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Mark Jordan: The Left Seat Perspective

2014/09/12th
Article by:Glenn Beckles
Video compliments Brett Harvey-Read


It’s been said that co-drivers have to be a bit crazy to let someone drive them at ridiculous speeds, all the while sitting there and calling pace notes like it’s normal. Is calling pace notes all there is to being a co-driver? Who better to find out the truth from than the source? With this in mind, we sought out Mark Jordan, co-driver for Josh Read. Does Mark have those screws loose? We’ll let you decide.

All good partnerships start with good friendships, and Josh and Mark are no exception. “I’ve been navigating for Josh since 2006. We went to school together and formed a great friendship there.” Most people have the perception that co-drivers just strap in and call pace notes. That’s a bit of a misconception, as Mark goes on to explain, “Yes, calling notes is what the public sees but there is more to it. Timekeeping is a huge part in rallying. Check in arrivals for stages must be precise. Both Josh and myself have full mechanical knowledge of the car and know it inside and out. If there are any problems during a rally, two heads are better than one and we make a great team. Especially in heated moments, I calm him down and vice versa.”

Rallying is a team effort, which places trust as one of the key elements of a success. This trust works both ways: the driver has to trust the notes that his co-driver is calling, and the co-driver has to trust that the driver is actually focused on and listening to the notes. Just how strong is the trust that Mark places in Josh? “There are few people I trust driving me in a road car, far less a racing car! I was in a very bad accident when I was young with someone driving and since then I refuse to let others drive me. Josh is one of the very few and just by chance, he takes it overboard by going very very fast! As the car developed from 1600cc to 1800cc it has grown wings and his ability to control it is remarkable. I have seen him do things behind the wheel that have left me speechless! I have 100% trust in Josh Read!”

It’s interesting that Mark mentioned being left speechless. During the Spring Blaze event earlier this year, Mark was a passenger with Josh. I say passenger because co-drivers weren’t required for the event. Josh was flying, and Mark had a front row seat. The in-car footage from this event went viral on Facebook and YouTube, and was also the inspiration for this article. “The Spring Blaze event…I’m still holding heat from viewers for my remarks!” he laughs. “Josh and Ian Warren have one of the best friendly rivalries in motorsport in Barbados, and they were going at it hard on that day! I’ll honestly say that in my mind at that moment I was saying ‘Someone get me out of here!’ ” with more laughter as recalls the memory. Is reviewing footage from events part of the process for drivers and co-drivers? “It’s great looking back at footage. Especially when your memory isn’t clear of everything happening at 100mph! It’s also important when we are viewing a stage to see where we can make it better and have to rewind it a couple of times at a specific point and say ‘That was sick, dread!!”

Do nerves come into play once Mark is strapped into the Starlet? “I have been nervous a few times…the first stage of our career comes to mind! You can ask Josh about that one.” (We just might do that. “Also when it comes down to the rally being decided on the final stage or two and Josh is in Maximum Attack Mode!” So there you have it folks, you can come to your own conclusions about Mark’s sanity…or lack thereof. One thing’s for sure, he and Josh read are a dynamic duo. Red265 Rally Media would like to thank Mark Jordan for taking time out from his busy schedule to give us some insight into what it’s like being in the left seat of one of the quickest two-wheel drive cars in local motorsport. We’d like to wish him at the Read Racing Team the best of luck this season and beyond. Stay tuned for more information and updates on next weekend’s Sun & Stars Rally.

'History in the making, Barbados to Host Race of Champions 2014'

2014/09/06th
Article by:Glenn Beckles
Photos compliments Kevin Wood

 

 It’s okay, you can stop pinching yourselves now…the Race of Champions (ROC) is coming to Barbados.  I must admit, it felt all so surreal when I first heard the news that Bushy Park is set to host motorsports’ grand finale on December 13th and 14th.  Coincidentally, this is the first time that the ROC has been held in the Americas. Reality forcefully dawned on me when I attended the press conference, seeing Andrew Mallalieu (Chairman Barbados Motoring Federation), Fredrik Johnsson (CEO, Founder of ROC), Petra Roach (President Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc), Mark Maloney (CEO Bushy Park Circuit Inc) and Michele Mouton (Co-founder of ROC, 1982 World Rally Championship runner up, 1985 Pikes Peak winner, Group B Audi Quattro tamer) to the front of the room.

