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Wallis to Mark 40th at Sol Rally Barbados
Unexpected results for Bajan crews in Rally Trinidad

Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30) not only marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) International All-Stage Rally, but also provides British regular Simon Wallis – he's competed on the island for six of the past seven years – with an ideal way of celebrating his 40th birthday.

While the struggle for overall supremacy on the Caribbean's biggest annual international motor sport event will be the focus for many, it is becoming clear that the battle for Group N is also shaping up to be an interesting one. Of the 26 entries so far received on-line for the BRC's four-wheel-drive classes – Modified 8-WRC, M8-A and Production 4 (Group N) – more than half are from overseas.

During the first three rounds of the Virgin Atlantic BRC Drivers' and Class Championships, an intense local struggle has already developed in Group N between reigning Champion Geoff Noel and former Champion Barry Gale, swapping times back and forth and rarely separated by more than a few tenths in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IXs; but that is where a number of the visitors will do battle, including Wallis and fellow British crew Rob Swann and Darren Garrod, whose entry was confirmed in January.

In his six previous visits, Wallis has competed in front-wheel-drive hatchbacks, either Vauxhall Astra – he finished class second once, third twice, and in a different Astra each year – or Peugeot 205; for Sol Rally Barbados 2010, however, he steps up to four-wheel-drive in a 2004 Subaru Impreza N10, backed by software consultancy firm Wallis Performance Ltd and DialPrefix, and co-driven by Louise Hay.

Wallis says: "The car was driven by Chris Firth to eighth in the British Rally Championship last year and I bought it as a 40th birthday present for myself, with an eye to bringing it to Barbados. This is my seventh Rally Barbados in eight years - I was disappointed to miss RB09 due to work commitments, and I will be careful not to let that happen again."

Having started rallying in 1995 in a Skoda Favorit in the UK's one-make Skoda Trophy, he acquired the first of many Vauxhall Astras, in which he won the 2002 Toshiba Irish Tarmac Championship; while he is looking forward to his outing in Barbados, he has bad memories of his first relationship with a Subaru: "If you were to ask about major disasters, I'd have to say Wales Rally GB 2008, the really snowy one; it was my first rally in a Subaru (a GC8) and each day was cut very short by turbo fires."

As far as Sol RB10 in concerned, Wallis is not gunning for the local stars: "As with all my previous visits, I'm looking forward to simply doing the best I can, and enjoying it in the process. The car is still on a 32mm turbo restrictor, so we will be giving away a bit of power to other Group N cars who have moved on to 33mm, but two days on the island's roads is a long time and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Unexpected results for Bajan crews in Rally Trinidad

A number of the Group N crews Wallis will face at the end of May will come from Trinidad, which hosted overseas visitors from Barbados and the UK – in the form of triple British Rally Champion Mark Higgins – last weekend for the twin-island state's premier event, Rally Trinidad, organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Rally Club (TTRC).

Not everything went to plan for the Bajan crews - early casualties included Rally Trinidad 2008 winner Paul Bourne (Banks/Chefette/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford Focus WRC07), who hit mechanical problems on Saturday morning; even worse befell Dean Serrao, campaigning Bourne's former Subaru Impreza WRC S9 outside Barbados for the first time, when it was engulfed by fire on the opening stage – both Serrao and co-driver Michael Worme were uninjured, but the car was totally destroyed.

Despite early setbacks, Neil Armstrong was declared fourth in his Group A Evo VI, while Mark Hamilton (Valvoline Oil/PowerMaster Batteries/Kumho Batteries/Consolidated Finance Ford Escort MkII) finished one position behind him, class-winner and highest-placed two-wheel-drive car – he had inherited that honour once Ian Warren had run off in the Automotive Art/Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift. Ryan Wood (Toyota Starlet) was also a class-winner, with 3W's team-mate Stuart White third in class.

Trinidad-based Jamaican John Powell (Shell Helix Subaru Impreza WRC S12) prevailed overall, adding to his victories of 2005 & '06, achieved in a Toyota Corolla WRC, with Higgins and co-driver Nicky Grist second and winners of Group N.

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.