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Bourne wins Summer Nights Tarmac Stages
IT'S official! Paul Bourne and Mark Kinch in the Chefette/LIME/Slam 101/MQI/Banks/Castrol Ford Focus WRC07 were the winners of round seven of the BRC Virgin Atlantic Championship, leading home Roger Skeete and Louis Venezia (Sol/Michelin/Da Costa Mannings Auto Centre/Simpson Motors Subaru Impreza WRC S12) by a margin of 30 seconds in the Barbados Rally Club’s Summer Nights Tarmac Stages.
Bourne, who was fastest on all four stages, and said that everything went well. “I was more bothered with the dark than the wet, perhaps I need some night vision goggles.”
The island’s motor sport volunteers were praised by competitors and organisers this week, following last Saturday’s event, which was run in worsening conditions in the north of the island. However, despite the Club’s best efforts, the event was abandoned after four of the six planned stages.
Afterwards Skeete, who had been suffering from anti-lag and launch control issues, said: “Congrats to Paul Bourne and Mark Kinch; well done in difficult conditions. Even more so to the organisers and marshals, who were standing in the rain from start to finish. At times the rain was horizontal, they must all have been soaked to the skin. We could not go rallying without your considerable efforts. Thanks!”
His comments were echoed by BRC Competition Secretary and Modified 6 winner Neil Corbin, who said: “Thanks to all involved, especially the marshals who braved out the weather, Stage Commander Jeff Bovell and Deputy Michael Hinkson.”
Clerk of the Course Neil Barnard expanded on the reasons for cutting the event short: “First, thanks to all the officials, marshals, Island Constables and security that had to contend with some extremely difficult conditions. Despite the constant drizzle, most marshals were able to function in their posts, but when the rain really started to come down around nine o’clock it became unrealistic for some of them to carry out their functions exposed to the bad weather, and they retreated to their parked vehicles. This created a couple issues of members of the public trying to drive onto the stage.
“Additionally, even though we provided them with raincoats, the start and finish marshals were very exposed, as there were no sides to their tents. To their credit they did not abandon their positions, but there was also a real danger of some of the computer equipment being damaged in both those locations.
“Based on the combination of issues, we decided that the overall situation was becoming somewhat dangerous and we opted to cancel the remaining two stages. As usual, the decision was made with the safety of the travelling public, the spectators and the competitors, in mind, particularly the public.”
Roger Hill (Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC) finished third, with Neil Armstrong fourth, top two-wheel-drive and Super Modified 10 winner in the Chefette/Lubriguard/Hankook Tyres/Nassco/Redline Fuels/ARMAG Rentals Toyota Starlet.
Others to clock top six times included Group N contenders Geoff Noel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Andrew Mallalieu (Impreza N10), who beat Noel by three seconds, SM11 winner Logan Watson (BMW M3) and Virgin Atlantic Championship leader Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic), who finished fifth overall, winning Modified 7.
“The rain suited me as I was getting good grip. We were a second or two off Josh Read and Neil Armstrong, so we were definitely having a good night,” he said.
Read slipped out of the overall running on the final stage, when his Starlet refused to start, apparently with water in the distributor. Up to then, he had been enjoying himself:
“I was cautious because it was the very first time using full wets, but then I found out that I should be even more committed because of the grip generated by the tyres. After the wrecker ride home, the car started without any issue.”
Read’s woes promoted Ralph White (Starlet) to second in SM10, with Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Islands third in his Ford Escort MkI, tackling a Barbados stage in the rain for the first time.
The top 10 was completed by Martin Atwell, who finished just eight seconds behind Watson in the battle for SM11, despite what he described as a “character-building” first experience of his rear-wheel-drive M3 in the wet, and M7 runner-up Adrian Linton, whose slick tyres made for what he called a “challenging and exciting event”.