 
For 25 years the Race of Champions has been viewed as a “must do” event, both for drivers and spectators. Initially held at the Gran Canaria circuit, the ROC has seen dozens of motorsport legends battle it out head to head in iconic cars with thrilling finishes. For the last decade, ROC has been held at prestigious sporting arenas (Beijing’s “Bird Nest” Olympic Stadium, Paris’ Stade De France and London’s Wembley Stadium). Bushy Park signals a return of ROC to a racing circuit, and I can’t fault their venue choice…can you?



 

 

The Race of Champions isn’t just your ordinary motorsport event. Actually, there’s nothing ordinary about it. It’s a combination of the excitement and passion of the World Cup, and the flair and celebrity buzz of an All-Star Game. Just to give you an idea of how star-studded the ROC is, drivers from X-Games, Moto GP, Le Mans, Nascar, Indy Car, Touring Car, World Rally and Formula 1 will compete head to head. Now here is where it gets interesting: in each race both drivers will drive the same car, there will be 5 or 6 cars, and to be the overall champion, the winner must win in as many cars as possible. ROC races are usually very close, so it all comes down to the driver’s ability. I mentioned that the drivers compete head – to – head. ROC’s track comprises 2 parallel lanes with a crossover bridge (a la Vaucluse Raceway). That means that even further development will be done to the track at Bushy Park. What’s also interesting to note is Michele Mouton said “The speeds we are going to see are very high because of the straights, so we can expect some very fast races.”

 


 



The first day of ROC sees the team competition. Each country represented will have two drivers. Not to be left out, Barbados will have 2 representatives as well. Just who those drivers are, is yet to be determined. Details surrounding that will be made available within the coming weeks. There’s also quite a bit of value added content to the ROC spectacle, some of which carries on after the event itself. You’d imagine that the clubhouse or VIP seats would be the best in the house, right? Well ROC sees your VIP seats and raises you an actual seat in a race car during an actual race! That’s right, lucky spectators will have the chance of riding along during races. It gets better…I kid you not. Have you ever wished you could drive the same car as one of your racing heroes and see how your time stacked up against theirs? ROC will have a Skills challenge course, specially designed to test your driving skills. You will face chicanes, slaloms, 180˚ and 360˚ turns and parallel parking. By the way, you’ll have the added motivation (or is it pressure?) of trying to beat the times set by the ROC drivers. The excitement of the ROC will linger on at Bushy Park long after December 14th. How so? Some of the cars from the event will stay here, so that fans can participate in the ROC Driving Experience, using both the parallel track and the Skills Challenge course.

 


Kudos must be given to everyone involved with Barbados securing the hosting the 2014 Race of Champions. It’s a major boost for the island, with regard to the economy and the sports tourism product. The early start to the official tourist season will see increased airlift, and with it, an increase in direct and indirect tourism-related activity. With the live television broadcast, millions of viewers will be exposed to Barbados and what it has to offer. Further to that, the memories which will be created will last a lifetime. Having opened in May with the Top Gear Festival, closing out the year with the Race of Champions is a massive achievement – a Christmas gift, of sorts. One thing is for certain, I won’t be missing it, and neither should you.

 

 

Frank Kelly and Baby Blue meet Bajan Tarmac!

2014/05/30th
Article by:Glenn Beckles
See the full album of pictures here
:

Irishmen and Sol Rally Barbados seem to be the perfect match, as Frank Kelly is finding out. He is yet another to be added to the list of those who have made the journey across the Atlantic to entertain the thousands of fans who come out to spectate. Co-driven by Trinidadian Robert Cadiz in his Ford Escort MKII (dubbed “Baby Blue”) Frank gives us some insight into how he ended up doing Sol Rally Barbados and what fans can look forward to from Car 19 over the next three days.

