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Sting in the tail for unwary competitors

The Barbados Rally Club (BRC), organiser of Rally Barbados, has again revised the route of the annual two-day International event in its continuing efforts to balance retaining the appeal of the Caribbean's premier rally to overseas competitors with the importance of limiting inconvenience to the public.

Rally Barbados 2006 (June 3/4) will comprise 24 special stages; one stage has been cut from each day, allowing an earlier finish on both evenings, but the event has a sting in the tail for unwary competitor - the final loop of stages on Sunday is the longest, representing around one-sixth of the total competition.

Rally chairman Barry Gale said: "As we did last year, we have looked carefully at each day's route, and the impact the event has on residents in the area - we have made some more changes to the route to cut down the time we close the roads for, but we have lost less than eight per cent of our total stage mileage."
"I hope these are changes that will make Rally Barbados more enjoyable for all, as we continue to search for improvements that raise the standard of the event . . . all in an effort to lure our overseas visitors back every year."

Rally Barbados has again attracted a strong overseas entry, with current or former National Champions from Britain, Jamaica and Trinidad hoping to become the first overseas driver to win the BRC's blue riband event in 10 years; the last overseas winner was Ireland's Kenny McKinstry, who claimed his second victory here in 1996 in a Ford Escort RS2000 . . . but he did have some local help, with Sean Gill as his co-driver!

Six special stage venues will be used this year, three each on Saturday and Sunday: from the 9.00am Saturday start at Simpson Motors in Warrens, competitors will head straight for Automotive Art Shell Canefield, the popular 5.9-kilometre stage, which runs from the bottom of Hangman's Hill, turning north past the Vaucluse Raceway. The familiar route is then continued at Blue Waters Sailor Gully, the 4.5-kilometre stage running westbound.

Stage three will be the 2.4-kilometre SB Distribution Turners Hall, after which crews will head back to Simpson Motors for their first service halt; these three stages are then repeated in the same order before second service. The third loop will comprise just two stages, Turners Hall being missed out, as marshals will be modifying the stage to run first after lunch at the increased length of 3.7 kilometres.

Sailor Gully and Canefield will be reversed, running east and south respectively, and follow Turners Hall in the first evening loop; these two stages will then be repeated, with the first car scheduled to pass through the last stage of the day at 7.15pm, around 30 minutes earlier than last year.

The Sunday restart will be at 7.30am from the yard at Carrington Factory; as on Saturday, there will be one fewer stage than last year, while the other key change is that the 4.4-kilometre Gatorade Stewarts Hill stage will run only in the westerly direction. The 3.1-kilometre Digicel Malvern stage will host the second competitive action of the day, after which crews will tackle the rally's longest stage, DaCosta Mannings Auto Centre Kendal (8.1 kilometres, running south).

Spectators who went to Kendal for the BRC's Carnival Warm-up Tarmac Rally in April will know that some traditional spectator areas on that stage have been changed and new arrangements are in place for parking - fans are asked to arrive early and abide by instructions given by marshals and security staff.

Those three stages will run again before competitors return to Carrington for the lunch break. After one return to Stewarts Hill and Malvern, the final service halt will precede the sting in the tail of Rally Barbados 2006 - the longest loop of the event is the last, with one pass through Malvern and two through Kendal. At 26.8 kilometres, this loop represents one-sixth of the total competitive driving, so could spring a surprise or two.

Rally Barbados 2006 is rounds three and four of the Texaco BRC Rally Championship; it is organised by the Barbados Rally Club in association with Armstrong Agencies, Automotive Art Shell, Da Costa Mannings Autocentre, Digicel, DMS, McEnearney Quality, Red Bull, Simpson Motors and Texaco West Indies. The event is supported by The Boatyard, J E Security Systems & Services, Nassco, Office Solutions & Systems, SBI Distribution and Stoute's Car Rental. The Red Bull Vaucluse Raceway International RallySprint is organised by the Vaucluse Raceway Motorsport Club.

Key dates for Barbados Rally Carnival 2006

Saturday, May 20 - scrutineering for local entries, McEnearney Quality, Wildey
Friday, May 26 - scrutineering for overseas entries, McEnearney Quality
Saturday, May 27 - Red Bull International RallySprint,
Vaucluse Raceway, St Thomas
Thursday, June 1 - Rally Barbados 2006 shakedown
Saturday, June 3 - Rally Barbados 2006, day 1
Sunday, June 4 - Rally Barbados 2006, day 2
Monday, June 5 - Rally Barbados 2006 prize-giving, The Boatyard

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