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A familiar face should be back in Barbados for Sol Rally Barbados 2013.
British rally driver Andy Hawkins will this year return to the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International for the first time since his debut in an Austin Mini 10 years ago.
This time, he will be at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf GTI MkIV, formerly his mother’s company car, which is currently undergoing a ground-up rebuild to transform it for Sol Rally Barbados which comes off on June 1 and 2.
The Golf is one of four cars of which the Barbados Rally Club is currently aware, that are being built, or completely rebuilt, by international competitors specifically for the island’s premier event.This continues the trend of previous years, in which perhaps the most notable new build was the mini of Dutch enthusiast Frans Verbaas created for Sol Rally Barbados 2009 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the iconic car’s launch.
Confirmed last month were Ireland’s Enda McCormack with a new-build Ford Escort MkII and his team-mate Tommy Doyle’s Renault Clio, in the midst of a bare-shell rebuild in Ireland. In addition to the Hawkins Golf, father and son team Rob and Ross Weir, who entered for the first time last year in a new-build Subaru Impreza, now have a Triumph TR7 V8 being recreated.
Hawkins and co-driver Chris Prabucki earned a host of fans in 2003 in the mini, which was driven with great enthusiasm to 32nd overall.
Love for bikes
Having largely retired from rallying after Rally Barbados 2003, Hawkins concentrated on his love of motorcycling, enjoying two major adventures, to Mount Ararat in Turkey (resting place of Noah’s Ark), then deep into the Sahara Desert and high into the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
The Volkswagen was presented to Hawkins’s mother, Jenny, when she took early retirement just before Royal Barbados 2003; when he decided in 2011 to return to Barbados this year, he bought it and started work.
Hawkins said: “The decision was soon made to fully strip and create a car that would be even better built than the dear old mini. Sol Rally Barbados is the reason for our return to the sport and the car is currently being re-fitted, aiming for first tests at the end of February/early March.
“I envisage that the engine will be pretty much standard for RB13, so possibly not that competitive, as we will not have had time to develop and test it before shipping. I am more interested in ensuring the thing will go in a straight line, start and stop. It will be fun driving a full-size car. . .actually, it will be fun rallying again.”Fans can track the rebuild on the team’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/ashadirs). (RB)††