Just what persuaded Frank Kelly to venture to our shores and slippery tarmac stages? “It was on the bucket list. It started off two years ago, we thought about competing in Barbados. Way back in the 90s Kenny McKinstry came here and one of our local television programmes RPM did a whole segment on it, so I was aware of the rally. Then Robert Cadiz got in touch with us, and tried to see if we could do Rally Trinidad, so it all came together. We’ll do the Caribbean tour this year, so here we are. I’ve built a new car at home, so I’ve been able to keep my sponsors at home happy being able to do the championship at home and still having this car here.” A Caribbean tour?  Does that mean he’ll be gracing the stages in Jamaica as well? “I don’t think we’ll do Rally Jamaica. We haven’t approached them or they haven’t approached us, so it’s unlikely. Robert was brilliant with Rally Trinidad. He did all the work and made it very easy for us and Sol Rally Barbados was so organised for overseas competitors. It’s an easy thing to do, all of the information is on the website. We are open to the idea of competing in Jamaica. As you can see, the car’s up for sale. If it’s sold here in Barbados, well that’s that. If it isn’t, we’d consider Jamaica.”

Scotiabank King of The Hill was Frank’s first taste of the Bajan rally experience. He had done his homework and had been advised about our slippery tarmac. How was the event on a whole for him? “It was nerve-racking! I don’t usually get nervous in a rally car. I’ve been doing it long enough and know the car well enough not to get nervous but this time the nerves were on edge. ‘The Hill’ is something you need to know. I don’t have a good memory, so we went by our notes. I was being careful, so I didn’t get to put on the show that I really wanted to put on. I was wary that we have a limited amount of spares with us, so I’m trying to save it for the main rally. As the rally goes on and we make it to Bushy Park, I hope to put on a proper, proper show. I really enjoyed King of the Hill. The pace of the two-wheel drive cars here is lightning! I was prepared for it, everybody had warned me. I was pleased with our times and the result that we got, so I’m happy to go into the rally with enough ammunition.”

Speaking of ammunition, “Baby Blue” is a fairly potent machine. Whether you’ve seen the in-car footage or seen it live, you’ll know it’s not your average Escort. “Well we were actually changed in class at scrutineering. The car weighed in at 1 093kg and the engine size is 2 493cc, so that put us in SM11. I don’t mind what class I’m in, because you’re basically fighting all of the two-wheel drives anyway. The car itself is basically a 2.5 Vauxhall engine Ford Escort, full Grade 4 specification, 6-speed sequential gearbox, fully floating axle, remote canister suspension, 15 inch wheels and race brakes. It’s a really well put together car, ‘Baby Blue’ is her name and she does the business.” To think this car is actually for sale is unbelievable. It might not be such a bad idea if a local buys it, so that we can get to see Baby Blue all year round.  

Overseas competitors are always left in awe of the enthusiasm and sheer numbers of the local crowds that come out to cheer them on. Frank is no exception to this fact and truly appreciates it. “It’s fantastic! At King of The Hill my main thing was not to look at the crowd because I’ve done that before and ended up doing something really, really stupid. I had to concentrate and not look up, which was annoying. However on our last run on Sunday I had a couple of peeks up and I couldn’t believe the amount of people that were there but I quickly got my eyes back on the road. It’s fantastic to see that support. Everybody told me how keen the Bajans are on rallying and that was very true: there was no exaggeration there.” With that in mind, what can the crowds expect from Frank Kelly and “Baby Blue” over the next 3 days? “Well, probably a cautious start, it looks like you really have to get through Saturday…the stages are a little bit rougher. Sunday’s stages look fantastic and I want to get there with the car ready to deliver some action. The number one thing is to put on a good show. While I don’t intend on doing much in the way of donuts because I’d lose a lot of time, my natural style is to drive sideways. It’s the way I drive and I can’t really change that. So I can’t see any reason to try to make it any different.” I think I just heard a resounding thud from the stamp of approval.

It seems to be a case of so far, so good for Frank Kelly. Will he return? “Ask me that on Sunday evening. Right now, I’d love to come back. We have a rally to do and the financial situation isn’t easy – I’m not a millionaire by any means, so we’ll see. If everything goes well I’d love to come back. The Red265 Rally Media team wishes Frank and Robert the best of luck over the next 3 days of Sol Rally Barbados. You can also look out for a follow-up with them after the event. Don’t forget to stay tuned via Facebook and Twitter for updates. Be safe, listen to the marshals and security personnel and leave the fast driving for the rally cars. Enjoy the epicness that is Sol Rally Barbados.

