2012 posted on the event’s official web site, www.rallybarbados.bb, have already hit a century, six weeks earlier than last year . . . and with 11 weeks to go before the closing date. Of the current total of 104, there are 29 International entries – not including Rallye Sunseeker National winner Roger Duckworth, until he confirms – plus 68 from Barbados and seven from the wider Caribbean. At the end of February last year, the entry total was 61, with 100 not reached until early April.
Sol RB12 Chairman Barry Gale noted: “I am completely stunned at the rate at which entries have flowed in this year – not just the rate, but the number of new names as well! Of course, some of these may withdraw, as usually happens when so many people enter so early, but I still feel we could be facing our maximum start list of 100 for the first time this year.”
The record number of starters for the island’s premier event is 90 – this was achieved in 2003, when there were 38 entries from the wider Caribbean and further afield, and 2010, when the overseas entry total was just 28.
Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are organised and promoted by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB12 is the 23rd running of the Club’s annual International All-Stage Rally and marks the fifth year of title sponsorship by the Sol Group, the Caribbean’s largest independent oil company.