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Bourne Has to Work for Spring Gravel Rally Win
Gale and Noel continue gripping Group N battle

Paul 'Surfer' Bourne extended his lead in the Virgin Atlantic Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Driver's Championship with victory in Sunday's (March 14) BRC Spring Gravel Rally, but he was made to work for it, after a stall on stage two cost him 30 seconds.

Co-driven by Stuart Maloney in the Banks/Chefette/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford Focus WRC07, carrying revised livery front and rear marking a new sponsorship deal with Chefette, Bourne started the day well: he was fastest by 7.3 seconds on the first of the 12 planned stages.

Anticipated to be Bourne's main opposition, both on Sunday and in Rally Trinidad at month-end, John 'Pentti' Powell's attack on the event was short-lived; co-driven by Ryan Wood in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12, Powell was fifth-fastest on stage one then fourth on stage two, before mechanical problems brought his rally to an early end.

And that left Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC) in charge; second to Bourne on stage one, then fastest on stage two, Bourne's stall handed them a lead of just under 32 seconds . . . with 10 stages to run, Hill drove in determined style to stay as close to Bourne as possible.

By the end of the first loop of four longer stages at Searles, Bourne had caught back around 14secs, but Hill still had the upper hand as they headed for the shorter, but fast and spectacular, Guinea stage, where spectators had gathered in large numbers. Bourne was consistently faster and, while Hill improved his time by six seconds over the four runs, Bourne retook the lead after stage eight, albeit by less than one second.

Bourne extended his advantage over stages nine and 10 back at Searles, then the cancellation of the final two runs, in part because of the condition of the stage, gave him a final winning margin of 15secs.

Behind these two, there was another gripping battle between the two leading Group N (Production 4) protagonists; Geoff Noel and Kriegg Yearwood (Globe Finance Inc/Mix 96.9/Sentry Insurance Brokers/Dewalt Tools/Automotive Art/Ezone Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) were faster out of the box, four-tenths ahead after the opening stage.

Barry Gale and Cherie Edghill (ENEOS Lubricants/Autolink/Weetabix/Metal Craft Works/ Beauty Supply Evo IX) fought back on stage two, 1.2secs faster, to lead by just under a second. One further stage win each left the gap at around 2secs after the first loop.

The pattern was repeated at Guinea, Noel the faster on runs one and four, Gale taking the better times in between; Gale had burst a rear shock absorber in the third Guinea, however, and lost time in the final two runs at Searles, leaving him around 7secs behind Noel at the finish.

Dean Serrao and Michael Worme finished fifth, Serrao enjoying vital additional seat time in his ex-Bourne Subaru Impreza WRC S9 before tackling Rally Trinidad; making his first appearance of the year in the Automotive Art/Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift, Ian Warren finished sixth and highest-placed two-wheel-drive runner, with brother Robert co-driving.

BRC Spring Gravel Rally, March 14
Virgin Atlantic BRC Driver's & Class Championships, round 3

1st Paul Bourne/Stuart Maloney (M8-WRC Banks/Chefette/LIME/Virgin Atlantic Ford Focus WRC07), 29m 47.32s
2nd Roger Hill/Graham Gittens (M8-WRC Esso/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Corolla WRC), 30m 02.45s
3rd Geoffrey Noel/Kreigg Yearwood (P4 Globe Finance Inc/Mix 96.9/Sentry Insurance Brokers/Dewalt Tools/Automotive Art/Ezone Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 30m 53.16s
4th Barry Gale/Cherie Edghill (P4 ENEOS Lubricants/Autolink/Weetabix/Metal Craft Works/ Beauty Supply Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), 31m 00.33s
5th Dean Serrao/Michael Worme (M8-WRC Subaru Impreza WRC S9), 32m 00.83s
6th Ian Warren/Robert Warren (SM10 Automotive Art/Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift), 32m 09.26s
7th Mark Hamilton/Clive Howell (SM11 Valvoline Oil/PowerMaster Batteries/Kumho Batteries/Consolidated Finance Ford Escort MkII), 33m 47.06s
8th Edward Corbin/Rodney Clarke (M6 Automotive Art/Klark-Odio/Corbins Garage Daihatsu Charmant), 35m 02.23s
9th Freddie Gale/Kyle Proverbs (M7 Gale's Hatcheries/Redline Fuels/Nassco/ENEOS Lubricants Toyota Corolla RunX), 35m 53.84s
10th Sean Cox/Adam Cox (M6 Simpson Motors Suzuki Swift), 39m 00.26s

Modified 8-WRC – 1st Bourne/Maloney; 2nd Hill/Gittens; 3rd Serrao/Worme
Production 4 – 1st Noel/Yearwood; 2nd Gale/Edghill
SuperModified 11 – 1st Hamilton/Howell
SM10 – 1st Warren/Warren
M7 – 1st Gale/Proverbs
M6 – 1st Corbin/Clarke; 2nd Cox/Cox
P2 – 1st Dane Skeete/Tyler Mayhew (P2 Williams Trading Inc Peugeot 106)

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