At the wheel of the Sugar Ultra Lounge Subaru Impreza WRC S9, Dean Serrao displayed great commitment in challenging driving conditions to win the final two rounds of the Barbados Rally Club’s Virgin Atlantic Driver’s and Class Championships on Sunday at the double-header BRC Winter Gravel Sprint at Black Bess in St Peter.
It was a day when the weather proved once again that all sides of island motor sport – competitors, spectators and officials – are ready and willing to rise above a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Heavy thunderstorms during the early hours of Sunday demanded quick thinking on the part of the BRC’s officials, while spectator numbers, thin in the morning, steadily grew as the day wore on.
“The rain caused us to immediately rule out the first mud section by the fruit trees, but we decided to attempt the new uphill section as it seemed to have been less saturated. However, we were wrong. After a drive through and practice run, where four-wheel-drives had to drive up mostly in first gear and two-wheel-drives were getting stuck everywhere, we were forced to cancel the course, have all the drivers sign a document agreeing to change the course and start all over again,” competition secretary Neil Corbin said.
“This meant of course another drive through, practice and so on. The new course included a section that travelled north to the ‘triangle’ and spun around two barriers, doubling back on itself before making the left up the gravel hill. This was a great way to use the course, but the time taken to run the event was further extended as the next car could not start until the double-back section was clear,” he added.
The downhill course, which was run for the second part of the day was a simplified course and slightly shorter, but no less a challenge for competitors, as Corbin testified. “We all enjoyed the speed coming down the hill into a very fast left-hander, before setting the car up for the left hairpin at the bottom.”
On the uphill run, Serrao was fastest in the practice run, then the first two official timed runs, heading Roger Hill (Toyota Corolla WRC) by 1.3 seconds before the final run; although Serrao slipped down the order and Hill improved by one second, it was not enough, leaving Serrao the overall and WRC-2 winner. Hill fought back downhill, faster in practice and the second run, but still had to give best to Serrao by four-tenths at the end of the day.
The two-wheel-drive battle was intense. In the uphill run, Rhett Watson (BMW M3) was fastest in practice, ahead of Edward Corbin (Toyota Corolla RunX) and Neil Corbin (Toyota Starlet).
In the official runs, Watson trailed the Corbins, Neil ahead on the first run, Edward ahead on the second, but Modified 6 winner Neil faster on the final run to claim fourth overall (behind Group N winner Geoff Noel’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and two-wheel drive honours. Heading downhill, Edward had the upper hand in the Corbin battle, faster than Neil on every run, also beating Noel to finish third overall and top two-wheel-drive, while championship contender Watson won SuperModified 12 in both directions.
Watson’s rival Conor Roach claimed two clubman class victories in his Peugeot 106, beating Jeremy Croney (Peugeot 206) by just seven-tenths uphill, but by a more than a second downhill. (RB)