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Hall In Ex-Works Puma For Sol Rally Barbados
Local competitors urged to finalise their plans

Regular visitor Kenny Hall drove Zero Car on Saturday's (April 3) Charterhall Stages in his native Scotland to shake down the ex-works Ford Puma in which he is aiming for a fourth Class win when he contests Sol Rally Barbados 2010 (May 29/30), which celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) International All-Stage Rally.

The popular Scot describes his first new rally car for more than 10 years as "very, very different" from his Suzuki-engined Opel Corsa; built in 2002, it was first campaigned in the Junior WRC by future British Rally Champion Guy Wilks and Zimbabwe's Conrad Rautenbach, then in Scotland by Barry Clark and Ireland by Brian O'Mahony.

Hall has missed the BRC's premier event only once since 2002, and has been a regular visitor to the island for family holidays with wife Fiona and sons Alex and Jonny, proof positive of the value of rallying within the increasingly-important sports-tourism mix. He has won Modified 5 three times in Rally Barbados, with co-drivers Colin Smith (2004) then Holland's Fenny Wesselink (2007 &'09), the duo also winning the award for highest-placed crew including a female in 2007.

The Puma is built to the original S1600 regs, which required a 1600cc normally-aspirated engine, with restrictor, developing around 210bhp, and driving through the front wheels only; it has roller throttle bodies and a Hewland six-speed, flat-shift sequential gearbox . . . which Hall found something of a challenge on Saturday: "The car is good, but very, very different! Everything's in the wrong place, you don't use the clutch, don't take your foot off the throttle when you're changing gear, pull for up, push for down . . . and the handbrake's next to gear lever.

"It was okay, though, with just a minor bump on the front, thanks to pulling the gear lever and going up a gear, rather than snatching the hand brake for a tight hairpin through tyres. As the day went on, I realised that it was not the same as the Corsa - I can't even see the wings, the car's so wide . . . so, the next test will be King of the Hill. I can't wait to see how it goes on the dry stuff. It certainly took the wet well – we were hanging on flat in sixth on some long sweeping curves at Charterhall."

Local competitors urged to finalise their plans

With less than four weeks to go before entries close for the Caribbean's biggest annual international motor sport event, organisers of Sol Rally Barbados 2010 are urging island competitors to complete their arrangements.

Rally Chairman Barry Gale said: "It is very important that local competitors do not lose touch with the time line. Entries have been coming in since before Christmas, but of course these have all been on-line entries – some people might even have forgotten that they entered . . . or, even worse, think they have, but never got round to it!"

Friday, April 30 is the closing date for entries, and also the final date by which local competitors must pay their entry fees. The previous Sunday (April 25), however, is the Shakedown Stages, which may also have a significance for novice or returning competitors, as Gale explains: "In recent years, we have developed careful guidelines to ensure a certain level of experience before a competitor starts Rally Barbados."

The Additional Supplementary Regulations for the event state quite clearly:

+ novice competitors must have taken part in at least one Special Stage Rally in 2010 prior to this event. No entry will be accepted where Sol Rally Barbados 2010 will be the competitor's first event

+ experienced competitors who have not participated in a rally within the last five years must notify the committee of their intent to compete – depending on prior experience levels, participation in one Rally before RB10 may be required

"Since we instituted the on-line entry system, keeping control of these issues has become much simpler," adds Gale. "Every on-line entry received is automatically forwarded to a number of people, including Jeanne Crawford, our Rally Office Manager, and me. Between us, we recognise most names, so have been able to alert people if they fall into one of these categories."

As a final warning, however, Gale added: "There are still nearly 10 drivers who entered last year, but are not yet on this year's list. I would urge everyone who wants to be there to make sure they have entered, so they won't be disappointed."

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.