Home / Cars / Motorsports / News / Stockdale's Record 10th on Sol Rally Barbados


Stockdale's Record 10th on Sol Rally Barbados
Bird maintains winning ways on Jack Frost Stages

Crowd favourite Martin Stockdale will make Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30) a double celebration – while it marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) International All-Stage Rally, it will also see the British BMW pilot's 10th consecutive assault on the event, a record among overseas drivers.

His flamboyant driving style has earned him deserved popularity among the island's thousands of motor sport fans – and the nick-name 'Mad-dale' – while his choice of powerful, rear-wheel-drive BMWs has made him many friends, including one of his closest, fellow BMW driver, Barbadian Jonathan Still.

Stockdale says: "The friends we have made and the relationships that have developed would make it almost unthinkable that we could miss out on our annual trip into unreality. Where else could we go to enjoy fantastic motor sport, coupled with the extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds in such beautiful surroundings - Northampton [a town in the English Midlands] just isn't the same.

"Our visits are made even more pleasurable by sharing the company of like-minded people, not only from Barbados, but also from the UK and Europe, friends we would not have met had it not been for Rally Barbados. I have said it before and I will say it again, if I did only one rally a year, then Rally Barbados would be it."

He returns with Mark Swallow, his co-driver since 2004, and the BMW M3 Compact he debuted last year. Once again, they have backing from Barbados businesses, the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort and Drive-a-Matic Car Rentals, of which Stockdale notes: "Without the generous and continued support from Alvin at Divi Southwinds and Aldo at Drive-a-Matic, we would certainly struggle to return, particularly in the current climate."

Stockdale has rarely climbed aboard the homebound Virgin Atlantic flight without some silverware in his luggage; three times a Group winner – in Modified Open in 2002, Group B in '03 & '05 – he rarely finishes outside the top three, with best overall results of seventh ('02) and 12th ('07).

Rally Chairman Barry Gale is delighted the popular Brit is returning: "Martin's name has become synonymous with Rally Barbados. During his first few visits, he quickly earned a reputation among spectators as one of the 'guys to watch' - they dubbed him Martin 'Mad-dale' Stockdale, in reference mainly to his driving style, but also thanks to the glorious sounds that emanated from his cars, especially that nearly five-litre fire-breathing dragon of a 3 Series. As I have said before, earning a nickname in Barbados means you have been totally accepted as 'one of us'. Over the last decade, Martin has been entertainer to the masses, captain to the visitors' beach cricket team, a valuable source of feedback to the organisers and, above all, a gentleman competitor. It is indeed a relief to see his name on the entry list!"

Bird maintains winning ways on Jack Frost Stages

Runner-up to Kris Meeke in Sol Rally Barbados for the past two years, former UK National Rally Champion Paul Bird proved that he's still a winner last Sunday (January 17), with his second consecutive victory on the annual Cartersport Jack Frost Stages; with co-driver Kirsty Riddick, 'Birdy' steered the Energy Ford Focus WRC08 to victory by more than two minutes.

The '07 Focus in which Bird finished second in Sol RB09, now campaigned by Barbadian Paul Bourne, has been replaced by the car which carried Argentina's Federico Villagra to career-best WRC fourth places in his home event and the Acropolis Rally in 2009. Bird and regular co-driver Ian Windress tackled Rallye Catalunya last year and plan a selective programme of WRC events in 2010.

Run at the Croft race circuit in the North of England, the same venue at which another Barbados regular, Kevin Procter, ploughed through the snow to victory in the Christmas Stages two weeks ago, Sunday's event enjoyed a marked improvement in the weather.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Bird, however, with a big overshoot on the day's opening stage, then a spin on stage three caused by a broken driveshaft; five stage wins from a possible eight, however, were enough. Chris Wise in the ex-Roger Mayers MG Metro 6R4 claimed two stage wins during an impressive fight-back from 77th to finish third, after an error on the opening stage had cost him well over two minutes – apart from stages one and three, there were never more than six seconds (in around six minutes) between the 24-year-old Metro and Bird's Focus.

Sol Rally Barbados (May 29/30) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB2010 marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Club's International All-Stage Rally.