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Bourne's First Gravel Win in Focus
Virgin Atlantic BRC Championship goes down to the wire

Paul Bourne and Stuart Maloney won the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) Autumn Gravel Stages in the Banks/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford Focus WRC07 on Sunday (October 18), moving one step closer to claiming the 2009 Virgin Atlantic BRC Driver's Championship; in his first outing on the loose with the ex-works Focus, Bourne was fastest on all eight stages, building his advantage to nearly 30 seconds by close of play. Second place for Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Esso/Nassco/ Motormac Toyota Corolla WRC) keeps the Championship alive to the final round in two weeks time, however; the runners-up had enjoyed a monumental battle with Trevor Manning and Derek Edwards in the All Terrain Plus/Cellate Caribbean/Garbage Master/Bess Block Ford Escort WRC.

Manning was faster than Hill on three of the morning's four stages, leading by more than four seconds at lunch, then adding a further second to his advantage on the first afternoon stage; Hill fought back on the second run, chipping half-a second off the gap, but Manning was about to lose the edge, as the Escort developed a misfire. Having worked to cure the problem at service, Manning was just over one second adrift going into the final run, but the misfire persisted, dropping him nearly 7secs behind.

It was a tough day for competitors; the stage was run four times from Yorkshire to Searles in the morning, with four more runs after the lunch halt in the reverse direction, which competitors reported was not so flowing as in the morning. With 30 or so corners in a distance of under five kilometres, there was little respite, but the tight layout was ideal for the hundreds of spectators who turned out, with up to seven cars on the stage at one time. Despite starting 15 minutes late, that time had been made up by the lunch break, while the afternoon's final stage started around 20 minutes early, as organisers worked to reward the support of spectators by keeping the action fast and furious.

Another superb battle, for fourth place, was fought out by Barry Gale/Cherie Edghill and Neil Armstrong/Alan Bayne, both crews Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI-mounted; their times were closely matched all day - on the opening stage, both made errors, although Armstrong's cost him 3.3secs more than Gale's. Thereafter, their times were usually only tenths apart – they even set identical times on the morning's third stage – until the final two stages, when first Gale, then Armstrong took two seconds off his opponent. They ended the day 3.8secs apart, most of that margin down to the incidents on stage one!

Group N provided some entertainment, too: although Geoff Noel/ Kreigg Yearwood (Evo IX) maintained their consistent record for the season, Noel fastest on six of the eight stages, it was the battle behind, between the Subari Imprezas of Harold Morley/Geoff Goddard and Dean Serrao/Michael Worme which was attracting attention. Although the more experienced Morley was faster than Serrao on only three of the five stages, he bettered the relative newcomer by greater margins, so finished second in Group N, beating Serrao by 2.4secs; that said, Serrao was fastest of the three on the final two stages of the day. Competition in the Group is certainly warming up.

All the leading two-wheel-drive contenders were in trouble one way or another, Nick Gill (Mazda 3) with a weird combination of over- charging and a flat battery and Jonathan Still (BMW M3) with his second diff failure in two days, while Ian Warren (Suzuki Swift) dropped out of the overall reckoning, OTL for the last morning stage.

A number of others fell by the wayside, including George Gabriel (Toyota Starlet) done for the day after five stages, with his gearbox hanging down, while Edward Corbin (Daihatsu Charmant) continued to take the Modified 6 win after fitting a new gearbox. Roger Skeete completely missed the much-anticipated showdown with Bourne, Hill and Manning after suspension delivered for his Impreza WRC S12 did not fit, although he was on hand to watch son Dane set some respectable times in his Peugeot 106, beating a handful of cars from higher classes.

Their final round of the Virgin Atlantic Driver's and Class Championships is the BRC Winter Rally, over the weekend of October 31/ November 1.

