Barbados’ motor sports volunteers have come in for high praise from competitors and organisers following last weekend’s Barbados Rally Club’s Summer Nights Tarmac Stages, which was run in constantly worsening weather conditions in the north of the island.
Despite the Club’s best efforts, the event was abandoned after four of the six planned stages.
Paul Bourne and Mark Kinch (Ford Focus WRC07) emerged winners of round seven of the BRC Virgin Atlantic Championship, leading home Roger Skeete and Louis Venezia (Subaru Impreza WRC S12) by a margin of 30 seconds.
Bourne, who was fastest on all four stages said: “Everything went well. I was more bothered with the dark than the wet, perhaps I need some night vision goggles.”
Afterwards, Skeete, who had been suffering from anti-lag and launch control issues, congratulated the winners for their achievement in difficult conditions. The organisers and marshals who were stood in the rain from the start to finish were also greatly lauded.
“At times the rain was horizontal, they must all have been soaked to the skin. We could not go rallying without your considerable efforts,” Skeete said.
Skeete’s comments were echoed by BRC competition secretary and Modified 6 winner Neil Corbin.
Clerk of the course Neil Barnard expanded on the reasons for cutting the event short.
“Despite the constant drizzle, most marshals were able to function in their posts, but when the rain really started to come down around nine o’clock it became unrealistic for some of them to carry out their functions exposed to the bad weather and they retreated to their parked vehicles. This created a couple issues of members of the public trying to drive onto the stage.
“Additionally, even though we provided them with raincoats, the start and finish marshals were very exposed, as there were no sides to their tents. To their credit, they did not abandon their positions, but there was also a real danger of some of the computer equipment being damaged in both those locations.”Based on the combination of issues we decided that the overall situation was becoming somewhat dangerous and we opted to cancel the remaining two stages.
“As usual the decision was made with the safety of the travelling public, the spectators and the competitors, in mind, particularly the public,” he explained.
Roger Hill (Toyota Corolla WRC) finished third, with Neil Armstrong fourth, top two-wheel-drive and SuperModified 10 winner in the Toyota Starlet. Others to clock top six times included Group N contenders Geoff Noel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Andrew Mallalieu (Impreza N10), who beat Noel by three seconds, SM11 winner Logan Watson (BMW M3) and Virgin Atlantic Championship leader Daryl Clarke (Honda Civic), who finished fifth overall, winning Modified 7.
Read slipped out of the overall running on the final stage, when his Starlet refused to start, apparently with water in the distributor. Up to then, he had been enjoying himself: “I was cautious because it was the very first time using full wets but then I found out that I should be even more committed because of the grip generated by the tyres. After the wrecker ride home, the car started without any issue.”
Read’s woes promoted Ralph White (Starlet) to second in SM10, with Paul Horton of the Turks & Caicos Islands third in his Ford Escort MkI, tackling a Barbados stage in the rain for the first time.
The top 10 was completed by Martin Atwell, who finished just eight seconds behind Watson in the battle for SM11, despite what he described as a “character-building” first experience of his rear-wheel-drive M3 in the wet, and M7 runner-up Adrian Linton, whose slick tyres made for what he called a “challenging and exciting event”. (RB)
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