Anyone's race

Daryl Clarke leads the championship.

For the front-runners battling for the prestigious champion driver title in the Barbados Rally Club’s Virgin Atlantic Championship, it is all hands on deck for this Sunday’s BRC Autumn Gravel Sprint, a double-header at the popular Black Bess, St. Peter course.

At a time of year when some classes are not fully-subscribed, resulting in a lower points haul for those competitors who do turn out, ensuring the minimum three starters is vital for those who stand a chance of claiming the big prize. And that can be even more difficult in a one-day double-header, where a fully-subscribed class in the morning might lose a car or two for the afternoon, with limited time to effect repairs.

The top six contenders for the BRC title are all on Sunday’s entry list, and all but one in a fully-subscribed class. With each dropping the lowest score for the season, only 16 points separate championship leader Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic) and sixth-placed Jeremy Croney (Peugeot 206), respectively the leaders of the Modified 7 and Clubman classes.

As only one other competitor is entered in Clubman – the BRC’s only female driver Shannon Kirton is on the list – Croney is at a disadvantage, while Clarke and the other front-runners should be able to score maximum points.

After a score is dropped from each driver’s current total, Clarke leads the standings with 113 points, from Logan Watson (SuperModified 11 BMW M3) on 110, with Neil Corbin (M6 Toyota Starlet) third on 108, reigning champion Geoff Noel (Production 4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) fourth on 107 and Paul Bourne (M8-WRC Ford Focus WRC07) fifth on 101, four points ahead of Croney.

With three runs in each direction of the three-kilometre Black Bess course on Sunday, the BRC Autumn Gravel Sprint could prove to be the turning point of this year’s Virgin Atlantic Championship, particularly if there is attrition in those classes which are starting the day with just three entries. Competitors are expected to arrive for scrutineering on Sunday by 8 a.m., with the event slated for a 9.30 a.m. start. As before, service will be on the grassy area under the trees on the western approach to Mangrove Plantation.

After a drive-through to allow competitors to see the course, there will be one practice run, followed by three officially timed runs before lunch – almost certainly, the morning runs will be from west to east.

Following a one-hour break, a second run-through is planned, as various stage furniture such as chicanes will have been moved, after which there will be a further practice run and three official runs in the opposite direction. (PR)

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