Citroen World Rally Championship driver Kris Meeke says every rally fan should visit Sol Rally Barbados “at least once”. The Ulsterman made the remark when he joined the Circuit of Ireland’s Chief Marshal Raymond Linton last week to pick the names of two motor sport volunteers who will enjoy a trip to Sol RB16 next month (June 3-5) out of the prestigious Ulster Automobile Club Trophy.
Double winner of the Barbados Rally Club’s premier event with co-driver Paul Nagle in 2008 & ’09, Meeke was home in Dungannon after launching the test and development programme of Citroen Racing’s new WRC contender in France, then doing the recce for Rally Argentina, the event at which he claimed his first WRC victory last year.
Kris said: “It’s brilliant to reward a couple of Circuit of Ireland marshals. I hope the people who have won have never been before. It’s definitely something that everyone should do at least once. Sol Rally Barbados is a great event, but it’s not just the event, it’s everything else that goes with it...the sunshine, the atmosphere and the people.
“People think Irish rallying is laid back, but out there it’s unbelievable! It was nice to be invited to do it and it holds a special place for me. I got to know a lot of the locals and [Rally Chairman] Mark Hamilton still keeps in touch with me. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to go back.”
Nicole Adair and Julie Edghill were chosen from around 800 marshals who worked on this year’s ‘Circuit’ (April 8/9) to win return flights from London Gatwick to Barbados, accommodation and rental car, plus VIP hospitality, courtesy of the Barbados Rally Club and the Tourism Development Corporation. Both are from County Down: Adair, from Portavogie, marshalled on the Cairncastle stage while Edghill, who lives in Carryduff, was at the start of the Hamilton’s Folly stage, as well as in Bushmills for the regroup.
Adair, who will be making the trip with her partner Winston Murdoch – they marshalled together at Cairncastle – said: “I had only just started a new job on the Monday, a few days before I heard I’d won the prize. I had just told my new boss that I didn’t have any holidays planned until January next year...then the next day I had to ask him if I could get time off to go to Barbados in a few weeks! Everyone has been so very helpful and we have bought a second ticket, so that we can make what sounds like a fabulous trip together.”
Edghill first fell into motor sport while working in London, as a colleague marshalled at Brands Hatch; she became Chief Paddock Marshal before moving to Race Control, then also became involved with what was then known as the RAC Rally. She and her partner John Cunningham are Treasurer and Chairman respectively of the Northern Ireland region of the British Motorsport Marshals’ Club.
Of her prize trip, she said: “I was absolutely stunned when I found out I’d won. I was told that Raymond Linton had been trying to contact me at work – sometimes we can’t answer our phones straight away - as my name had been pulled out of the hat for the Sol Rally Barbados trip. I was just so excited about it! It will be lovely to go over to see how they do things there.”