BRC Autumn Gravel Stages –
Sunday, October 18 Provisional results

1st Paul Bourne/Stuart Maloney (M8-WRC Banks/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford
Focus WRC07), 27m 26.68s
2nd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (M8-WRC Esso/Nassco/Motormac Toyota
Corolla WRC), 28m 05.63s
3rd Trevor Manning/Derek Edwards (M8-WRC All Terrain Plus/Cellate
Caribbean/Garbage Master/Bess Block Ford Escort WRC), 28m 12.08s
4th Barry Gale/Cherie Edghill (M8-WRC Autolink/VP Racing/Bella Beauty
Supply/Pro Pac Dog Food Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), 28m 46.30s
5th Neil Armstrong/Alan Bayne (M8-A Simpson Motors/Hankook Tyres/Shell
V-Power/Gunk Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI), 28m 50.12s
6th Geoffrey Noel/Kreigg Yearwood (P4 Globe Finance/DeWalt Tools/Essco/
Sunbeach/Automotive Art Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 29m 39.46s
7th Harold Morley/Geoff Goddard (P4 Subaru Impreza N14), 29m 43.20s
8th Dean Serrao/Michael Worme (P4 Amalgamated Security/Coconut Car
Rentals/Lucky Games Inc Subaru Impreza N12), 29m 45.60s
9th Nicholas Gill/Sue Rogers (SM11 SDRR/Glassfibre Products/Castrol/
Barb's Bikinis Mazda 3), 30m 40.04s
10th Rhett Watson/Logan Watson (SM10 The Unknown Entity/MQI Collision
Repair Centre/Toshiba/Office Solutions & Supplies/Corbz Workz/Castrol
Ford Escort MkI), 31m 22.77s

Modified 8-WRC: 1st Bourne/Maloney; 2nd Hill/Gittens; 3rd Manning/
Edwards; etc
M8-A 1st Armstrong/Bayne
Production 4: 1st Noel/Yearwood; 2nd Morley/Goddard; 3rd Serrao/Worme
SuperModified 11: 1st Gill/Rogers; 2nd Jonathan Still/Matthew Staffner
(Hitachi Power Tools/Ocean Spray/Philips Lighting/Crane & Equipments/
Little Switzerland BMW M3), 34m 35.67s
SM10: 1st Ian Warren/Robert Warren (Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors/
Automotive Art Suzuki Swift), 30m 02.36s; 2nd Watson/Watson
SM9: 1st James Betts/Johnathan Gonsalves (All Terrain Plus/Cellate
Caribbean/Makita/Black Bess/Yamaha/Champion Auto/Quik Start Auto/
Kendal Sporting Opel Corsa), 31m 27.49s; 2nd Josh Read/Mark Jordan
(Automotive Art Toyota Starlet), 32m 06.41s; 3rd Neil Corbin/Aaron
Kirton (Nassco/Jason Jones/Auto Solutions Toyota Starlet), 32m 54.99s;
M7: 1st Freddie Gale/Kyle Proverbs (Gale’s Hatcheries/Nassco/VP Racing/
Workz Mechanical Services Toyota Corolla RunX), 32m 46.42s; 2nd John
Corbin/Owen Proverbs (Corbins Garage/Klark-Odio/Automotive Art Toyota
Corolla), 34m 38.91s
M6: 1st Edward Corbin/Rodney Clarke (Automotive Art/Klark-Odio/Corbins
Garage/JVM Signage Daihatsu Charmant), 32m 12.24s; 2nd Jamal
Brathwaite/Ziad Kazan (AM Electrical Solutions/Arthur Construction/
Arthur Lifting and Freighting/Ellesmere Quarries/Chicken Pen Racing/D2
Racing Suspension Mitsubishi Mirage), 32m 58.36s; 3rd Chris Williams/
Reuben Nelson (Chris’s Workshop/Sunbury Plantation House/Barbados
Paragliding Association Ford Fiesta), 34m 46.00s
P2: Dane Skeete/Tyler Mayhew (P2 Peugeot 106), 33m 40.31s

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