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Meeke Doubtful for Sol Rally Barbados
Perez picks up win after Bird picks up punctures

Fresh from victory in last weekend's Rally Internacional de Curitiba in Brazil, Ulstermen Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle have cast serious doubts on their chances of returning to attempt a hat-trick of wins on Sol Rally Barbados (May 29/30), which celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) International All-Stage Rally.

Nagle told the recently-launched web site that they will almost certainly be unable to make it, because of the close proximity of the recce for Rally d'Italia-Sardegna, the fourth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), which takes place the following weekend (June 4-6).

He told reporter Charlie Contadeli: "There's just no way we could do the rally and be ready for the start of the recce in Sardinia, because they're just one week apart. It's not great, because it's a great event, but Kris and I know our priority is the IRC."

Meeke's victory in the Kronos Racing-run Peugeot UK-backed 207 Super 2000 was his second in the two-day gravel rally in Brazil, and his fifth in the IRC, marking a new IRC record. With two of the 12 rounds run, reigning IRC Champion Meeke is equal third with Ford's Mikko Hirvonen in the standings, trailing Skoda drivers Guy Wilks and current leader Juho Hanninen by one and four points respectively; Peugeot lies seven points behind Skoda in the manufacturer standings.

Meeke and Nagle have won Sol Rally Barbados for the past two years, first in a Toyota Corolla WRC, then last year in a Subaru Impreza WRC S9; British crew Paul Bird and Ian Windress finished second (Impreza S9 in 2008, Ford Focus WRC 07 in 2009) on both occasions, with third place occupied by Jamaica's Gary Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson (Focus WRC02) in 2008 and by local crew Paul Bourne and Stuart Maloney (Impreza WRC S9) last year.

Sol Rally Barbados Chairman Barry Gale said: "Naturally, it will be disappointing not to see Kris and Paul competing this year, particularly as they have been such a hit with our fans and fellow competitors alike, but changes to the IRC calendar mean their next event is two weeks' closer to ours than it was last year.

"And, on behalf of everyone here, I must say ‘congratulations' to Kris and Paul on their second win in Brazil. Caribbean fans have a habit of ‘adopting' the overseas competitors who come all this way to entertain us, such as Kris and Mark Higgins, and we follow their exploits around the world with great interest."

Perez picks up win after Bird picks up punctures

Rally Barbados regular Steve Perez won the Malcolm Wilson Rally, based in Cockermouth in the north of England on Saturday (March 6), despite losing a minute on the second stage of the day, when he slid off in treacherously icy conditions; with regular Welsh co-driver, Paul Spooner, alongside in the Kick Energy Ford Focus WRC07, his winning margin was 17 seconds.

His second consecutive victory on the event came at the expense of Paul Bird's ambitions to claim a record-breaking fourth win on what is his home event. With Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick, Bird built up a 22-second lead after four stages in the Rockstar Energy/Vent-Axia/ Focus WRC08, as they headed for two tough stages in Grizedale Forest.

In Grizedale North, Bird extend his lead to 41 seconds but, on the penultimate test in Grizedale South, the pair suffered a puncture very early on in the 10-mile stage; not long after, a second puncture proved terminal, and the 2005 National Champion had to limp out of the stage and into retirement.

By then, Perez had battled his way back up to third, which became second following Bird's demise; courtesy of three stage wins in the final four tests, he beat Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart, also in a Focus, by 17 seconds.

Sol Rally Barbados (May 29/30) and Shell V-Power King of the Hill (May 23) are organised by the Barbados Rally Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2007; Sol RB2010 marks the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Club's International All-Stage Rally.