Driving the Chefette/LIME/Slam 101/MQI/Banks/Castrol Ford Focus WRC07, Paul Surfer Bourne recovered from some early drama to snatch a two-second victory on the final stage of the Barbados Rally Club Winter Gravel Rally at the Black Bess course in St. Peter yesterday.
With co-driver David Cossey, Bourne was fastest on the first two stages to build an eight-second lead; a launch control issue on stage three, however, cut the gap by half-a-second, then a spin on stage four left him trailing by eight seconds at lunch.
Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Toyota Corolla WRC) were the crew to benefit from Bourne’s issues, seeing the chance of ending the year with a win. Bourne took two seconds back on the first reverse direction stage after lunch, but then lost those seconds when he stalled next time out. A real charge on stage seven of eight brought him to within four seconds of Hill, then an all-out effort on the last test of the day – faster by nearly six seconds – led to victory by 1.9 seconds.
“Today was a good birthday rally. I had trouble with the launch control from stage three and a spin on stage four, which meant I had to change approach after lunch to a full-out attack to re-take the lead I handed to Roger. A start-line stall didn’t help the cause, but it was a good finish to add some spice to the day,” Bourne said.
Behind the overall battle, Britain’s Rob Swann enjoyed his outing in Andrew Mallalieu’s Group N Subaru Impreza N10: fifth fastest on the day’s opening stage – his first on gravel in Barbados – he soon got into his stride, beating the only Group N opposition, Geoff Noel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI), on all seven remaining stages, to win the class by 21 seconds. He also benefited from a 30-second penalty applied to Dean Serrao (M8-WRC Impreza WRC S9) to finish the day third overall.
“Originally, I was coming to co-drive, but Andrew was out of the island and gave me a chance to drive. I welcomed the help of Geoff Goddard and we had a fantastic day. It was good to get into the seat again, as I haven’t rallied since Sol RB12,” Swann said afterwards.
There was a classic two-wheel-drive battle, including the three champion driver title-contenders. On dropped scores, Daryl Clarke (Modified 7 Honda Civic) started the day with 143 points, Neil Corbin (M6 Toyota Starlet) and Logan Watson (SuperModfied 11 BMW M3) with 140 each . . . and ended the day drawn on 160, an unprecedented result for the BRC Championship. After both Clarke and Corbin scored the same number of class wins (eight) and second places (two), Corbin claimed the title as the driver of the lower capacity car.
Clarke had an off early on, then damaged the sump on stage three, meaning he needed to be cautious for the rest of the day, finishing 10th overall and second in class to Edward Corbin (Toyota Corolla RunX), those three points costing him the champion driver title. Corbin – an impressive sixth overall – had no issues for the day, while Watson, who finished seventh overall, took the jump flat on the final stage before lunch, damaging an engine mount, steering rack and sump. (RB)