 

 

'Josh Read Racing, Ready for 2014'

2014/03/21st
Article by:Glenn Beckles
See the full album of pictures here :



Josh Read is one of this island’s top young drivers, and his rapid Toyota Starlet is one of the most popular rally cars. As the 2014 rally season is just days away from getting started, Josh was doing some testing and the Red265 Rally Media Team were given the chance to do an exclusive. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
   
In 2013, Josh and his machine set tongues wagging with some incredible driving displays, racking up group wins along the way.  It was no walk in the park though, as he was made to fight every step of the way. “Last year was great! I had some of the closest battles I have ever experienced before. Some of these ended with split seconds separating first and second place; in some cases first to third! I am always glad for the competition and hope it remains as exciting for 2014. We also won the highest place two -wheel drive for the first time, this is something which I have wanted to achieve for a while now, so needless to say, I was happy that all the hard work paid off.” This was by no means a solo effort on Josh’s part. As we all know, it takes a total team effort when it comes to motorsport. “All of what I mentioned would not have been possible without the help and support from my family, friends and pit crew so a big thanks to them all.”

Competing in the powder keg that is Supermodified 10, Josh has some fierce competition whenever the timing beam is tripped.  Last year, Neil Armstrong took a departure from this group to compete in the WRC class, and some fans dream of seeing the two rekindling their rivalry.  It goes much deeper than two talented drivers fighting for every tenth, but from a petrolhead’s point of view, it presents the perfect battle:  20valve vs. 16 valve; rear wheel drive vs. front wheel drive. Does Josh miss his battles with Neil or does he have his hands full battling the other drivers in SM10? “I wouldn't say that I miss him as there is great camaraderie in the two-wheel drive honors battle now, however, the more the merrier. I know that when he stopped competing in the Starlet he was the two-wheel drive benchmark. Unfortunately by the time I settled into my 1800cc engine he had already moved into the WRC group. Perhaps one day we will compete against each other again, and I'm sure that as before, despite who wins we will have a ball getting to the end together!” With regard to the aforementioned drivers Josh will be doing battle with, where does he see his main competition coming from? “Currently I would say my main rivals are Ian Warren and Roger Mayers, we are all in the same group and often have epic battles. Hopefully by the end of this year I can add Stuart Maloney to this list also. There are a few others outside of my group who we also gauge ourselves off of, like Roger Hill and Rhett Watson.”

It’s a common practice for drivers to upgrade various components of their cars in the off-season.  This year, however, Josh has opted not to go that route. “No major changes for 2014. We focused on the preventative maintenance side of things this time around, by rebuilding and refreshing existing components. We are still expecting to improve our times this year despite this.”  Even though the general idea is to approach is to take each event as it comes, each driver has a goal for the season as a whole. Here’s what Josh has targeted for 2014: “My goals are to finish the season, finishing in first place would be an added bonus. As always I will work to improve my driving and try to get all I can from the car.” Zeroing in on SOL Rally Barbados, Josh highlights that a slight change of approach is needed if you’re going to be in the final reckoning.  “My approach to Rally Barbados 2014 will be similar to that of 2013. Our goal is to win the group and come in the top 10 overall. At one time I might have said that consistency is all it takes to achieve this, however, that isn't enough anymore…you now have to be consistently flat out!!” It was recently announced that Sol Rally Barbados will now have a Friday night start, much like WRC events. Spectators are excited by that prospect, but how is it viewed from a competitor’s standpoint?  “I think the Friday night start will spark some new interest for sure, it's different to the previous editions of Rally Barbados and I am certainly looking forward to it.”



Josh read is all set to make his mark on the 2014 season.  His Starlet has come a long way from the mild-mannered daily driver it used to be. Is its current form the last in its evolution?  “No, the Starlet has much more development left in it, mainly in the engine and suspension. These are areas which I hope to get to at some point in the future, however, these are all hinged on the budget we have to work within and the economic climate has made this even more challenging within the past few years. With that said I have to thank my sponsors who are with me for the 2014 season, without whom a full season might not have been possible; Stihl, Gliptone Car Care Products, Hankook Tyres, Weetabix, Royal Purple Synthetic Oil, Coffee Bean and EZone.” Red265 Rally Media wishes Josh Read and his team all the best for the 2014 season and thanks them for taking the time out to grant us an all access pass to their pre-season testing.