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New cars break cover at Vaucluse Raceway

Twelve four-wheel-drive cars head the entry list for the Red Bull International RallySprint on Saturday (May 27) as the opening event of the annual Barbados Rally Carnival runs off at night for the first time. With an entry of more than 50 cars, an action-packed day is promised, with qualifying slated for 10.00am.

The weekend's encounter is the final round of the Vaucluse Raceway Motor Sport Club's (VRMSC) RallySprint Cup 2006, so competition will be fierce as those in the running grasp their last chance to score points. And, not only will they have their regular opponents to contend with, but the overseas drivers, too, a number of whom have performed well at the St Thomas venue in the past.

International interest will centre on the Ford Focus World Rally Car of British businessman Steve Perez, which heads the largest-ever line-up at Vaucluse in the Modified 8 category; the car, which has won two World Championship events in the hands of Markko Martin, is being flown to the island in the hold of the same Virgin Atlantic 747-400 which delivers the bulk of the Rally Carnival competitors to Grantley Adams International Airport tomorrow (Wednesday).

Perez has not competed at Vaucluse before, but the European party also includes Kevin Procter, who is mounted in his fourth different car in four years of contesting the two Rally Carnival events; this year, he arrives with his trusty Subaru Impreza, which should prove competitive in the Modified 8 classification, where he will also run alongside fellow-Yorkshireman Fred Davidson, who now drives Procter's former Ford Escort Cosworth.

Saturday's event will also be notable for the return to the Vaucluse Raceway of the Simpson Motors Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII in which Trevor Manning holds the circuit lap record. After extensive surgery at Harry Hockley Motorsport's workshops in Britain, the car emerged from the Bridgetown Port on Monday to undergo some testing and a change of livery.

Manning said at the weekend: "I'm hoping that we're going to have a really competitive package now; a lot of time has gone in to the efforts to improve the car, and I am really looking forward to driving it. There isn't much time to get prepared, so it will be a busy few days."

The 10-strong Modified 8 entry also includes Paul Bourne (Subaru Impreza WRC), Barry Gale (Evo VI), Roger Hill (Toyota Celica GT4), Harold Morley (Impreza WRC S9) Geoff Noel (Impreza WRC) and Kirk Watkins (Evo V); a pair of Production 4 cars will also be in the mix - St Vincent's Steve Ollivierre, who has always gone well at the venue in front-wheel-drive cars, now has an Evo VIII, while newcomer to Rally Carnival, England's Andrew Johnson, has an Impreza.

But it is not just in the four-wheel-drive category where the interest lies, particularly for those fans who follow island motor sport closely. Also making its competition debut on Saturday will be the new Suzuki Swift to be campaigned by Manning's team-mate and triple VRW RallySprint Champion Sean Gill. When Gill debuted the car's predecessor, the giant-killing Suzuki Ignis, at the Barbados Rally Carnival in 2002, he won his class in both events, and will be hoping for more of the same.

Nick Gill will be another to watch out for - after a long gestation period, his former Mazda 323 has been reborn in the body of the current-model Mazda 3, in which he will return to Vaucluse for the first time since March last year. He will be running in the SuperModified 12 grouping, where his opposition will include the BMWs of popular Englishman Martin Stockdale and local ace Jonathan Still.

Tristan Gibbs leads the VRW RallySprint Cup after two impressive outings in the ex-Freddie Gale Toyota Starlet Turbo; with a total of 51 points, no fewer than six of them gained in the all-important Group Winners' Handicap KnockOut, he has five in hand over Josh Read (Toyota Starlet) and Ian Warren (Peugeot 206GTi), who are tied in second place on 46. Greg Cozier (Ford Escort RS2000) is fourth on 44, with a further tie for fifth, another point behind, between Brett Clarke (Suzuki Swift GTi) and Still.

Qualifying on Saturday is slated for 10.00am, with the Group heats scheduled for a 5.00pm start; the sun will have long set before the Group Winners Handicap KnockOut begins. A prize-giving will complete the day's activities.

The Red Bull International RallySprint is organised by the Vaucluse Raceway Motorsport Club; it is the third and final round of the VRW RallySprint Cup 2006. The second Carnival event is Rally Barbados 2006 (June 3/4), organised by the Barbados Rally Club (BRC); it is rounds three and four of the Texaco BRC Rally Championship and organised 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.

Remaining key dates for Barbados Rally Carnival 2006

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

VRW RallySprint Cup 2006
After two rounds:
1st Tristan Gibbs (Rent-a-Tool/Scorpion Liners/Boyss Ltd/Algae X/Corrosion Block/Surfside Gym Toyota Starlet Turbo), 51pts
2nd equal Josh Read (Automotive Art/Baram Services/Forever Flowers/D Blades Trophies Ltd Toyota Starlet) & Ian Warren (Subzero/Details Car Valet Inc Peugeot 206GTi), 46pts
4th Greg Cozier (Citgo/Hyundai Commercial & Industrial Ford Escort RS2000), 44pts
5th equal Brett Clarke (Shell Helix/Automotive Art Suzuki Swift GTi) & Jonathan Still (Hitachi Power Tools/Philips Lighting/Warrens Motors/Crane & Equipment/VP Racing BMW M3), 43pts
7th Danny Williams (TransTech/All Connect/Sunbury Plantation Peugeot 106), 42pts
8th Paul Bourne (Warrens Motors Subaru Impreza WRC), 41pts
9th Adrian Linton (Ravensden/Crane & Equipment/Garbage Gobbler/West Coast Garden Centre/Edwin Clarke Furniture Vauxhall Astra GSi), 40pts
10th Simon Gillmore (SRG Engineering/Halton Graphics Peugeot 205), 36pts

For further information,

Carn06-09a/RB-IRS: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 23, 2005

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