Conor Roach and Rhett Watson have eased ahead in the hunt for the coveted champion driver’s title in the Barbados Rally Club’s Virgin Atlantic Championship, despite not having everything their own way in their respective classes at the Scotiabank King of the Hill on May 26 and Sol Rally Barbados 2013 on June 1 and 2.
Meanwhile, the BRC continues to enjoy growing competitor numbers – 69 local drivers have participated in Virgin Atlantic Championship events so far this season, compared with 63 by the same point last year and 57 in 2011, an increase of around 10 per cent year on year.
Roach and Watson jointly lead the overall title chase, based on class results, with 105 points (scored from a possible maximum of 108); Geoff Noel is third (102), Josh Read fourth (96) and Andrew Jones, Roger Skeete and Ian Warren tied for fifth on 92. Six of the 10 rounds are now complete, with next month’s BRC Summer Nights Tarmac Stages (August 17) the next qualifier. Drivers count their nine best scores at year-end.
Roach (Clubman Peugeot 106) and Watson (SuperModified 12 BMW M3) have been class-leaders since the start of the year, with wins in the Spring Blaze double-header speed event in March, shared with the Motoring Club of Barbados Inc, and in April’s Valvoline Rally. After the first three rounds, SM10 leader Read (Toyota Starlet) was also tied in the lead.
Intense competition over the two most important weekends of the year, however, changed things. Roach was beaten by Trevor Mapp (Mitsubishi Mirage RS) at King of the Hill, to slip two points behind Watson, who maintained his 100 per cent record, while Read also fell back, beaten by Roger Mayers (WR Starlet). On the Saturday of Sol Rally Barbados 2013 – each day is a separate points-scoring round – it was Watson’s turn for an upset, beaten by Brian Gill’s M3, although he bounced back with a class win and maximum power stage bonus points on Sunday.
Roach claimed both class wins, but only two bonus points, to stay level with Watson, while Read slipped to fourth, beaten by Mayers on Saturday, then by both Mayers and Ian Warren (Suzuki Swift) on Sunday. Noel (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) has only failed to win Group N once – second to Andrew Mallalieu (Subaru Impreza N10) at King of the Hill – so has been consistent.
Read continues to lead the two-wheel-drive title chase, based on overall results, six points ahead of Warren, while WRC-1 class-leader Roger Skeete (Impreza WRC S12) heads Roger Hill (WRC-2 Toyota Corolla WRC) by 19 points in the 4wd Championship. (RB)