BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 23, 2008 – Reigning Champion Paul Bourne opened his 2008 account with victory in Sunday’s Automotive Art Shakedown Stages, the first round of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Rally Championship. With regular co-driver Stuart Maloney alongside in his Subaru Impreza WRC S9, he was fastest on all but one of the 11 stages, claiming victory by a comfortable margin of more than one minute.
Two non-starters left the entry at 37 crews, many of whom have good reason to be thankful for the chance to check out their cars in advance of next month’s Rally Barbados; electronic and mechanical gremlins were rife, so workshops will be busy in the coming weeks.
Roger Skeete, with new co-driver Robert Simmons in his Ford Escort WRC, was fastest on the first 4.2-kilometre test of the day from Society to Pool, after Bourne was delayed by a spectator on the stage; thereafter, Skeete could not quite match Bourne’s pace, but was consistently second fastest. His rally came to an abrupt halt, however, when the Escort stalled on the start-line of the third run through the 3.1-kilometre Wilson Hill to Malvern stage and refused to restart.
Having been beaten only by Bourne and Skeete up to that point, the flying Suzuki Swift of Sean Gill and Michael Cummins assumed second place, second fastest to Bourne on all but one of the day’s remaining stages, Gill and Cummins collecting the trophies as highest-placed two-wheel-drive crew. Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Toyota Celica
GT4) finished third, despite a down-on power engine, while Geoff Noel and Kriegg Yearwood (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) recovered from a rather slow start to finish fourth.
The awards for highest-placed crew including a lady went to fifth- placed Nicholas Gill and Sue Rogers, whose Mazda 3 had rarely dropped out of the top six all day, displaying welcome reliability; they also won SuperModified 11, after early leaders Jonathan Still/Heath Hazell (BMW M3) slipped behind in the closing stages, finishing seventh overall. Ian Warren and Matthew Staffner (Peugeot 206) were sixth overall and Modified 6 winners, beating a determined challenge from Edward Corbin and Rodney Clarke (Daihatsu Charmant), who finished ninth overall.
Josh Read and Mark Jordan gave event sponsor Automotive Art a Group win in SM9 Toyota Starlet, finishing eighth overall, while the top 10 was completed by Greg Cozier and Antonio da Silva (Ford Escort RS2000), with their start numbers 13 turned upside down for luck.
Another whose reliability issues are hopefully now a thing of the past is Cliff Roett, whose Toyota Starlet was on song all day; he was regularly in the top 10 stages times, even clocking second fastest to Bourne on the final Malvern of the day. Jason Clermont was a frequent top 10 visitor, too, making good use of the ex-Jonathan Still BMW M3.
It was a day of strife for many other competitors, however. Among them were Neil Armstrong, whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI kept cutting out at speed, Adrian Linton (Vauxhall Astra GSi), who lost an almost certain overall top 10 result to a variety of starter motor, battery and alternator problems, although he did hold on to victory in Modified 7, and Allan Maynard, who retired after rolling his Toyota Starlet late morning.
Spectators turned out in their thousands, a large crowd at the popular Malvern corner showing their appreciation in particular for the driving of Andrew Jones (Ford Escort), Danny Williams (Ford Fiesta) and Ryan Wood (Toyota Starlet) . . . also for Trevor Manning, acting as Zero Car in his rear-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer, whose relatively sedate start was replaced in the afternoon by the more familiar drifting style.
After a final figure-of-eight run round Bushy Park, awards were presented at a Prizegiving in the pits by Automotive Art’s Leslie St John, who joined BRC Chairman Mark Hamilton in thanking the organising team and volunteer marshals for a smoothly-run event; a few minutes lost in the early part of the day had been made up by mid- morning, after which the event ran right on schedule.
Results – overall
– – 1st Paul Bourne/Stuart Maloney (M8-WRC Subaru Impreza WRC S9), 22m 27.87s
2nd Sean Gill/Michael Cummins (SM10 Suzuki Swift), 23m 43.17s
– 3rd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (M8-A Toyota Celica GT4), 23m 56.29s
– 4th Geoff Noel/Kreigg Yearwood (P4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 24m 19.03s
– 5th Nicholas Gill/Sue Rogers (SM11 Mazda 3), 24m 30.92s
– 6th Ian Warren/Matthew Staffner (M6 Peugeot 206), 24m 39.33s
– 7th Jonathan Still/Heath Hazell (SM11 BMW M3), 24m 40.12s
– 8th Josh Read/Mark Jordan (SM9 Toyota Starlet), 25m 38.65s
– 9th Edward Corbin/Rodney Clarke (M6 Daihatsu Charmant), 25m 48.84s
– 10th Greg Cozier/Antonio da Silva (M7 Ford Escort RS2000), 25m 52.12s
– Modified 8-WRC 1st Bourne/Maloney M8-A 1st Hill/Gittens
– Production 4 1st Noel/Yearwood; 2nd Michael Worme/Alex Whitehead (Subaru Impreza), 29m 13.04s – SuperModified 11 1st Gill/Rogers; 2nd Still/Hazell; 3rd Justin Campbell/Jermin Pope (BMW E46), 26m 38.69s SM10 1st Gill/Cummins; 2nd Rhett Watson/Logan Watson (Ford Escort MkI); 3rd Wayne King/Summer Lewis (Peugeot 306), 27m 18.55s
– SM9 1st Read/Jordan; 2nd Stuart White/Brandon McKenzie (Toyota Starlet), 26m 01.08s; 3rd Neil Corbin/Aaron Kirton (Toyota Starlet), 26m 05.09s
– M7 1st Adrian Linton/Jackie Linton (Vauxhall Astra GSi), 25m 46.59s; 2nd Cozier/da Silva; 3rd Freddie Gale/Kyle Proverbs (Toyota Corolla RunX), 26m 02.63s
– M6 1st Warren/Staffner; 2nd Corbin/Clarke; 3rd Shareef Walcott/Juan Watts (Toyota Corolla), 27m 06.94s
– P2 1st Neil Barnard/Barry Hill (Suzuki Ignis Sport), 27m 31.73s