JUST GOT EVEN BETTER!

Classic RallySprint venue returns to Carnival

Sitting in a 50-acre, natural 'amphitheatre' in the middle of Barbados, with epic views of countryside, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in all directions, Vaucluse Raceway made a huge impression on competitors and spectators alike when first used as a rallysprint venue in 2000.

With its sinuous curves, over challenging, very fast, kinked straights, nadgery hairpin sections, over crests and the bridge and through the tunnel, the layout and surface changes on this three-kilometre course soon built a very strong reputation for fierce competition and pure driver enjoyment.

Indeed, while assessing the track as a venue for the Race of Champions in 2001, Michele Mouton, runner-up to the 1982 WRC drivers' champion, creator of the sport of RallySprint and current FIA WRC manager, commented: "It's a real drivers' track. If the drivers like it, the fans will come!"; and so they did.

After a bureaucracy-beleaguered break of some seven years, Vaucluse Raceway is back in use for the 2015 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival. The surface is made up of concrete, compacted coral aggregate and traditional hand-laid asphalt, resembling the ancient roads used for special-stage rallying on Barbados.

Vaucluse Raceway's reputation as a track with proper craic was cemented when international rally crews arrived there for the first Barbados Rally Carnival in 2001 and every subsequent year until 2007. It was the venue for the first event in the two-weekend Carnival - the International Rallysprint - and was used again as the final stage in Rally Barbados back when the Carnival was an event for modern cars.

Prizegiving and rally finish parties at Vaucluse Raceway's Pig 'n' Likka Bar have become the stuff of legend, with international barrel-rolling, mud-sliding, beer-drinking and rum-shotting competitions lasting into embarrassingly-early morning hours.

The Barbados Historic Rally Carnival will visit Vaucluse Raceway twice in 2015: for the International Rallysprint on Saturday 22 November and again as part of the Hangman Hill special stage, used three times going north during daylight hours on 29 November and twice going south in darkness.

Organiser Greg Cozier said: "Many Barbados Rally Carnival competitors who've been coming here for years have said that the fiercely-competitive, family-friendly, overtly-social atmosphere at Vaucluse Raceway really made their visit here special, especially since it always provided new visitors a chance to test their cars in a forgiving environment before the rather-more-serious rally the following weekend.

"Many days between the RallySprint and the Rally have been spent adjusting cars to go faster, longer; it is a great test, as well as serious competition. We're obviously very happy to have it back and looking forward to seeing some old faces from across the pond enjoying it again as well. Some of the parties we've had here we probably shouldn't talk about!"

'OVER THE MOON'

Darren Moon, outright winner of the 2011 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival, is more than delighted to return to the island next year to contest the event in his Mk2 Escort RS1800. The UK historic rally stalwart's clear victory earns Moon the prize of the 2015 Caribbean trip for him, his co-driver and his car for free. Understandably, Darren is extremely happy and looking forward to the challenge: "My daughter Nicole would go anywhere there's motorsport, but since Nicole was born, my wife Jane prefers the comfort of home," says Darren.

"For all of you out there unsure about taking the family on a rally holiday, Jane's words on returning to the UK were; 'That is the best holiday we have ever had'.

"Unbelievable; a holiday with rallying. . . and she says that! We made some great new friends and met local people, organisers and competitors, who really do have a genuine love of the sport and know how to party. . . big time!"

A similar arrangement is in place for the 2015 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival, which is partnered with the 2014 Killarney Historic Rally. Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. will provide a full free entry deal to the 2015 Caribbean event for the winning historic rally car in Ireland: a superb prize.

Additionally, the 2015 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival victor wins a free trip back to the Barbados event in 2016 if he/she is not a Barbadian. If the Rally Carnival winner is a local Bajan, there's a paid trip to the Killarney event next year up for grabs.

There's still time to arrange to take in some top-level Irish historic rallying over classic stages as historic competitors vying for victory in Killarney this year will start on Saturday 29 November. The first stage is also one of the most well-known: the 20km of Molls Gap. First car starts SS1 at 08:30; then there's SS2, 15.29km of Ballaghabaema at 09:19 and SS3 Carragh Lake's 14.2km at 13:16. The cars are then back for service in Killarney, repeat the same three stages again as SS4, SS5 and SS6 before second service, then head east for SS7 and SS8 at Gorthnagane at 15:30 in daylight and 17:00 in darkness, before the finish back in Killarney.

Of course, there's the massive craic of the rally prizegiving dinner at the Gleneagle Hotel rally HQ in the evening. . . and on!

A veritable roll-call of top Irish historic rally drivers are on the entry list for the event. Sadly, last year's winner Mark Falvey is sidelined, because repairs to his accident-damaged car won't be completed in time, but Denis Moynihan - one of the fastest historic asphalt drivers in Ireland - will be there with his FIA Appendix K Mk1 Escort; the only Mk1 in the event, driven by a man who is very familiar with the route: hard to beat. Last year, Melvyn Evans ran a UK MSA-specification Mk2 Escort; this year, he's competing under FIA Appendix K rules, as are Garreth Lloyd, Tomas Davies and Rob Smith.

Notable is the Barbados Historic Rally Carnival-sponsored entry of Greg Cozier. Engineer, driver, Rally Carnival organiser, enthusiastic historic rallying devotee and handy Escort peddler, this year Cozier is running an Appendix K Escort RS1800 Mk2 in the Killarney event. Ever the pragmatist, however, Cozier doesn't set his sights too high: "I would be overwhelmed with joy and unquenchable thirst if we made it back to the bar without a scratch on the car and a few good hairpin pictures!"

Also sponsored by the Barbados Historic Rally Carnival for the Killarney event is Welshman Rupert Lomax in his Category Two Escort RS1600, navigated by Dave 'Squeak' Alcock. Lomax is enamoured with historic rallying and Barbados. Rally Carnival organiser Cozier explains that his Caribbean sponsorship came about: "Because Rupert's been competing here for years and thinks rallying historic cars in Barbados is better than the affection of his farmyard critters."

STUNNING BARBADOS ENTRY DEAL

The 2015 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival offers amazing value to competitors. Return shipping of one rally car from Portsmouth UK to Barbados, entry to the Historic Rally and the Rallysprint, two return flights from London, one self-catering suite for 12 nights and free entry to all Carnival social events, all for just US$4,900. Hardly surprising that there is massive UK interest in contesting the event.

If you wish to register an interest and/or have any questions, please email the Rally Carnival organiser Greg Cozier at: greg@barbadosrallycarnival.com.

Full details and key Carnival dates are on

www.barbadosrallycarnival.com.