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Ex-Peugeot UK 106 Maxi for Sol Rally Barbados
Barbados Rally Club season gets under way

With seven first-time overseas crews among the on-line entries for Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30), and enquiries still being received by the organising Barbados Rally Club (BRC), this year's event looks set to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Club's International All-Stage Rally in style.

Among the newcomers are English crew Graham Butler and Darren Lakeland, who promise to take the fight to the popular local Modified 6 class in their ex-works Peugeot 106 Maxi, backed by Evolution Sports Supplements, Veloce Wheels and Containers to Go; the competition will include reigning BRC Modified 6 Champions Edward Corbin and Rodney Clarke (Automotive Art/Klark-Odio/Corbins Garage Daihatsu Charmant) and another overseas entry already confirmed, Ireland's Peter Gallagher, co-driven in his Dublin Crystal/Peter Gallagher Design Peugeot 206 by Bajan Dario Hoyte.

Peugeot UK driver Justin Dale won the British Super 1600 Championship in 1999 and 2001 – including a sensational third overall on the Manx International - in this car, which Butler bought three years ago. Butler says: "The car punches well above its weight in terms of results; it's specifically a tarmac car, developed by Peugeot UK to deal with the gravel stages in the UK and the bumpy tarmac of Ireland.

"It's quite a potent package - 228bhp, weighs about 800kgs and, with its wide body and track, it handles and stops exceptionally well. I'm hoping it will be well-suited to Barbados and that I'll be on the pace in the Class. We're really looking forward to some sun, sand, rallying, a little beer . . . and, of course, some great company."

Butler started rallying in a self-prepared Vauxhall Viva GT, before moving on to a series of Fords, the first a Pinto-engined MkII Escort; after four rallies, the car was sold and six years passed before he got behind the wheel of a three-door Group A Sierra Cosworth. After three events – in the last of which he finished third overall – he had the car re-shelled into a Sapphire by RED (Rally Engineering Developments, which now prepares the Peugeot), also upgrading to four-wheel drive.

He finished fourth overall and Class Champion in the ANWCC Stage Rally Championship, with a worst result of third, in 1995 – in the same year, he claimed his first overall win, on the Promenade Stages Rally; travelling further afield, he tackled Rallye Dieppe in France (10th overall) and set a number of top 10 times on his first visit to the Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

After a brief flirtation with an Escort Cosworth in 1997 – ninth overall on his first UK National – Butler returned to his roots, with a Group N Vauxhall Astra in the 1999 British Rally Championship. He started well, second in Class on the Rally of Wales, but a big accident on the Pirelli International Rally – he hit a log pile head on and shortened the car by a foot – brought the season to an abrupt end.

He reverted to a Group A Sapphire Cosworth, finishing in the top three on every event, then a Group A Escort Cosworth; he won two more rallies in 2001, then contested the 2002 Ford Puma Championship, before retiring from the sport to concentrate on his business . . . until buying the Peugeot.

Barbados Rally Club season kicks off

While Sol Rally Barbados is the BRC's blue riband event, it is still a long way off - island motor sport fans starved of action for the past three months, however, do not have much longer to wait as the Club's 2010 season starts on Saturday (February 27) with the BRC Spring Gravel Sprint at Searles, Christ Church.

A double-header, the event forms the first two rounds of the Virgin Atlantic BRC Driver's Championship and the Virgin Atlantic BRC Class Championship, with round three coming just two weekends later – the BRC Spring Gravel Rally (Sunday, March 13).

As in 2009, the Driver's Championship will be based on overall results in the 10 qualifying rounds; the Class Championship will be based on class results, with individual Class Champions and an Overall Class Champion; the full calendar is as follows:

Qualifying rounds:
Rounds 1 & 2 - February 27 - BRC Spring Gravel Sprint
Round 3 - March 14 - BRC Spring Gravel Rally
Round 4 - April 25 – BRC Shakedown Stages
Round 5 - May 23 - Shell V-Power King of the Hill
Rounds 6 & 7 - May 29/30 - Sol Rally Barbados
Round 8 - July 24 - BRC Summer Nights Tarmac Rally
Rounds 9 - September 11 - MCBI Tarmac Rally
Round 10 - October 31 - BRC Winter Rally

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.