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Europeans set sail for Barbados

Motor sport fans who work for the Geest Line in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, have been enjoying themselves over the past couple of days, as more than 20 rally cars have assembled on the docks ready for shipping next week to the Caribbean's biggest annual motor sport event, Sol Rally Barbados.

While they would have expected to find models from those car-makers recognised in the rally world, such as Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel and Subaru - with at least three ex-works World Rally Cars among them - there were two distinguished names from the British motor industry that would have raised more than the occasional eyebrow . . . Aston Martin and Riley!

And two more diverse cars you could hardly expect to find, separated by more than 40 years in age, more than 300 horsepower in the engine department, and the best part of two feet in length.

For the Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation's 1965 Riley 1.5, this is the second trip across the Atlantic; in the hands of Ding Boston, one of the OUMF's founders, and ace student co-driver Jon Puliston, it finished second in the Historic class of Sol Rally Barbados 2008, despite a slight brush with the scenery on the Sunday morning.

Bought for just £300 on eBay, the car was transported from a Scottish field to a cowshed near Oxford, where it was restored and prepared for competition at their own expense by student members of the OUMF. This is an independent, student-run initiative providing the encouragement and facility for 'hands-on' engineering experience that is now almost completely lacking at either university.

Of their trip last year, Boston noted: "We learned more in that two weeks than we've learned together in the past three years: it was a real pressure-cooker environment, and the only way for them to get that experience is by going out and doing it."

The OUMF crew is still busy fund-raising for this year, now that car preparation and delivery to Portsmouth is complete. Boston added:

"As well as some very welcome backing from local firm Phillips Tyres, also MASS Race Engines, Powervamp Racing, Recaro and Toyo Tyres, we have the promise of some good media coverage from Practical Classics Magazine, so we can certainly provide a return for potential sponsors."

The Aston Martin Rally GT is an entirely different animal, touted by its creators as "the world's most exclusive rally car". Developed in 2006 by Aston Martin Racing, a partnership between Prodrive and Aston Martin, the Rally GT is based on the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It was extensively re-engineered by Prodrive, which combined its experience of running the Aston Martin DBR9s in international sportscar racing with more than 20 years of rallying experience, to create this unusual car.



Related Pictures

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Xevi Pons at the wheel of a Prodrive-built Aston Martin Rally GT on Rally Osona [Pic credit: Prodrive]
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