BRITISH BROTHERS FOR SOL RALLY BARBADOS
Second-generation British motor sport competitors, brothers Oliver and Philip Hopkins, will both compete in Sol Rally Barbados 2015 (May 29-31), when the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its first International All-Stage Rally … but they will not be sitting in the same car.
Philip is already confirmed as co-driver in Kevin Procter‘s Subaru Impreza WRC S7, in which the pair finished seventh overall and second in WRC-2 last year; younger brother Oliver will campaign his Hopkins Motorsport/Dan Cuff Motor Engineering Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI in Group A, with co-driver Ashley Trimble.
The family’s involvement in motor sport – and the basis of the family business, too – goes back more than 30 years, when father Reg competed in The European Truck Racing Championship. While he raced across Europe, often away from home for weeks at a time, he realised how much of a team’s budget could be saved by replacing expensive hotels and the cost of feeding personnel at race circuits with a purpose-built vehicle.
From their first transporter, designed to move the racing truck and ancillary equipment and to provide accommodation and catering for 10 people, the family business Hopkins Motorsport has developed into one of the leading suppliers of bespoke transporters and hospitality units in British and European motor sport.
While elder brother Philip raced from 1993 in Formula Ford, then in Formula 3 and GTs, with the Bristol-based family creating the transporter necessary to suit each racing programme, Oliver has only recently started to compete: “I always played younger brother to Philip, before I started competing in 2013. I started rallying with Philip as my navigator, and we won our third-ever rally, a single venue event.”
Shortly after, the brothers competed in a tarmac event on the notorious high-speed Epynt Ranges in Wales, where things did not go so well. Oliver explains: “On stage two, we developed a misfire and, as a result of losing concentration and, with limited experience, we rolled four times. We bought a second Evo, with a large spares package to help re-build our original car. During the rebuild I drove the new Evo on the Regency Stages and finished third overall.”
Oliver went back to the venue last year to lay the ghost of his huge accident: “With the old car rebuilt, I returned for the Tour of Epynt, just to conquer my fear. I wanted to go and finish and, with co-driver David Tortoishell, we did – 49th overall.”
In 2014, Ashley Trimble joined Oliver as co-driver, since when top 10 finishes have become the norm. Trimble’s background includes victory in the 2009 Yokohama 205 Challenge as co-driver to Russ Thompson, the runner-up spot in the 2009 MSA REIS Asphalt Rally Championship sitting with Graham Hollis, and a string of overall wins with drivers including Ford Escort aces Simon Mauger and Mark Solloway.
With both Evos now running, the Hopkins brothers competed on the recent Brean Stages (January 24/25), a single-venue tarmac event in Somerset, Philip finishing seventh and Oliver 10th. All was not plain sailing, though, as Oliver explains: “Day one was very challenging, with fierce competition and a very damp slippy course. On stage five we clipped a concrete barrel, which bent a rear wishbone. This slowed us down, as the car was now fantastic on right-hand bends, but sketchy on left-handers. With a new wishbone, day two was better, until we snapped a front drive-shaft on stage 11, when we were eighth. Despite the time lost on the final stage, we finished 10th overall.”