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Vaucluse Raceway RallySprint Cup Rnd 3,
Vaucluse, St. Thomas,
Sun, Jun 20, 2004
Intro Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
News From The Vaucluse Raceway Motor Sports Club
Bourne Breaks Vaucluse Track Record
Action-packed day as newcomers shine

Driving the Banks/Havoline/Williams Industries/Pirelli Subaru Impreza WRC, Paul 'Surfer' Bourne (right) smashed the track record at the Vaucluse Raceway on Sunday (June 20), his achievement just one of the highlights of an action-packed third round of the 2004 VRW RallySprint Cup.

Recent light and regular rain showers had helped the Raceway management in creating near-perfect track conditions, and Bourne signalled his intentions from early; his first-run qualifying time of 2m 08.79s - more than 3secs quicker than anyone else - was good enough to slot into the all-time top 10 fastest and, as the Vaucluse track always gets faster during the day, a new record looked possible.

Bourne's target was the 2m 05.64s set in 2002 by Trevor Manning, who was sidelined on Sunday following some problems with the on-board computer in his new Mitsubishi Evo VIII. On his third qualifying run, Bourne clocked 2m 05.51s, but felt there was still more to come.

It wasn't only Bourne who was reeling off quick times . . . by the end of qualifying, Barry Gale (2m 08.13s), Roger Skeete (2m 08.66s) and Geoffrey Noel (2m 09.62s) had all broken the 2m 10s barrier, while many other drivers had recorded their best-ever time at the track.

And the pace got even hotter once the head-to-head knockout runs started in the afternoon. Bourne defeated Roger Hill (Mobil 1/Nassco/Michelin/Motormac Toyota Celica GT4) in the first heat of his Group, while Skeete (Havoline/McEnearney Quality/Michelin Ford Escort WRC) put out Sean Dowding (Pro Pac/Globe Finance Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V) in the other. In a sensational final, Bourne was the winner, bringing the record down to 2m 03.92s . . . but that still wasn't the end!

After his KnockOut Handicap run-off against Gale (Automotive Art/Courts/Kerridge/Yokohama/Simpson Motors Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), 'Surfer' ended the day with a new record of 2m 03.30s; he failed to win the run-off, though, Gale beating him to the line and clocking 2m 06.86s, a very impressive time for a Group N car.

But Sunday was not only about fast times. The healthy entry of 38 drivers included a number of new faces, and a couple of well-known names - Hill and Cliff Roett - who were returning to VRW after a couple of years' absence.

Logan WatsonOf the newcomers, the star of the day was Logan Watson (right), who was sharing the Tropical Landscapes Ford Escort RS2000 with elder brother Rhett, who had already gained some experience of Vaucluse. Logan started steadily, and was around 4secs slower than his brother by the end of qualifying.

While Rhett (right) finished third in his Group, Logan won his, first defeating Mark Sabga's Volkswagen Beetle, then benefiting from the retirement of Graham Manning (Ford Cortina MkI) in the final. But Logan hadn't finished yet . . . in the Group Winners' Handicap KnockOut, he first beat Reggie Gill, then became the beneficiary of one of the strangest sequences of bad luck a rally team could ever experience.

Each of the three Simpson Motors Rally Team drivers at Vaucluse won his Group - Neil Barnard (Opel Corsa), Sean Gill (Suzuki Ignis) and Gale, but none would survive the Handicap. First, Gill was beaten by team-mate Barnard, when the differential of the Ignis failed.

Next, Gale (left) crashed heavily into the start lights and concrete barriers on the startline . . . although badly shaken, Gale was uninjured, but his Evo VI will require a fair amount of attention before its next outing. His retirement handed Logan Watson the victory, and a ticket to the final to face . . . Barnard. And it all looked set to go Barnard's way, until the power steering belt failed, and the Corsa retired to the pits . . . leaving Watson the overall handicap winner for the day!

Another impressive debut came from Sean Corbin, who won the Production Group in his Toyota Starlet, beating his brother Ryan (Peugeot 106XSi), another Vaucluse debutante Joshua Delmas (Toyota Starlet) and Stephen Moore (Datsun B510).

The returning Roett was also very impressive, getting below 2m 10s in his Toyota Starlet on his way to Group victory, defeating yet another newcomer, Mark Hamilton (Esso/Automotive Art/McEnearney Quality Ford Escort MkII).

Hamilton has not competed since the 2001 Texaco Rally, and was driving his recently-acquired Escort in anger for the first time (right). By lunchtime, he had a best time of 1m 16.59s, but his day nearly came to an early end, when he stalled on the start pad in the second heat of his Group. His opponent, Hally Holder driving Mark Sabga's Beetle, was long gone by the time Hamilton persuaded the Escort to start . . . afterwards, Hamilton said: "The engine stalled, then I had my foot hard down so flooded it, then I said 'calm, Mark', counted to three and tried again. When the car fired, I just thought back to the time difference in qualifying and realised that I could catch him, if I just kept my head."

And keep his head he did. In what looked more like a handicap race, Hamilton steadily closed on the Beetle to claim a memorable win, and the Banks Pig'n'Likka Bar 100-dollar prize for the most entertaining drive of the day . . . on a day of motor sport which gave race drivers and fans alike many moments to remember.

There are two more rounds of the Vaucluse Raceway RallySprint Cup, on July 11 and August 8.

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