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Rally battle beckons

Scottish duo returning for more action

Scotland’s Brian Watson and Caroline Will, who made their Caribbean rallying debut in 2014, enjoyed their first visit so much that they will be back for more when the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first International All-Stage Rally at Sol Rally Barbados slated for May 29 to 31.

More than that, honour is at stake this year, as a bet was struck over a few bottles of event sponsor Banks beer between Watson, nicknamed “Sheriff” in Scottish rallying circles, and Ireland’s Joe McQuillan, as to which would beat the other in Sol Rally Barbados 2015. Co-driver “Deputy” Will told “Sol Rally Barbados is well and truly engraved on our calendar for every year now –– we had an absolute ball last year. The atmosphere was unbelievable and we made some great new friends that we have stayed in contact with.”

Joe McQuillan

Joe McQuillan

Last year, Watson entered his Audi quattro S1, which attracted a lot of attention, but caused the team endless problems. Will added: “One of the highlights was the first stage at Bushy Park, with our good friends Allan Mackay and Mo Downey having big issues with the Anglia WRC and ourselves breaking the wishbone off the start line. The Audi and Anglia completed the stage side by side, going as fast as they could –– about ten mph –– but the sound from the crowds was amazing, we could hear through our helmets.”

The wager was set in Barbados last year, and preparations are well in hand. Watson has commissioned a new car specifically for the task, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC, which is currently in build, as Will explained.

Brian Watson

Brian Watson

“We sent the shell off a good few months ago, so it should be on the way home this week, then Wayne Sisson at AMS is putting the engine, gearbox and so on in. We hope the car will be built in time for a test run before it heads to Portsmouth, but we know we are running tight for time.”

County Antrim farmer McQuillan, aka “The Big Man”, is back for the fourth consecutive year, hoping to enjoy similar success to his first visit in 2012, when he finished 40th overall and third in Modified 8-A. A variety of mechanical issues have blighted his efforts since, but he is hoping that the current major rebuild will improve things.

His co-driver for the past two years, partner Annette Daly, is stepping aside for this year’s high-pressure event, in favour of Scottish co-driver Sean Donnelly, a good friend of Watson’s, who has competed against him in the Scottish Rally Championship. Daly said: “I’m handing over my seat to Sean this year, as he never got to go racing last year. There may be a fight for the top three overall in Rally Barbados, but Joe and Brian are travelling 5000 miles just to race each other – watch this space, this is a year in the making!”

Both camps are taking this wager seriously although, as Daly attested.

“They couldn’t care less about the money, it’s all about the winning.”

McQuillan’s Masserene Park Farms Lancer has been off the road since last year, undergoing another major reconstruction, which will transform it from an Evo VII into an Evo IX.

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