McRAE CROWNED 2015 CARNIVAL KING

Five-time British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae beat all class contenders to the top prize in Barbados historic rallying - King of the Carnival.

Driving a Tuthill Porsche Post-Historic 911 with trusty long-time co-driver Ian Grindrod by his side, the Scottish ace blitzed all in Category 2 - for cars built between 1968 and 1974 - in the International Rallysprint and the Barbados Historic Rally, to bring home the Andrew Phillips Memorial trophy.

The RallySprint at Vaucluse Raceway was the first event of the Carnival. Of the six class categories contended, McRae was fastest in Post-Historic Category 2, with local driver Wayne Manning's Mk1 Escort RS2000 fewer than two seconds off McRae's 2m 25.6s time.

Ian 'Pip' Coulson won the Classic Category 3a class - for 1600cc cars built between 1975 and 1981. The competition from Bajan Johnathan Ince's rapid Daihatsu Charmant was stiff, but Pip's consistent and tidy driving saw him over the finish line first.

In Classic Category 3b - for over-1600cc cars - the 2011 Barbados Historic Rally Carnival winner Darren Moon's newly-built Mk2 Ford Escort RS pipped Barry 'Baz' Jordan's Escort RS2000 by 1.1 seconds in the semis, to get him into the final.

Yorkshireman Moon was back in Barbados, claiming his Carnival King prize of a free trip to this year's event. While preparing his new lightweight asphalt Appendix K Escort RS just for the Caribbean trip, Moon had a bit of a setback, when his new paint job began flaking off! Frantically stripped back to a bare bodyshell, sandblasted again and repainted, Moon had just two weeks to build the car before its trip to Barbados.

Before the RallySprint Moon explained: "We literally finished it on a Saturday, set the camber and castor on Saturday morning, took it up the road and it felt too high, so we lowered it, took a bit of castor off, took it up the road again and then it went on the trailer to go to Portsmouth (to be loaded on the Barbados-bound Geest banana boat). So that's all it's done."

Moon dominated the Category 3b heats, with fastest times in all three runs, but was beaten in the final by Greg Cozier in a similar Appendix K Escort RS, certainly hinting at some stiff competition to come in the Barbados Historic Rally the following weekend.

'Domination' describes Joshua 'Josh' Read's RallySprint performance in the Group B category for Historic, Post-Historic and Classic cars built with modern components (like non-original engines, sequential gearboxes and fuel injection). The 2007 Barbados Motoring Club Champion and 2013 Barbados Rally Club Champ stormed his rear-drive Toyota Starlet to a convincing victory, more than ten seconds faster than his four category competitors.

Josh started rallying in 2005 and has developed the Starlet to its latest, stunning 2015 specification. Fitted with a Hasselgren 'just over' 1800cc 4A-GE twin cam (US-rebuilt this year) with some 270bhp, the engine runs to 10,000rpm. "It's a screamer," confirms Josh.

Josh not only dominated his class, but won the trophy for fastest time of the day.

After the enthusiastic Saturday night RallySprint prizegiving celebrations, on Sunday crews met up for the Ian Grindrod invitational 20/20 Cricket Match and Hog Roast at Glendale Cricket Club.

Umpired by BHRC founder Greg Cozier (in his infamous Bajan 'Gentleman Pirate' Stede Bonnet costume, in order to better dispense the Jolly Roger 'Pirate Punch Penalties'), the event was run to interpretively correct cricket rules and resulted in a draw between the home team (captained by Spencer Hutchinson) and the touring side (skippered by Ian Grindrod).

Neither captain was in any condition to give this reporter a post-event interview. . .

Needless to say, the well-organised event developed not much later into a proper test match celebration. A customised casket beer cooler was delivered by a 1966 Buick hearse and emptied with enthusiasm, along with casks of red rum and rum punch. The eventual rain came after the close of play, prompting some post-sunset 'cooling down' dancing on the field.

The week between the two motor sport events which make up the Barbados Historic Rally Carnival offered ample time for the real craic, for which the hospitable Caribbean island is renowned. Organised and impromptu parties and gatherings were all around; rallymen, ladies and kids all enjoying good times in the sun and still-hot balmy evenings. . . and early mornings.

The Historic Rally on the second Carnival weekend was the serious stuff. Recce was unrestricted, so not too taxing, with three special stage venues to check out. The first stage, Hangman Hill was run three times in each direction with a 2.7km, very technical and slippery detour through Vaucluse Raceway. The other two stages were equally challenging, especially at night and in the rain, and were run three times each in a single direction.

With 30-second intervals between cars, the Vaucluse Raceway section offered spectators the chance to witness three cars competing on the course at the same time. Needless to say, it was a very popular vantage point on the Hangman Hill to Lion Castle stage; the Vaucluse Clubhouse Hog & Grog bar enjoyed a roaring trade from the event's 14:00 start to its midnight finish.

After the six stages of the rally's first leg, Carnival organiser Greg 'Hotty' Cozier's very tidy and rapid BDA-powered Classic Escort RS led Moon's similar car by just seven seconds, with the McRae Porsche third.

Sadly, electrical gremlins halted Moon's progress through the last four night stages, where Cozier and co-driver Natasha 'Nats' Farnum maintained their pace over wet, slippery and dark stages, to finish some three minutes overall ahead of Jimmy McRae and Ian Grindrod's Tuthill Porsche 911. Ian 'Pip' Coulson set some tidy times in his Talbot Sunbeam on his way to third overall.

After post-rally celebrations and a bit of well-deserved Sunday morning rest, Carnival crews mustered at the historic Bridgetown Careenage for the official prizegiving sponsored by world-famous Mount Gay Rum.

In recognition of his regal efforts, Jim McRae was awarded the King of the Carnival Trophy, which he will keep for a year and add his name to the others who've won it since 2002. As a foreign winner, Jim will receive a free trip back to the Barbados Historic Rally Carnival next year.

Barbados Historic Rally winners Cozier and Farnum happily accepted the Challenge Trophy, for their excellent result on the second Carnival motorsport event. Courtesy of manufacturer Fastime, Cozier's co-driver Nats Farnum was also awarded a special limited edition Julien Ingrassia World Rally Champion Co-Pilote watch in recognition of her efforts.

Every Carnival crew member was presented with a souvenir embroidered Barbados Historic Rally Carnival shirt; then it was time to celebrate 12 days of motorsport fun in the sun, with a trip up the west coast of the island on the world-famous Jolly Roger pirate ship. Needless to say, the uniquely Caribbean celebrations continued well into the late night. Two days later, cars packed for the return Geest banana boat trip, foreign competitors were on their way back to Gatwick and making plans for more Carnival action next year.

For more information, please visit www.barbadosrallycarnival.com. Any email enquiries about next year's event should be sent to greg.huzier@gmail.com.