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Bourne and Noel Win Rally Club Titles
Dramatic finale to Virgin Atlantic Championships

The curtain came down on the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) Virgin Atlantic BRC Driver's and Class Championships in dramatic fashion on Sunday (November 1). Victory by a margin of 13.6 seconds in the BRC Winter Rally clinched the Driver's Championship for Paul Bourne (Banks/ LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford Focus WRC07), while Geoff Noel (Globe Finance/DeWalt Tools/Essco/Sunbeach/Automotive Art Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) is the Overall Class Champion.

The 12 stages were split into three loops, starting with four runs from Yorkshire to Searles; with the stage fresh in his mind from the recent Autumn Gravel Stages, Bourne set a fast pace – by the end of the loop, he was 19secs ahead, although a determined Roger Skeete was the faster of the two on the fourth run, within six-tenths of Bourne's best, and clearly enjoying his first outing on gravel in the Michelin/ Da Costa Mannings Auto Centre/Warrens Motors Subaru Impreza WRC S12.

When the battle switched to the shorter stage from Cliff to Guinea, a more level playing field as neither driver had tackled it in his current car, Skeete set the pace; fastest on all four runs, beating Bourne's best time by more than two seconds, Skeete was back within 12secs of the leader when they returned to Searles.

Aware that Skeete was chipping away at his lead, Bourne fought back, faster on the first three, although Skeete would set the fastest reverse-direction time from Searles to Yorkshire on the final stage of the day, just under 1sec better than Bourne's best.

Behind these two, Roger Hill (Esso/Nassco/Motormac Toyota Corolla WRC) and Trevor Manning (All Terrain Plus/Cellate Caribbean/Garbage Master/Bess Block Ford Escort WRC) enjoyed a repeat of their hard- fought struggle of last month. Manning was the faster out of the box, winning the first four stages to open up a lead of nearly 8secs, helped in part by Hill attacking a pair of palm trees on stage four.

Palm Tree Attack

Thereafter, Hill staged an impressive fight-back, taking more than 3secs off Manning on the first Guinea run, then picking up a second here, a few tenths there until he eased ahead by one-hundredth of a second after stage 10. The gap grew to 13/100ths after the penultimate stage, but that is where the battle ended, as the Escort's turbo blew on the way to the final stage start, robbing Manning of a possible last-ditch recovery.

And Manning was not the only driver facing challenges on the day: the much-anticipated battle of the Evos between Neil Armstrong and Barry Gale lasted only five stages before Gale retired with gearbox failure when ahead by a couple of seconds, but even more dramas were to befall Noel, who was leading the chase for the prestigious Overall Class Champion title before the weekend.

Already at a disadvantage to Edward Corbin (Daihatsu Charmant) and Jonathan Still (BMW M3), as Modified 6 and SuperModified 11 were both fully subscribed – that meant a possible 21 points for them, but just 17 for him, with Harold Morley (Impreza N14) the only other Group N entry – Noel's consistent season ended in a real cliff-hanger.

Suffering from very low grip on stage one - Noel almost crashed at the jump – the Evo's transmission started to fail shortly after, then an off on the final Guinea stage cost 34secs and a broken windscreen; despite beating Morley on nine of the 12 stages, he finished class second by 13secs, resulting in a tie on 198 points with M6 winner Corbin.

The Club's tie-break rule is based on the driver with the higher number of wins, second places and so forth . . . and, with 11 wins to Corbin's 10, Noel claims the title; sadly for Corbin, it is the second time he has lost the overall title to a tie-break, Sean Gill having got the nod in 2003, the first year of Corbin's hat-trick of M7 class titles, under the previous rules, which settled tie-breaks in favour of the driver from the lower class.

Honours for the highest-placed two-wheel-drive runner on Sunday went to the Suzuki Swift of Ian Warren, finishing fifth overall, ahead of both Group N cars, and the only SM10 entry still running at the finishing, after the retirements of Rhett Watson (Ford Escort MkI) early on and Eric Allamby (Mitsubishi Lancer) two stages from home.

Having lost out to Nicholas Gill (Mazda 3) two weeks ago, Still prevailed this time round in SM11, after Gill lost well over a minute with driveshaft problems early in the day; this worked in Still's favour – even though Gill was flying on the later stages, and Still had a broken front shock, which could have stopped the car at any time, his crew carefully calculated the time to the Mazda and a good team effort got him through.

BRC Winter Rally – Sunday, November 1
Provisional results

1st Paul Bourne/Stuart Maloney (M8-WRC Banks/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford 
Focus WRC07), 35m 15.84s
2nd Roger Skeete/Louis Venezia (M8-WRC Michelin/Da Costa Mannings Auto 
Centre/Warrens Motors Subaru Impreza WRC S12), 35m 29.44s
3rd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (M8-WRC Esso/Nassco/Motormac Toyota 
Corolla WRC), 36m 24.01s
4th Neil Armstrong/Barry Ward (M8-A Simpson Motors/Hankook Tyres/Shell 
V-Power/Gunk Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), 37m 23.13s
5th Ian Warren/Robert Warren (SM10 Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors/
Automotive Art Suzuki Swift), 39m 05.58s
6th Harold Morley/Geoff Goddard (P4 Subaru Impreza N14), 39m 06.25s
7th Geoffrey Noel/Kreigg Yearwood (P4 Globe Finance/DeWalt Tools/Essco/
Sunbeach/Automotive Art Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 39m 19.38s
8th Jonathan Still/Matthew Staffner (SM11 Hitachi Power Tools/Ocean 
Spray/Philips Lighting/Crane & Equipments/Little Switzerland BMW M3), 
41m 26.92s
9th Neil Corbin/Aaron Kirton (SM9 Nassco/Jason Jones/Auto Solutions 
Toyota Starlet), 41m 36.95s
10th Edward Corbin/Paul Bourne (M6 Automotive Art/Klark-Odio/Corbins 
Garage/JVM Signage Daihatsu Charmant), 42m 11.59s

Modified 8-WRC: 1st Bourne/Maloney; 2nd Skeete/Venezia; 3rd Hill/
Gittens; etc
M8-A 1st Armstrong/Ward
Production 4: 1st Morley/Goddard; 2nd Noel/Yearwood
SuperModified 11: 1st Still/ Staffner; 2nd Nicholas Gill/Sue Rogers 
(SDRR/Glassfibre Products/Castrol/Barb's Bikinis Mazda 3), 42m 40.78s; 
3rd Graham Manning/Ryan Farmer (Ford Escort MkII), 57m 44.23s
SM10: 1st Warren/Warren; 2nd Eric Allamby/Zach Heaselgrave (Shelbury 
Construction/Container Services/Castrol/ACT Sandblasting Mitsubishi 
Lancer), 52m 17.13s
SM9: 1st Corbin/Kirton
M7: 1st Freddie Gale/Kyle Proverbs (Gale's Hatcheries/Nassco/VP Racing/
Workz Mechanical Services Toyota Corolla RunX), 42m 55.87s; 2nd John 
Corbin/Owen Proverbs (Corbins Garage/Klark-Odio/Automotive Art Toyota 
Corolla), 45m 46.70s
M6: 1st Corbin/Bourne; 2nd Jamal Brathwaite/Ziad Kazan (AM Electrical 
Solutions/Arthur Construction/Arthur Lifting and Freighting/Ellesmere 
Quarries/Chicken Pen Racing/D2 Racing Suspension Mitsubishi Mirage), 
47m 45.88s

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